All junior Elementary Special Education majors spend several hours a week teaching children to read, write and do ‘rthmetic, but this fall fifteen Elementary/Special Education majors in the class of 2015 will be teaching students in Europe. This marks the second year ESE majors will teach and study abroad in Florence, Italy and the first year ESE majors will teach and study abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In this blog the ESE majors abroad and Dr. Hauerwas, faculty-in-residence in Florence, Italy will be sharing memorable moments of their experiences in Europe.
The Elementary Special Education department with support from the Center for International Studies has recently developed partnerships with Fairfield University Florence and Stranmillis University Belfast to offer ESE majors the opportunity to teach literacy abroad.
And some thoughts from ESE students and Dr. Hauerwas as they anticipate their experience this fall:
Belfast, Northern Ireland
I’m counting the days till my flight leaves and arrives in Belfast! It is hard to imagine, in less than three months I will be teaching in Belfast classrooms! I’ve already bought travel guides on Northern Ireland and Europe and I can’t wait to see what I’ve read about in real life! My excitement keeps growing as the date gets closer!
The time has finally come and in a few months I will begin an experience that I have been looking forward to since I knew studying abroad was an option. Having the opportunity to study, travel and teach in Northern Ireland was something I knew I had to experience. I can’t believe in a few short months I will be leaving for Belfast. Of course I am a little nervous and have many questions, “am I going to be able to be so far from home?, Am I going to be able to handle the academics?” Those and many more questions are running through my mind, but the greatest emotion I have is excitement. I am twenty years old and I am going to be in Belfast, Northern Ireland with a few other classmates to learn to travel and even teach. When I heard that we would be teaching in the elementary schools I beamed with excitement. Practicum in Rhode Island has been very enjoyable but now I get to teach in Ireland! That is a whole new level of excitement. The one thing I am looking forward to the most is learning. The amount of things I have the opportunity to “learn” while being abroad is incredible. Of course I will learn education material and the variety and location of learning as well as the culture of Belfast, the people, and the history. Not only limited to Belfast I plan on traveling throughout Europe, including, Munich, London, and Copenhagen. I know at times it will be a challenge to live on my own in another country but that’s what excites me the most. I am looking forward to the knowledge I will gain and how I will grow as a person by conquering the challenges!
When I first came to Providence, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle the distance of studying abroad. However, I soon realized that it was a once in a lifetime experience that I could not pass up. As our departure date for Belfast comes closer and closer, my excitement keeps going up as well. I am not only excited to experience the Irish culture and travel around Europe, but I also cannot wait to see the differences between the Belfast education system and our system here in the US. I can only hope that I will learn just as much during my experience in Belfast then I have learned so far in our programs back at Providence. I’m so excited to see what the next semester holds for me abroad!
I am very excited about our trip to Florence! I cannot wait to learn more about the culture and to explore a foreign country. In addition, I cannot wait to work with Italian students and teach children whose first language is not English. I expect for it to be a challenge at times but cannot wait to learn more about teaching through this experience.
Every person I have spoken with who has studied abroad during their college years has told me that it is an incredible experience that should not be passed up. When I learned about this study abroad program where I would have the opportunity to teach in Florence, it seemed like my life was complete, and I have been excited to begin my adventure in Florence ever since we had our first meeting during the Fall of 2012. At that point in November it was just something to look forward to, but now it is becoming a reality. At the end of August, I will experience something completely new and life changing. In a sense, it will be like starting college all over again. Instead of being 200 miles away from home, I am going to be 4,000 miles away from home. No more surprise visits by mom and dad to take me out to lunch on a Sunday afternoon and no more “quick drives” home for a three day weekend. Needless to say, the distance will be a little bit of an adjustment for me, but I know that once I am all settled in my apartment and have begun my classes, the distance will not impact me too much (hopefully!). I anticipate making a lot of new friends as well as become closer with my peers who are in this Elementary/Special Education major. We have all become friends throughout our classes with one another the past two years, but next semester we are going to experience so many new things together. I am beyond excited for this wonderful opportunity to learn so much both in and out of the classroom next semester. I await visiting museums and touring different sites, but one thing I am most excited for is that we will be teaching in an Italian classroom. I have no doubt that my experiences from September to December will be ones that I remember for the rest of my life. I am so excited to begin an Italian adventure!
There are so many things that are flying through my mind as I prepare to teach Language and Literacy in Florence this fall. With my family, I started taking Italian class; I am still very much a beginner, but I can now greet the other people who will be living in our apartment building, order food at a café or ask for directions to the school or the Duomo. However I still wonder if I am ready to observe our ESE students teach English as a Foreign Language with the Italian children. How will the English as a Foreign language classes in Tuscany be different from the English as a Second Language instruction in Pawtucket or Providence? Like our ESE students, I don’t know the students’ first language and I will have to use many gestures, realia and basic phrases to communicate. Then there is the issue of packing: how am I going to fit everything I need for 4 and ½ months in one fifty pound suitcase? I need to bring not only my clothes and shoes, but also any teaching materials I need for my Literacy class and for homeschooling my two boys.”