So in case you somehow didn't know...I am going on my Year Abroad this year and it is now less than 20 days (!!!) until I begin my aventura madrileña! So I thought I would use this first post as a way to explain what I will actually be doing during my year abroad placements. I study Spanish and Portuguese at university, and therefore, I will be splitting my year abroad in half, spending 5 months in Spain and 6 months in Brazil.
For the Spanish part of my year abroad, I am going to be teaching in an international bilingual primary school in the centre of Madrid called SEK Santa Isabel. Santa Isabel is part of a group of schools under the SEK International Schools umbrella which caters for over 5,500 boarding and day students between the ages of 0 and 18 from over 50 nationalities in its centres in Madrid, Barcelona, Almería, Pontevedra, Dublin (Ireland), Les Alpes (France) and Doha (Qatar). The school I will be teaching in is a school for nursery, infant and primary education pupils, however, I will be spending most of my time working with 4-6 year olds, which is by far my favourite age group (although it would be some people's worst nightmare!) The pupils at this school receive a completely bilingual education, with the youngest pupils having 65% of their classes delivered in English, and the older pupils with a 50:50 split. I will be in Spain from September until the end of January, meaning that it is less than 3 WEEKS until I make the big move. I am excited and terrified in equal measures but I know this experience will be the making of me!
Then, in February I will be moving to the other side of the world to spend the second half of my year abroad in the biggest city in South America - São Paulo. Brazil is currently suffering its worst economic crisis in its history. And that is being reflected in increasing numbers of people living on Brazil's streets. There's also a housing shortage crisis, and a crack epidemic. And all of this is combining to emphasise the inequality that already existed in Brazilian society. Brazil's super rich grow even richer as the poor are left behind, and this is particularly evident in São Paulo.
In Brazil I will be doing a voluntary placement with a Christian organisation called Latin Link, which is the same company I went to Guatemala with a few years ago. During my time there I will be going to the streets to meet some of the children that live there, I will sit with them, do activities and generally get alongside them. I will also be walking alongside those who have left the streets through visits to their homes. There are currently plans for a reintegration centre and if it is up and running by February, I will be able to get involved in activities run in this centre and hopefully use my music in some way. Furthermore, a couple of days a week it is planned that I will be involved with a rescue house (Casa Liberdade) for girls rescued from human trafficking.
I am beyond excited for the many adventures that I am going to have this year. I am under no illusion that it is going to be an easy year but I am ready to gain more independence, improve my Spanish and Portuguese and make lots of new friends across the world. If you are that way inclined, can you please keep me in your prayers over the next year. I really appreciate everyone that has already supported me in some way, whether it be through giving some friendly advice or prayerful and financial support...I love you all and thank you so much for journeying with me.
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”