Two of our University Settlement Adult Literacy Program teachers recently took part in the Hunter College Study Abroad program in Puerto Rico. This unique program offered the opportunity to engage with education and educators in Puerto Rico, deepening the close ties between Puerto Rico and New York. They learned firsthand how the historical, social and political contexts of Puerto Rico impact English as a Foreign Language learners and educational systems, and worked side by side with local Puerto Rican English language teachers. This program gave them an opportunity to immerse themselves in critical inquiry about English language teaching in settings outside the US. They visited eight schools, learned about bilingualism from Puerto Rican university professors, worked with students, judged an English contest, and conducted community service.
One teacher had this to say about her experience:
“This Education and Language Teaching in Puerto Rico program was an excellent study abroad course to learn about bilingual programs in Ponce schools. There were plenty of opportunities to observe and collaborate with English language teachers in K-adult classrooms as well as volunteer in community service projects. In just five days, we could plunge into Puerto Rico’s culture, learn to dance salsa, and study its resilient history.
Furthermore, we could experience beautiful colonial architecture with pastel-colored facades in Old San Juan and evocative murals around every corner in Ponce. We enjoyed the warmth of Caribbean breezes and splendor of tall coconut palms wherever we went. Besides this, we had scrumptious mofongo – fried plantains mashed with meat or seafood – and met many warm-hearted people. Most importantly, we acquired different perspectives towards teaching bilingual students.
I am so grateful and blessed to have attended this course. I am indebted to the generosity of the Adult Literacy Program at University Settlement and appreciate their support.”