Readers of LLU might remember a series of blog posts I did entitled “Teaching What You Thought You Knew,” in which I chronicled my struggles with the realization that I was teaching my students what I knew about Colombia, a place that I had not visited since before, yes before, my students were born. How was this better, I wondered, than the homogenized representation of “Culture” that appears in our students textbooks? The fact that I was including information about a country based upon first-hand information from 30+ years ago made me feel like a fraud.
What is more, my job as a language teacher is to prepare my students for the opportunity to speak Spanish in The Real World. I have not been in said Real World for far too long. If I were to go, would I survive? Would it all be a blur? Would I be seen as an even bigger charlatan than I worried I already was?
Well, oh boy, I am about to find out.
Tomorrow, I fly to Bogotá, Colombia. It will be 30 years almost to the day since the last time I went as a Rotary International Graduate Scholar to spend a year in Bogotá sto study the literature of Gabriel García Márquez. I would attend classes at The Universidad del Los Andes and live with the family of a friend I had met while I studied in Colombia as an undergrad. Not two months after I arrived, GGM won the Nobel Prize for literature, and it was an incredible experience to be there while it happened.
I am only going to be away a week… but I haz goalz:
1) I want to look into Service Learning Projects for our students that can be done during our Winter Term (the month of January) in Colombia;
2) I want to re-connect with my Colombian host family (in particular my host mother who is now in her late 80s or early 90s), and
3) I want to immerse myself in the language and feel what my students feel when they are thrust out of their comfort zone and expected to interact in a language that, up until this moment, is only spoken in school.
While there, I plan to do some ds106radio broadcasts from my trusty iPodTouch (provided I can find open wifi). The live stream can always be found here. When I get it set up I will send out a tweet from the LLU twitter account (@LangLabUnleashd) If I can’t make it work (live), I will try and record some sounds from the city and from my adventures and upload them to the stream (pray I don’t crash the station…). Or I will upload them here on LLU.
Why am I doing this technology schtuff, you might ask? Well, I would like to try this out “from the field” and also to see how this might work as an assignment for my students in the not so distant future. Plus, okay fine, it’s cool and it’s fun to test the limits of technology…. and yeah, I wanna see if #ds106radio can broadcast from places outside of North America…just cuz.
So yeah, I expect to be reality-slapped in a big way on this adventure. I expect to get lost, get confused, have my head hurt from using so much Spanish. I am excited, I am terrified…and I have not even begun to pack. Oh dear.
Featured Image: Bogotá Colombia in the 1980s Foto Credit: PBouchard