Learning Curves, Twists, and Turns

So much food for thought here. I love these stories of teachers putting themselves in learners’ shoes, literally and figuratively.
And check out the rest of the blog, too–Kate

Adult Literacy Research Institute

Written by:  Sandi Loschnig

In 1999, I chose to leave my comfortable life on Protection Island, British Columbia, to travel to Cochabamba in Bolivia for a new job working as an educator for a women’s organization. It was a learning journey in every way.

Learning Spanish, finding an apartment, discovering the eccentric transportation systems in the city, shopping for food, being immersed in a new culture—in every moment I was preoccupied with absorbing information. I even dreamed about conjugating Spanish verbs. I was trying so hard to cram everything in that my head ached each evening from the effort.

It wasn’t until I came back to Canada nine months later that I could reflect on my experience. I realized what it meant to be learning a whole new culture, how difficult it was, and how it changes your very identity.

I arrived in Bolivia as an experienced educator in my…

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3 thoughts on “Learning Curves, Twists, and Turns

  1. Pingback: Feedback | Working in Adult Literacy

  2. Thanks for linking this great article, Kate. I really enjoyed it.

    I’ve had some experiences abroad like the ones described in the article (though not for such an extended period) and it is a great reminder about what it feels like to be a beginner adult learner. I always recommend to colleagues looking for professional development options that they take a class in a language they are totally unfamiliar with. As instructors, I think a lot of us are used to being academically and professionally successful, and it’s easy to forget what it’s like to struggle and be frustrated. I developed greater empathy for what my students must go through when they are starting out back at school.

love to hear your ideas or experiences!

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