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La Aurora de Mi Corazón

by Kate Springer
Teach Immersion Chile—Six Month Program

Kate Springer Normally it’s impossible to be alone in a classroom in La Aurora de Chile. Even with the lights out, door closed, hiding in a corner of the classroom the kids always find me. At first I longed for quiet moments by myself, but now, sitting here alone in my classroom after hours, with only one month left to spend with them, I wish those little streams of life would trickle through the doorway.

I sit here, scribbling away, zigzagging through rivers of memories to find that one recuerdo that will capture these six months, but I can’t pick just one. The dances, barbecues, competitions, and miscommunications all lead to the same sea of smiles, the sound of luminous laughter. Looking out the window, sunlight reveals hundreds of tiny fingerprints on the glass. Those prints mark the tangible curiosity of my Chilean students as they studied the colorful decorations half-hazardly taped to every surface of their English classroom. The kids have learned the days of the week, months of the year, colors, numbers, and many silly songs, but what they may never fully comprehend is what they taught me.

Before coming to Chile, I had no experience as a teacher and spoke broken Spanish. As a recent college graduate eager to travel and learn a language, The CIEE Teach Immersion Chile program fused a number of my interests, but I worried about teaching. And teaching was harder than I imagined. There have certainly been times when my classroom turned to chaos, but even when no one knew exactly what was going on, humor emerged amidst the havoc.

As the months progressed, the language barrier evaporated and my teaching qualms dissolved, but the power of laughter never faltered. Like a fabulous new bouncy ball, laughter leapt and bounded through the halls of La Aurora de Chile. We laughed at our misinterpretations, my Spanish pronunciation, and their Michael Jackson dance moves. My chiquillos taught me more than any grammar game or spelling bee could ever teach them. They taught me that laughter transcends language barriers and thus, has the power to connect worlds both big and small.