Nov. 1, 2018
TAB in Brazil: Q&A with Macy Koontz
Each year, dozens of students participate in Teaching Across Borders as part of the Bachelor of Education program. During their 10 weeks abroad, TAB students experience the host culture through activities organized by the partner institutions and volunteer in schools up to 12 hours a week.
While the experiences vary by country, students often take language courses, participate in local holiday celebrations, and experience field trips and cultural outings, all while learning about another education system firsthand.
Currently TAB partners with institutions in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United States and Vietnam.
In this Q & A, Macy Koontz shares her initial impressions of Goiânia, Brazil as well as a few helpful tips for students considering participating in TAB.
What do you hope to gain personally and professionally from this experience?
Personally, I am eager to learn Portuguese and being able to have a conversation in order to build relationships with the locals. Professionally, I am looking forward to learning about the school systems in Brazil and gaining an understanding of some of the ideology behind the teaching in Goiânia. This opportunity will allow me to grow my interests in travel and learning about others, as well as, my ability to teach a range of students through different strategies.
What do you hope people in your host country will gain from your involvement in TAB?
I hope that, through my involvement in TAB, I am able to exchange ideas, language, and opinions that will foster growth in my learning and in those in my host country. I look forward to sharing my love for learning and enthusiasm for education. I feel that programs like this, lead all of those involved to a better understanding of the importance of global citizenship.
How did you prepare personally and professionally for this experience?
In order to prepare personally for this experience, I have been doing a lot of research on Brazil. I have studied some of the history that has made Brazil what is today, as well as, what foods are the most popular in different areas of the country. I recently learned that the city where I will be living, Goiânia, is the second largest green area per inhabitant in the world, right behind Edmonton! In preparation for my experience, my grandfather bought me some CDs from Brazil, when I listen to the music and the language, it opens the door to a whole new world and makes me all the more eager to learn all I can in Brazil. As for professionally, I have been studying Brazilian Portuguese and spent time thinking about what I have learned so far in the education program and how I could connect that to classrooms in Brazil. Also, I remind myself to reflect on my own personal, preconceived notions. What do I think about the country I am in? The people? The education? And then, I make a conscious effort to ignore them to the best of my ability. I recognize that my ideas about Brazilian culture are shaped by what I think I know; however, I want to create space in my mind for what I will learn.
Why did you choose Brazil for your TAB placement?
I chose Brazil because it is a country that I have never been to. Nothing makes me feel better than stepping into another culture. My passion is learning, particularly about other cultures. I yearn for that uncomfortable moment, that awkward stare, or that twinge of apprehension, because generally that means I am learning something. Something that will teach me more about people and how to better connect with them. I am truly so excited for this experience!