Last week was one week of firsts for the 26 teachers visiting Austin ISD from Uruguay.
Two who were visiting Pillow Elementary School said that, for the first time, they had flown in a plane, eaten tacos and drunk Dr Pepper.
Each teacher in the two-week program stays with a host—an AISD teacher who volunteers to show them what Austin living is like, both at home and at work.
“It’s an authentic experience to be able to learn directly from someone from another country,” said Megan Cormack, a first-grade teacher at Pillow and coordinator for the One World Program. “I hope they’ll be able to implement some of the programs we have. It’s really important for the teachers at AISD, as well, to meet people of different cultures.”
While they learn about Austin’s culture, the visitors also bring a new perspective to the students and teachers they are visiting.
For instance, students at Pillow were learning about mate (pronounced ma-tay), a tea Uruguayans typically drink throughout the day.
Gabriel Reyes, a Uruguayan teacher visiting Pillow, showed students how to play the drums and showed them a video from the students he teaches at home.
“I really love the programs here, such as English as a second language and social and emotional learning,” said Reyes. “I’m really surprised by how much people read here. I work in poor areas where they don’t really read or study much.”
He also said the U.S. is different in that each state has its own educational system, whereas in Uruguay there is only one system and standard for the entire country.
This is the third time for Austin ISD to participate in this host program, expanding from 10 teachers to 26 this year.
For more information about the One World Program, please visit http://oneworldspanish.weebly.com.