RAMIRO SARABIA- It’s crazy to think that, in less than a month, the Fall semester of my junior year will be over. More than that, I’ll have finished an experience that I once saw taking place in the distant future: studying abroad. As always, I’m back with reflections on my experience thus far in Madrid.
One of the things that I’m going to miss the most about Madrid is the incredible opportunity that I’ve had to participate as an instructor of an English conversation class for English language learners at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. This program, offered through the Tufts-Skidmore program, connects Tufts and Skidmore students with students from the UAM who are interested in sharpening their English conversation skills. Through the course, English students have had the chance to learn new vocabulary and practice the language that some of them have been learning formally for nearly a decade. Similarly, I’ve not only gotten the chance to meet a great group of passionate students but also gained invaluable teaching experience in the classroom as well.
Since our first day of classes in September, I’ve gotten the chance to get to know the students in my class pretty well. The majority of them are from Madrid, but I was pleased to meet a handful of students who hailed from other parts of Spain as well. The perspectives and input that they offer in some of our conversations about Spain and Spanish culture sometimes contrasts quite distinctly with the comments of their peers from the capitol, which I appreciate. I was very impressed to learn that very one of my students has been learning English since late elementary school. Each of them are language students as well, the majority of them studying cross-language studies in English and Spanish. The conversations that we’ve had throughout the semester have created distinct memories for me thus far, such as the questions I received on the first day of class about how seriously to take Donald Trump (I immediately let them know that he was the opposite of what Americans picture as an ideal politician, but the idea of Trump crossing people’s minds when they think about the United States was nonetheless memorable).
The experience has been greatly rewarding for me as well. I’ve grown up very passionate about education and the enormous impact that it has in shaping our futures. The son of a middle school principal, a part of me has always wanted to dedicate a part of my life to teaching, but I have always been unsure as to what part of my life that would be. This experience has reignited the interest that I have in entering the classroom and has inspired me to continue student teaching.
As upperclassmen at Tufts, juniors and seniors are encouraged to be role models for younger students and to offer them guidance by allowing them to teach fall first-year-only seminars offered through Tufts’ Experimental College. Teaching this English class has inspired me to submit a course for first-year students next Fall for the Ex College Perspectives program. I want to help shape
the way that first-year students see their freshman year, their Tufts experience, and education more broadly, and I think that this experience has given me the inspiration that I needed to feel motivated about the application process, which involves writing a syllabus and defending the topic you want to teach. I am looking forward to getting back on campus next semester and working on this, but I am also sad for the end of these classes because of the amazing experience and friendships that it has helped me build.