In this issue of the Ready To Learn blog, we meet WSIU's student education and outreach assistant, Lindsay DuBois of Springfield.
As children go back to school, millions of these essays are being written. Growing up, my answers were fairly standard: visited family, attended summer camp and dance camp, and played outside. This year, however, I finally feel that I had a summer worthy of a "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essay.
This past summer I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica through Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I spent ten weeks at theUniversidad de Veritas in San José studying Spanish. This was a cultural opportunity unlike any I have experienced and has benefited me in ways that I have still not yet discovered.
I was able to climb volcanoes, relax in hammocks by the ocean-side, zip line through rain forests, see birds and animals not found in Illinois, barter in markets, experience Nicaragua for a full week, learn from historical sites and museums, live with a Costa Rican family, volunteer in a children's center, and practice Spanish everywhere. I will forever remember this summer, the people I met, and the places I saw.
One of my most impactful experiences was volunteering at a children's center. They use the noun "el orfanato" to describe the center, but the children there are not orphans. Their parents cannot fully provide for them financially and this center has opened their doors. It was a wonderful experience. I spent most of my time with four children, two girls and two boys, under the age of three. These children did not care if I properly conjugated every verb or my sentence was not in perfect gender agreement. They were happy that I got down on the floor and pretended someone was on the other end of the play phone for them. Children are very universal. They share the same basic needs and wants. It was a blessing to see these children, who were not being raised in what most people would call an ideal environment, laughing, smiling, crying, playing, and just being children.
Studying in Costa Rica helped me gain a global perspective. I believe this will be crucial in my future profession with children. Largely thanks to technology, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. I will be able to use these experiences and future travels for my work in early childhood education. When discussing cultures, types of geography, and landscapes, I now have first hand knowledge to share with children. I have begun the long journey towards confidently speaking Spanish, which will allow me to communicate with families or communities that I would not have been able to previously reach. Every teacher brings their past experiences into the classroom. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this summer to bring into my future classroom.