I have now been in Portugal for three weeks. After two weeks observing the classroom, I began to take a more active role in lessons this past week. I have also visited more sites around the country.
As I mentioned, I don’t have much experience with children. This has added another learning experience into the mix, but it helps that the kids treat me like something of a celebrity (quite the ego boost, even though I'm not sure I'm worthy of the distinction). I have also enjoyed the chance to see elementary school education first hand, since I have not spent time in an elementary school classroom in over a decade. Today, the teacher I was working with brought examples of different kinds of old technology from throughout history. Alongside centuries-old navigation instruments, such as a globe that with an inaccurate depiction of the Americas, she included a film-based camera from her childhood and a 1990s cassette tape. This was a fourth grade class, so the students were born around 2007, the year the iPhone came out. It occurred to me that they may never have seen these devices that I used at their age– and I am only 23!
I have also had the opportunity to visit with several high school classrooms to help them practice English. With the younger children, my primary role is to introduce English vocabulary into lessons. Many of the high school students can speak English at a conversational level, and enjoy the opportunity to ask me questions about my personal background and American culture. When studying languages in the past, I always jumped at the chance to speak with natives, so I enjoy helping students of my own language do the same.
Outside of the classroom, I have continued to explore Portugal. I spent last weekend in Lisbon, and I already consider it one of my favorite cities I have visited. It is visually striking, with white buildings with red tile roofs situated between rolling green hills and the blue sea. The white buildings provide a canvass for the creative and colorful street art for which the city is known. At night, the winding streets come alive, as revelers pack the countless taverns, dance clubs, and wine bars. I had the opportunity to attend a fado performance, which is a traditional Portuguese folk music. When I travel, I seek out live music performances and unique cultural experiences, so the fado show was a great way to enjoy both at once. Meanwhile, back in Porto, I attended a Champions League soccer match with my host family. The home team, FC Porto, won 3-1. I am a big sports fan, so attending a European soccer game was high on my bucket list.
That’s all for now. This weekend I will visit Vigo, Spain, about two hours north of Porto. Next week, I will continue to take on more responsibility in the classroom – I even have to plan a whole lesson! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Below: Lisbon Skyline, Lisbon Street Art, and me at the Porto match