Rebecca Vyduna's Portfolio | RebeccaVyduna.com | rebecca.vyduna@gmail.com

 

Batman was never my idol. Sure, I had seen the movies and indulged my younger brother a few times in a little dramatic play, but the masked and muscled super hero never really achieved a special place in my heart. Despite my historic indifference, an experience during my studies in Guadalajara changed my appreciation of Batman. For four months, I lived with a family that had two small children, a girl of two and a boy of four. One night, when I was busy with homework, little Luis Eduardo padded cautiously into the room and asked quite seriously if I liked Batman. Of course, not wanting to miss a chance at a new friend, I replied enthusiastically. That night, we set to work, building “la cueva de Batman”, an episode that became a nightly ritual throughout my stay with the Bermudez’s. By flashlight, I read his Spanish Batman stories while he pointed to the pictures to learn the English words too. Through his basic vocabulary, I developed my Spanish conversation skills and offered him an outlet to explore his creativity. Of the many adventures that colored my studies abroad, I looked forward to my Batman time the most. There was something magical about the combination of teaching and sharing in a cultural exchange, two passions of mine. On the carpeted floor of my Guadalajaran home-away-from-home, covered in propped-up paisley bed sheets, I began to shape a vision that would quickly become a concrete goal: teaching English as a second language.

 

Though this is how I reached my current interests in bilingual education, choosing teaching as a career was never really a question for me. I was a teacher the moment my sister became my first student, four years after my birth. It was always a natural curiosity in me, and I sought ways to feed that throughout my childhood. It ranged from working in a toy store to running my own neighborhood daycamp in my backyard. In many ways, studying elementary education in college was like finally being home. Still, I will never forget the moment I solidified the belief that teaching was a perfect fit. Surrounded by thirty eager kindergarteners, in one of my student teaching placements, I froze time for a second to observe the scene. There was a quiet energy in the room that produced an audible hum of activity. All were busy working on a project to create “100 Things That Roll” as a mural for our hallway. The activity I had planned had generated a momentum and the class was alive and animated. The feedback and language I had used with the students was clearly working, as they each seemed to find their own place in the project. Some worked together, verbally delivering a status report (“we have 22 more to go, keep going!”), while others focused on their rolling object and helped a neighbor render theirs. I stood in the middle of it all, pleased with the atmosphere I had created. This is what teaching is to me. I believe in the real and true excitement that comes with learning something new, the rush of adrenaline when a former enigma makes sense, and the value of inspiring a student to discover this on their own terms. Above all, I believe in building a classroom community of learners in which I facilitate their interests and intrigues, working to make the magic of learning possible for each of them.

 

After the inspiring moment that day, I have looked at each similar one that followed with the same unabashed joy. Teaching Kindergarten in Guatemala brought many moments full of magic, but with even more meaning. Gratifyingly, combining my love of teaching with an ESL classroom made my job even more incredible. It is my wish to continue this dynamic environment. I am confident that all of my past experiences and personal values will bring energy and excitement to my students and school community. Professionally, my international teaching, Spanish language competencies, and background in education make me a strong candidate for a teaching position in a Spanish-speaking community. Rediscovering Batman marked the beginning of my quest to explore living and learning in a Spanish culture. Moving back home to Chicago and applying my skills in an environment where English fluency is of even more importance will complete the journey. April, 2005