Uruguayan teachers get Texas-sized experience
Imagine eating tacos for the first time or stepping on a plane. Two dozen teachers from Uruguay are in Austin for a teacher exchange experience that is Texas-sized.
"Our country fits three times in Texas. So imagine the size," said English language teacher Gabriel Reyes.
Reyes teaches English to Spanish-speaking students in his home country of Uruguay. Literacy in any language is a challenge.
"I work in poor areas in Uruguay. People are very poor. They don't read. They don't like to study," said Reyes.
As part of the Uruguay Fulbright Commission and in collaboration with the Texas International Education Consortium, 26 Uruguayan public education teachers immerse themselves in how Austin ISD educated kids, including the administration level.
"Every moment is like a teachable moment," said Megan Cormack a Spanish teacher.
Cormack hosts two teachers at her home and in the classroom.
"There's lots of surprises. It's really neat to see how they react to simple things that we're used to like washing machines, or drinking fountains or the technology in our classrooms," said Cormack.
Cormack says it's an authentic way to show children how to cooperate and learn about other cultures.
"First time here in the states. First time everything. First time tacos. First time plane. First time Dr. Pepper," said Reyes.
For little learners, it's a memorable experience.
"It's cool because you can see different people from different countries," said Pillow Elementary first-grader Lexia.
Uruguayan teacher Marianna followed in her father's footsteps to become a teacher even when she had opportunities to choose a different career.
"I love what I do. I love the children. And I'm very happy doing what I do," said Marianna.
The group will return home at the end of the week, but the passion they share for education is clear. Once the Uruguayan teachers return, they will hold a seminar to teach others the strategies they learned at Austin ISD.