Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bilingual education

“Our languages may be different, but our hearts are the same…they beat.”
Sharon Geinett

Yearning to Learn 

(courtesy of Gov. Hill) 

What's a girl to do on her day off in the frigid North? Of course, go spend time with a bunch of 4-8 year olds at one of the local primary schools. Just the other day I was hoping that I would be able to connect with a friend's mom who teaches at Government Hill, which is an Spanish-English Immersion primary school in Anchorage. Unsure of this happening, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Star at the grocery store the other day. We talked and she said that it would be great if I wanted to stop by and check out the program and the classrooms...but that they would put me to work. What an amazing program they have going on. It seems to be the best kept secret, that shouldn't be a secret. I am not sure why the school districts and others don't model education off of the program that is in place at Government Hill. Recalling my elementary school days, well I don't want to think about them and I don't remember much in the way of meaningful education. Walking into through the doors it was refreshing to see the walls of the halls covered with art and writing projects featuring both the Spanish and English language. Not only are native English speakers learning Spanish, but native Spanish speakers are learning English and there is also the neighborhood program for students who are from the area, but who are not involved with the immersion program. The kids are so eager to learn and the classrooms are filled with beaming pupils representing so many ethnic backgrounds...and all of them are shown respect, attention, and given a great opportunity to learn at his and her own pace. The teachers seem to have developed a real community and it is evident in their teaching and helping one another out in the classroom. I was greatly privileged with the opportunity to help out with various activities. My favorite being working with 2nd graders in their Spanish classroom, playing La Lotería (bingo) Navidad style (Christmas). I was surprised how much Spanish I have retained and I seemed to forget my rustiness while enjoying "teaching" these girls and boys some Christmas vocabulary.
I am so excited to see these kids exposed to a new language at such an early age. Whether they go on to use their second language, they have been exposed to a different way in which to view the world. The have additional lenses that they can wear to see and think about the world in a bigger sense, yet at the same time narrowing the world down to the fact that we are more similar than we are different.

Read more about the ongoing programs at:

I find myself being more drawn to wanting to teach literacy, both to those in some far away land I have yet to venture to, and to those right here. I want to learn more languages, and serve in anyway I can. The grand gift of education in my life is precious and I want to pass that on to the next generation and to those who give up the hope of having an education or learning how to read.

I find this quote inspiring and yet thought provoking. Something that seems so natural to me, to those I grew up with in is sometimes hard to imagine children around the world not sitting in a classroom for a good portion of childhood. I hope to reach out and extend the gift that has been given me to many around the globe. 

"Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope...It is a bulwark against poverty...a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right..."
~ Kofi Annan

With teaching as a developing passion, I am stoked to see the HS mightily work in the lives of those I can reach in and out of the classroom. 

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