Imagine travelling around Europe and other parts of the world for an entire year! You are able to see the sights, learn the languages, and meet new people. This would be the most amazing opportunity! This is what our own lovely Spanish teacher, Ms. Elliot has been doing last year, travelling and exploring a variety of stunning places: Argentina, Chile, Buenos Aires, Honduras, Italy, Guatemala, Greece, Turkey, and Spain, to name a few. Her main purpose of the trip was to visit all Spanish speaking countries, which she practically accomplished!
Not only did Ms. Elliot get the chance to visit these places, but she was able to visit some friends from the past whom she has remained in touch with and stayed with them. She also had friends that came over to where she was, to meet with her and travel with her, meaning she was able to share her experiences with others.
Once a week, she would email all her friends and family at home, kind of like an “electronic journal” as Ms. Elliot describes it. In these emails, she would describe her week in that place and where she was off to next. She would add a little history in her notes, describing some of the major historical facts of the city, architecture and monuments that she had seen. One of the journals that she showed me was from her last day in Italy; a memory that she said she will never forget. This memory was about a fantastic gym her and her Italian friend went to. She explained, “This was the biggest facility I had ever seen! We headed straight for the water therapy and sauna areas. The Jacuzzi pools were bigger than my entire apartment in Florence. There were pools with seats so the jets hit your legs and arms, there were lounge-style seating so the jets were all along your back, legs, and more.” I don’t know about you, but I certainly would never forget this.
When Ms. Elliot wasn’t able to send emails to her friends and family, she was actually writing and putting pictures, and objects into little books, creating several small scrapbooks. This way she was able to show them to her students and explain the new things she discovered about the different places she visited. An interesting picture she showed me was a picture of Jersey Shore’s Snooki, who was in Florence, Italy at the time, and was able to snap a picture of her! She gets a kick out of telling her students that they are actually friends!
One really important aspect of her trip was how much she learned through the languages and culture of the places she visited. She emphasizes that “travelling is some of the best education you can find, and that learning is lifelong.”
Ms. Elliot had a fantastic year on her sabbatical, but is happy to be back home to the place where she was truly missed by her students. She was extremely happy to share the memories of her trip with me and her students, but still, she says, “nothing is the same as being there.”