¡España, ahí te voy!
My name is Leesa and this is my first post about my journey with CIEE. Before I start discussing my experiences, I want to introduce my motivations and myself. I also want to say that I would appreciate comments you might have over the course of my blogging. I want my posts to detail my time with CIEE and the journey that I am on so that it will be valuable for you as you consider your own path.
I recently graduated from Florida State University with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of Education. I truly enjoy teaching. It gives me the opportunity to lead and make a positive impact in my students' lives. I will consider myself fortunate if I can spend the next 20 or 30 years teaching English to those who are ready and willing to learn it. I have spent the last three years dedicating myself to learning my craft, but I still have a long way to go to master it. I am hopeful that my time in Spain will allow me to grow, learn and ultimately achieve my aspiration of being a truly impactful teacher. I am a proud American of Puerto Rican descent so I want to share how teaching a language and learning a second language can enrich your life in so many ways. I'm proud of who I am and I want to share my journey with you. Please read on to see why...
My background and upbringing led me to pursue a career as a language teacher. I am a native Floridian born in the generation X era. My grandparents are Hispanic. They were born in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. My grandfather is someone who will always be a part of my life. Even though he passed away about 20 years ago, not a day goes by that I don't think about him, mention him in a conversation or recall a fond memory that we shared.
When I was a little girl, my grandfather wasn't around all the time, but when he was around it was special. I remember his presence as if he were still standing here in front of me. He had this grin of mischief and this glare of, "Come on girl, let's go." When he came home from his travels overseas, many times from a country in South America, he would bring me a thoughtful memento back. The gift would be a coin from the country he came back from or sometimes, it would be something as small as a match from a match book that was carved to resemble a ballerina. The gifts he chose for me were so special and unique that as a child, my mind would fill with wonder about the world. I knew I wanted to travel one day. I wanted to see all the places he had been.
I didn't start traveling abroad by myself until about three years ago. I am very fortunate to have traveled with my family, but traveling alone has allowed me to reflect and experience my heritage in a very personal way. My first trip alone was to Puerto Rico; traveling there at the specific moment in my life allowed me to focus on the things that I and I alone cherished most. I had time to truly fall in love with the culture. It was a culture that was so close to my heart that I could not believe that I had not been to see the island sooner. The food tasted exactly the way my grandma cooked it and all of the stories she told me when I was a little girl about the island, they came to life. It was one of those moments in my life when everything sort of clicked when I returned. I knew that my destiny at that moment was to learn more Spanish. Unfortunately, Spanish wasn't fully taught to me growing up for reasons I will never understand but I don't make it a habit of looking back.
During my visit to Puerto Rico, I wrestled with some profound career questions and how I wanted to lead my life. A visit to the island is what I needed. It was as if my grandfather in his own way was sending me a sign. At that moment, I needed one. This visit led to my Masters and my professional focus on teaching languages. Since that time, I haven't stopped traveling to learn, grow and experience the world.
I look forward to blogging regularly to help others on their journey and to inspire them, as I was inspired three years ago in Puerto Rico. It was amazing to see firsthand how and where my grandparents lived. My grandfather’s house was still there and it was as if I could see him as a small boy playing in the front yard with the whole world right before him. That moment inspired me to want to do more and since that moment I have.
My journey is about to start and I hope you will join me on yet another exciting and career defining moment as I travel to Spain. My passion for teaching others the English language is one that I never thought I would have in a million years. Since my Puerto Rico visit, I have taught English in 8 public schools, I have taught all ages and I have even taught in Medellin, Colombia. Right now, I can happily say, I am the teacher to ten wonderfully bright amazing students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. They are from Mexico City, Mexico. The irony of it all is that the last place my grandfather traveled and lived for three years before he was diagnosed with cancer was Mexico City.
This blog is dedicated to my incredible and generous grandfather, Fernando E. Colon. May he forever be remembered as a man who gave his family everything he had with love and dedication. I look forward to hearing from you and discovering your many journeys and adventures.