Mitchell Voth, Education

Mitchell Voth with studentsMy education as an undergraduate of Spanish didn’t feel complete upon graduation—I wasn’t satisfied. I knew so much more existed for me to learn and experience in the vast realm that we call “Spanish.” No, a diploma wasn’t good enough, and I wanted more. Of all the things I learned as a Spanish major at KU, complacency was not one of them.

This is possibly the best thing that one can obtain from the course of an education: the desire to know more. The Spanish major advanced my ability to evaluate Spanish-American colonial literature and contextualize Mexican theatrical works, but I wanted to develop a personal identity with a Hispanic culture that went beyond the classroom. In fact, I felt I owed it to my Spanish education and to myself to dive into one of the many Hispanic cultures about which I had been taught.

That sense of responsibility has led me to dive into the culture of Roatán, Honduras, and I am making my splash as a 3rd grade teacher at Children’s Palace Bilingual School. Roatán is a small island, but an interesting mix of languages and cultures thrives within these 90 square miles. I live in Los Fuertes, a densely Hispanic area. As a suburbian kid, I could consider Los Fuertes to be a rundown place with its shacks and street dogs. But as a suburbian kid, I value the potential for self-redefinition in a place like this and appreciate the reality it holds.

My work as a 3rd grade bilingual teacher yields a differ-ent type of reality. In fact, it is surreal. I studied Spanish and Journalism—not Elementary Education. I learn how to teach as my students learn what I teach. It’s scary. I can’t help but feel inept at times. However, this sense of insecurity is what I wanted—the opposite of complacency. And every day that I improve my teaching, I also increase my intimacy with the Spanish language and one of its many cultures. I can’t complain, and I’m striving so that my future students can’t complain either.

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