TeachingTraveling.com: Welcome, Anna Drapkin! Tell us a bit about your background.
Anna: I’m a 24 year old Bostonian at the end of an eight month experience living and teaching English in southern Spain.
Originally from a small town in Maine, I first became hooked on travel during a high school trip to France and Italy. Swimming against the strong tides in Nice, taking a boat cruise along the Seine, viewing the lights of the Eiffel Tower at night, playing cards on a high speed train that zipped through the French countryside jump started my love affair with travel.
Thinking I wanted to study international affairs, I enrolled at Tufts University. Although I never took a class in International Relations at Tufts, it was at college that I was able to first live abroad in Madrid, Spain.
After college, I served for two years as a National Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools, a national non-profit that provides high quality after school programs for low-income middle school students. One of the highlights of my time as a Teaching Fellow was translating for our Spanish-speaking families. I realized that the ability to speak another language provides an additional layer of trust and communication. Families enjoyed teaching me Spanish and we laughed together whenever I made a mistake (which happens quite often!) The travel bug bit me during my second year in the Fellowship, and I decided to apply to this teaching program in Spain.
TT: Tell us more about this teaching fellowship in Spain!
A: Currently, I live in a small Spanish town with my boyfriend, where some of our best moments involve simply stopping to talk on the street with our neighbors. We have become a part of this community: inviting people over for dinner, attending community theater performances such as “Flamenco School Musical”, and joining in local holidays and celebrations. Recently, my parents visited us for a week of the Feria, which is like a New England fair with a Spanish twist. You can read more about my experiences in my blog, Taste of Olives.
As an American abroad, I am always aware of my position as an unofficial diplomat. My boyfriend and I are the only Americans in our town, so everything that we do reflects on the image of our country as a whole. I think it’s very important for Americans to remember this fact as we enjoy our travel experiences.
TT: Amazing! How did you find this travel opportunity?
A: This opportunity to teach English in a Spanish public school is available online by clicking THIS LINK. I highly recommend this program, especially if you love teaching and have even a basic understanding of Spanish!
TT: I hope a bunch of TeachingTraveling.com readers apply for this great-sounding fellowship! Now, do you have any funny story of your time abroad that pops to mind, Anna?
A: In my first week as an English teacher here, one of my sixth graders asked me if I go home to the United States every night!
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a teacher?
A: I am still at the beginning of my teaching career, but I look forward to bringing Spanish language and culture to my new students in Boston next year. I hope to create a classroom experience where students become more sensitive and aware of other cultures while gaining fluency in a foreign language. In a concrete way, I hope to start a pen pal program between the two schools, celebrate Spanish holidays with my students and teach them about differences and similarities in our cultures.