Thursday, January 24, 2013

Looking American...and teaching English

Yesterday at work, I was talking with my co-worker about teaching English abroad. It's a subject that I've always had interest in and have thought about doing at a few points in my life (including when I was unemployed... can I tell you that I almost convinced LoLo to let me go to his home country of the Dominican Republic for a month and teach?).

Obviously I wouldn't teach at the beach in a resort full of tourists... but it's still a pretty picture of DR.
I love the idea of teaching abroad. You know how important education is to me and I know that learning English can be the key to a better life for many people.

But yesterday, I learned a little bit about the ugly side of the way English is being taught abroad.  

One thing I learned is that these teachers may not actually have any qualifications to teach English, other than being a native speaker of the language. (In many places teachers have to take a training course, but in others, they require no training at all.)

I speak English fluently, but please do not put me in front of a classroom of students because I will have no idea how to teach it. I can't remember grammar for the life of me.

Imagine if you went to high school and your Spanish teacher had absolutely no training in being a teacher or teaching Spanish, but had grown up speaking Spanish. In many parts of this country, this would cause a huge uproar because the teacher was not qualified!

But when it comes to teaching others around the world, it's ok because they are poor and it's better than nothing, AND the teacher needs the experience for her [resume, a life changing experience, fill in the blank reason], right?

So at what cost are we sacrificing the education of those in that other country for the "experience" of the teacher?

and I have a dream that my children will live in a WORLD like this...via

One of the other things I learned is that in many countries, the people in charge of hiring the teachers often want people who "look American". And to these people, "looking American" means not black, not Hispanic, and not Asian. Meaning my future children would have a good chance of not being chosen, depending on whether they get LoLo's skin tone or mine.

That's where it hit home for me. My future children could be denied an opportunity simply because of the color of their skin.

Apparently, in other parts of the world, this discrimination and racism still exists and here in this country, nothing is being done to ensure that no matter one's skin color, he or she could teach wherever he or she desires. Instead, we go along with their discrimination and only send the teachers who "look American" to the places that make these requests.

But as the supplier, does America not have the ability and/or the leverage to say "We will not send teachers until you stop your discriminatory policies"?

And when we will the world realize that there is no such thing as "looking American"? We are currently in or about to be in an America that is majority minority and "looking American" is already impossible to define.

Will my children look less American because their skin might be tan?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You Move, You Snooze

As most of you know, one of the things I love the most about my husband is his use of the English language. See, his first language is Spanish so sometimes, his English comes out a little different.

My favorite is when he messes up idioms and common phrases. One time, my dad got up out of his chair and LoLo jumped into it quickly. When my dad came back, LoLo told him "You move, you snooze!"

Insert crazy amounts of laughter here.

Now in our family, whenever someone loses their seat we tell them, "You move, you snooze!!"

Another favorite of mine is when LoLo is trying to scold Bronx for not eating his food when we put it in front of him. He always tells him, "Bronx, choosers can't be pickers."

Hmmmm I think he means beggars can't be choosers, but I could be wrong. There is a huge difference between choosers and pickers, you know.

Then, last night, I was telling LoLo about my experience volunteering at a soup kitchen last week. I was telling him how I really didn't feel uncomfortable in the situation even though some of my coworkers expressed that they did. LoLo told me, "Well Erin, that's because you are really down to the ground, so you get it."

Down to the ground, eh? That's a new one. But I get it. Earth and ground are the same word in Spanish, "tierra".

I know I've been MIA lately, but I've just been feeling rather unmotivated and felt like I had nothing to write about... but then my friend Lacey mentioned that she missed my posts...and suddenly an idea popped into my head.

Sometimes you just need a little motivation to bring you back down to the ground.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Complete 180

This year has been a crazy one for me. When I look back at the beginning of 2012, I was in a completely different place than I am now. For one, I was on unemployment and was feeling pretty down. I felt like I had no purpose and that was hard for me.

The first week of January though, my sister-in-law gave birth to two tiny little twin girls (they were about 3 pounds each). LoLo and I went to New York and visited them in the hospital a couple of weeks after they were born.

Then when they came home, I was able to go back to New York to help my sister-in-law take care of them while she battled through chemotherapy. It was then that I felt so thankful that I had the time to help her out and spend time with the girls.

Those little girls are 1 year old today and it has been so much fun to watch them grow. Even though being unemployed was really hard on me, I'm so happy I had the time to go and visit them often and watch them grow up.

In March, right before I found my job, I started this blog. Blogging has brought me so much throughout this year and I feel so glad my sister pushed me to do it. I feel like I've gained friends as well as a closer relationship with my sister. I've been able to tell my story and express myself in a way I never have before.

And then, of course, in April, I found my job. My job has been such a blessing. I never thought I would find a job that would combine so many things that I like. I love providing opportunities to people who may not have them otherwise. I love dreaming of far away places. I love working with people from those far away places. And most of all, I love going to those far away places.

If you had asked me back in January, I never would have dreamed I would end up in Shanghai, China in November. In January, I felt hopeless. By November, I was pinching myself to make sure it was all real.

I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for me. If 2012 is any indication, I know that at this point in time, I have absolutely no idea. I'll be adding another country to my list of places I've been so I can't wait to find out where my job sends me. I have a feeling there are some pretty great things coming up. And I'm so glad you're all here to join me!