My Peru experience exceeded all expectations to the point where it brought me to tears to have to leave this wonderful yet insanely trafficked area. The beauty of studying to be a teacher is that I am always learning. I found myself taking one new thing away from each experience that I went through. From the ruin tours to the school visits, I was learning new facts even if they were just a small detail. I do my best to journal so that I can remember the small items that I take away from each experience. I was lucky enough to continue to learn on this trip and Peru continuously gave me reality checks for my life. I live a privileged life and this place put my life into perspective. It showed me how grateful and how blessed I am to be surrounded by people who love me always. Being grateful to have a roof over my head, not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from, not worrying that a natural disaster will hurt my life in any way, and many other simple necessities like clean water to drink were things that I had to reconsider in my life. Through other service trip experiences, I have learned and reflected on those great pleasures in my life. Through MARDI GRAS, I have helped rebuild homes and help people put their lives back together. Those week-long service trips were remarkable and put me in my place, but I always found myself going back home to my safe place on campus in Milwaukee and not doing very much to help those who are around me. As time went on, I always told myself to just step a little bit further outside of my comfort zone and to reach out more. I am always telling myself to do more and to do better for my community, my classroom work, my studies, my workouts, eating better, and many other things in my life. I am constantly striving for what is next. My Peru experience has made me realize that I need to focus on the present before I focus on the future. My future will always be there waiting, my goals will come and go, and I can always strive for more on other days. Ever since I have returned from Peru I have been focusing on the present. I have been thinking only about what lies ahead of me for just today and nothing further. I constantly found myself stressing about activities and events that will happen another day that I would get side tracked and not figure out what to do right in front of me. I sat down to journal a few days after the trip and I realized what I needed to focus on. From then on I would wake up in the morning and write a checklist down on my phone so I could never lose it. I then take a screenshot of my checklist and set it as my phone background so that I always see it. I map out my day so that I know what to do and I don’t find myself constantly searching for the next thing to accomplish. Instead, I take a part of my morning to line up what I need to complete and my days have felt more productive than they have in the past. I am working hard to change my complex life into something more simple and I reflect on the good and the bad. Recently, social media has been a toxic in my life. I found myself constantly comparing myself to the images I saw on Instagram and analyzed my friends list. I realized that there are so many people that I follow and we don’t speak anymore. I asked myself, “Why do I care to see how their lives play out if they can’t even reach out to me and I don’t reach out to them.” Social media became toxic for me and I wanted to clear that out of my headspace to focus on more simplistic things. I unfollowed 700 people on Instagram so that now I follow close family and friends, dog accounts that make me smile, and inspirational people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is completely different now. I feel clean and enjoy what I see on social media now. That might have come across as aggressive and out of the ordinary, but that has recently made me feel better about my life. The simplest activity of clearing toxic energy and people has been the best thing for myself. It was the start that I needed to do this cleanse in my life to living simply. Working to clear out the clutter on my phone, in my room, and in my life, has made me more appreciative of the things that I do have and what I have access too. Clearing unnecessary things out of my life has given me more time to develop relationships with other people and make new friends throughout my days. I am not on my phone as much and appreciating the beauty of nature around me. I have found myself sitting on my porch and people watching and observing what goes on around me. I watch the squirrels who are absolute madness on this campus. I watch people’s body language as they talk to others and I try to gauge what the conversation is about. I have started to notice the smaller details like the way the leaves move in the wind. I feel cliché as I write this, but these petite details have helped me get through my days and I find myself thinking about those details throughout my day and seeing if they will change on a day to day basis. Reflection has become my new best friend.
One woman that I have had the privilege to get to know down in New Orleans has taught me some of the greatest lessons in my life. Miss Frozine, a true woman with strong wit, emotion, love, and the most compassionate person that I have ever met. This picture of her is in her true form. Her party hat is always on when we go to sit and visit with her. She is a woman who has shaped me and always left me with so many questions. Her charisma grows on everyone and she will always leave you guessing about what more there is in life. She once told us to count the blessings around you because that would show how rich you are in your life and you determine how much those riches mean to you. If I look at my life I feel eternally grateful and thankful for everything my parents have done for me. I hate that it took me so long to realize how much work that my parents put in to make my life smooth sailing. Their hard work has always shown and although the results are small, over time the differences in our lives have been revolutionary. My parents have shaped me to be curious, to trust but verify, to always work hard even on the worst days, and to just never give up. I think those items have helped me eventually lead to this simplistic life. There is always more to do in life and there is always more to get done, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was an easy life. Taking small steps on reflection have helped me in that direction and reflecting after my Peru trip has helped me learn to reflect and find new ways to reflect on my life.
Defining equality in education is tough. As a future educator, I strive to be open and forward to help students feel comfortable in an environment of learning. I want to be able to reach out to all students and help them individually strive in their own talents and ways, which I know is a difficult process to do, but I am willing to go that extra mile so students know and understand how I am a teacher who cares and is someone they enjoy to be around. I am aware that there will always be those students that never agree or will do anything I say, but maybe I can find something small within each student to use as relatable topics throughout their classes. After visiting many schools, I believe that a just education, equality in education, and a high-quality education all run from the same roots and sprout into trees with many different branches of achievement and downfall. Although each form of education is considered a separate category, I think they all intertwine within each school. I relate a just education with La Inmaculada. After my experience, I believe that this school gets the job done and follows the curriculum to the core. I didn’t see any teachers go outside the creative box to challenge any students. I did see many students not intrigued in their classrooms, which threw me off because they had such luxury surrounding them. From what I saw the students were intrigued to a point because they had to be focused to learn the lesson. The older the students the less attentive they were in class, which has been a relatable topic in the United States as well. In Brighouse’s article “Moral and Political Aims of Education”, it states, “At the foundation of the arguments for preparing children to be autonomous and preparing from for the labor market is the idea that these are extremely valuable for them to be able to live flourishing lives. The school should see itself as having an obligation to facilitate the long-term flourishing of the children.” The work being done at La Inmaculada is based on the core curriculum and not pushing the students outside of their creative minds. There are many students who do not pay attention in class because it is basic and neutralized for all students to understand. Some of the art classes challenged children to be creative, but there was still this mentality that if you do not follow my model and rubric then you are doing it all wrong. This mindset has been placed in students here and in the United States. They leave a little room for interpretation, but take away the ability to build and find that creative path because you must stick to the topic of choice provided by the teacher. I even noticed that some of the teachers were slightly getting bored or tired out because they had us teach lessons when they were not prepared at all. I did not mind teaching a lesson, but even the own teachers do not want to be there so how does that mentality make the students feel better and confident within their own classroom? Defining a just education is difficult, but I believe that if I create a comfortable classroom with more room for creativity then students can find their passion and goals at a young age. I want to be able to create that feeling so that as they get older those dreams are not diminished and instead made into a reality.
A high-quality education is what I would classify Roosevelt High School. Those students were diverse in culture, languages, and other arts throughout their education. The students there were receiving a quality education, a quality level of sports teams, and the arts program is advanced beyond belief. These students have it all at the tips of their fingers and can learn to be great starting at a young age. Roosevelt provided extra learning forms inside of the classrooms like a wide variety of chairs, white board tables for creative minds, labs to help students work out their thoughts, nice facilities for education and sports, and so much more. The students at Roosevelt were receiving great educations and that makes me wonder if they are fully aware of the students in surrounding areas that do not have the same necessities as them. They mentioned that students would do service in other communities, but were they taking anything away from these experiences? Did they send the kids to other neighborhoods to boost their ratings and add another thing to their resume? There are many questions about whether the students were learning about the education systems around the rest of Peru or they did it for a status to uphold. This school was overwhelming to take in, but they do deserve their big title of a school. I think that a high-quality education can be found in schools with less materials. Schools in smaller communities that have little to no resources can still help students to strive and understand the use of the outside world. This reminds me Tupac Amaru and how those students had a structure to teach in, but the buildings were not safe for natural disasters, but they still taught to educate the students on outside classroom topics. Although they were presented with limited materials they still worked hard inside the rooms to help educate students to the best of their abilities. The opportunity to have many classes on other main topics like math, reading, science, and English, they had work shop classes to learn about hair, building projects, and other necessities the students will need to know when they move on out of school in the future. They provided alternate opportunities for learning because not every student will strive in a classroom setting. Sometimes all it takes is for them to get their hands a little dirty to find their true potential. In “The Global Achievement Gap” article by Wagner, it is stated that, “Students are graduating from both high school and college unprepared for the world of work.” I agree with this statement and this is one policy I wish schools in the United States would focus on more. There are many students, myself included, who are going to college and then graduating not knowing how to do our own taxes, how to change a tire, how to jump start a car, and many other basic survival needs that we should understand how to do. I think that this is a focus that I will try to have in my future classrooms for my students because they need to understand basic needs even when the schools do not provide resources.
Equality in education is hard to define, like the other major questions throughout this report. Fe y Alegría was a school beyond belief that works hard to keep kids in school and to help them receive a good education. For the conditions that the children would walk to just to receive a quality education was difficult every single day, but they did it so they could get the benefit of learning and how to use that in the real world someday. The school was clean and organized and the students received free tuition which was another perk to being a great school. Creating an equal space within the classroom walls is always a difficult task to do as a teacher, but in one of my classes I could see the teacher bring everyone together by talking about their culture and languages. I spoke about this in my most recent blog post, but it was so memorable that I will mention it again. The students learned about their Peruvian language, Quechua. This made them feel ashamed at first because other people would make fun of them for their culture. Everyone is ashamed at some points in their life, but because this happened so frequently, the language has begun to die out because parents are not teaching their children to spare them the embarrassment. This teacher could create an equal environment by taking key pointers away from their culture to help the students to understand and appreciate where they come from instead of running and hiding away. Discrimination of people because they are not the majority is a major problem all over the world. As a teacher, it is my job to continue to learn about what goes on outside of the classroom and work it back inside the classroom. Students need to be introduced to what is surrounding them and bringing their attention to major problems, such as discrimination. Creating a comfortable and equal environment will be my biggest goal that I will constantly work at inside and outside of the classroom. People should not be afraid of asking questions and learning more. The start to get an equal classroom stems from the use of material goods. When not provided by the government resources to help students succeed is difficult and frustrating as an educator. Inequalities are also present in power with authorities and this calls for stronger teacher-student relationships. “For promoting equality of love, care and solidarity, we argue that schools need to develop an appreciation of the intrinsic role that emotions play in the process of teaching and learning, to provide a space for students and teachers to talk about their feelings and concerns, and to devise educational experiences that will enable students to develop their emotional skills or personal intelligences as a discrete area of human capability.” Human capability of our students can be stretched far and wide. I would like to create a larger classroom full of creativity and activities that will get the mind moving in new ways other than to sit down and listen to a lecture. At such a young age, children need to develop their emotions to be open and learn new skills that are out of their comfort zone. This ability can push children to new intelligences and find passions in their life that they can hope to stay with and work hard to achieve great goals in their life.