A mixed bag

Benefits: 8
Support: 4
Fun: 7
Facilities: 5
Safety: 10

Potential Teachers:

I want to begin by saying if you are coming to the EOD program through Bridge you won't be disappointed in terms of the skills you will learn and the practice you will get. I had some teaching background prior to my arrival in Chile; however, the intensity matched with the breadth and depth of materials covered throughout my month long course at Bridge proved beyond useful. You will be begin teaching classes within the first week of your training. But don't worry, the lectures, reading, and breakout session will prepared you and offer amble means by which to reflect on your teaching. Although I had taken some teacher training in graduate school, I found that the course Bridge offered to far surpass my previous training.

As for the EOD experience, I have had a great time with both my students and my fellow Chilean colleagues. In terms of the personal, this country and culture far surprised my hopes. I was quickly welcomed into the fold and made part of the community. Family is an important element of Chilean culture and the openness with which you accept this and live this you will be returned that warmness in kind.

However, on the flip side of this, you will need to realize that while Chileans are open they can be easily offended. This is usually because of cultural missteps that are bound to happen. Don't let that intimidate you. But the one element of Chilean culture that complicates this is that Chileans tend to skirt conflicts, so even though they might be offended they won't tell you. This can lead to some passive aggressive behavior on their part. You need to communicate everyday and continually ask questions and ask for things to be clarified. If you don't, you'll wind up isolated in your home. The Ministry does little to prepare you for this and it appears that they do little to prepare host families for cross-cultural visitors. You might feel like you're being asked to live up to some standard you don't understand--and you are.

There are several drawbacks to this program. The Ministry of Education offers little training prior to your arrival in your town. If I hadn't had my experience at Bridge, I think I would have floundered. Additionally, the resources at schools varies, so be prepared for anything and mostly hands on approaches. If you have a reliance on technology it would be best to shake that. The regional representative in my area like many others has a way of being absent and aloof. You will have to handle most problems that arise yourself. A major difficulty with the regional representatives is their tendency to leave vital visa paperwork unattended for quite sometime. There were several volunteers in my area that never received their visas and were almost deported because of our representative's negligence.

You should be prepared for difficult classes and a lack of a study/classroom culture. Chilean students aren't asked throughout their time in school and often act as if they are in the midst of recess even during classroom sessions. While you will not have to manage the attention of the entirety of a class (most of the time), you will find that students will act out often and be rude. Most of this can be and is countered by making your lessons as active as possible and also as physical as possible. Make lessons hands on. Provide a lot of colorful material and be prepared to act and mime yourself. Make the language something lived and participated. But even still there is a great resistance among students to pay attention at times.

Additionally, be prepared for your schedule to apparently change on a daily basis. This is not because there is no set schedule it is just that events, programs, and special meetings will come up that no one will have remembered to have told you about prior.

Lastly, be open to a loose interpretation about being on time. Things never, never, and I mean never, start when they are suppose to even in schools. Plan accordingly with your lessons and don't sweat it.

The kids will be trying, but I would say that well over 90 percent of your class time will be of great value to your students and to you. You will learn a lot about thinking on your feet and preparation for classes. You will definitely gain some stripes.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would