In August of 2009, I was honored to be able to attend the University of Guadalajara in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This was made possible through the generosity of the Carlisle Education Foundation, and the Davida Fox-Melanson Grant. This opportunity enabled me to see a country I had not visited before, and expand my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture. I am excited to be able to share this new-found knowledge with my colleagues and students.
During my two-week stay in Puerto Vallarta, I took the public bus to the University and attended classes for five hours each morning. The professors were lively and interesting, and the classes were small so that everyone had a chance to participate. In the afternoon, I returned to my temporary home where the learning continued. Hilda, our wonderful landlady and long-time resident of Puerto Vallarta, would have a meal ready for the tenants in her house. She shared stories and memories with us at every meal. One day she invited a friend to teach us how to make tamales!
My evenings were spent completing homework assignments, watching the local news, and occasionally watching a movie on TV or at the nearby movie theatre—all en Español, of course! I also spent time exploring the town, visiting museums, and attending cultural events with my classmates. I took many photographs including signage, advertising, and food labels to show students how the Spanish language is used for typical daily activities just as English is used here in the U.S. I also captured some of the local wildlife—although Puerto Vallarta is a busy harbor, there were pelicans everywhere. In one small village, I saw a tree with 30 iguanas in it!
I brought back several artifacts including restaurant menus, CDs of children’s music, DVDs of cartoons, Spanish language flashcards, instruments, and a gorgeous print of the Aztec calendar (pictured at right). Not only will I be using the photographs and artifacts in my own classes, but I will also be lending them to my colleagues so that more students can benefit from my great adventure in Mexico.
Carlisle Public Schools