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 and Essential Skills 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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