Last week I had a great opportunity to participate in a training session for foreign fellows (FF) in our country. It felt nice to be a part of such a big project and of something that promises to "change students' lives the country over". I have some thoughts about the general idea behind this initiative (that I will share here), but I also learned a lot about the people behind the project in the past few days.
In general, I think there is a great place for foreigners in our classrooms. After cillege graduation, I participated in a foreign fellowship program myself. I was a FF for 1 year at a University in the States and the whole.experience really changed me. I can imagine how the lives of the FF visiting Colombia will change after this experience.
Last week, I "taught" them about vocabulary teaching, a book use and warm-up activities. While in the classroom, they were really interested in learning about teaching, but also about Colombian kids, our culture, and tips to make a good relationship with their co-teacher.
I tried to share my expertise with them during these days, and one of the things I'm the most proud of sharing was respect. I know that the whole idea of bringing foreigners to practice English is very motivating and interesting for students. However, I can only imagine how intimidated might teachers in the schools feel when they see the tall blue-eyed, blonde and young fellow that will support them for four months. I can just imagine their hearts breaking at the sight of their students running towards the FF and their great activities and games. So, I thought it was convenient to advice them to walk carefully and respectfully in front of teachers.
They were really concerned about their co-teacher not liking them or not getting along with them. So, I adviced setting off on the right foot by showing them respect and appreciation for the job they've done for the past 25 or more years. I really liked the fellows' receptivity towards this suggestion. It is good to see they value what teachers have tried to do with their students in very poor conditions.
I can only wish the best of luck to all the fellows. I know most of their lives will change, but I seriously hope the lives of their stusents and co-teachers also change positively. I wish they see the reality of our country and they experience first hand the recently signed peace. I also hope the co-teachers take advantage of these kids and teach them lots! Because even though the fellows can "teach" English to the co-teachers and hopefully to the students, the co-teachers can definitely teach the fellows about life, about struggling and about thriving.
During this past week I had lots of fun, I taught one or two strategies to the fellows, but I also reflected a lot about my role in this project. About how as an English teacher and a teacher trainer I can help my country, and about how good my decision was. I'm experiencing new things,