Bayza Senbbetta is a sophomore bilingual/bicultural elementary education major in the College of Education. She received a Jepsen International Scholars Program Endowment scholarship to participate in a four-week trip to Alcalá de Henares, Spain, in the summer of 2015.
Through the “Jepsen Challenge,” your donations large and small help aspiring education majors afford to participate in unique study abroad opportunities offered by the College of Education. Alumnus Keith Jepsen ’67, M.S. ’68, and his spouse, Kathleen Dore, will match up to $25,000 in donations made by June 30, 2016, to the Jepsen International Scholars Program Endowment Fund and the College of Education Global Initiatives fund.
What was one of your most memorable experiences in Alcalá de Henares?
This is a very difficult question. Spending time with my host family was very memorable, even if we were just talking, watching something together, or eating dinner. I learned many new words in Spanish from my family and I will always remember those new words because of the fun stories that go along with them. Feeling like part of the family was really amazing and I will always remember our little moments together.
How important was the scholarship support you received through the College of Education?
The funding I received via the Jepsen Scholarship meant that my dream of studying abroad became a reality. Honestly, without receiving this scholarship it would have been very difficult or impossible to make my trip a reality. I am so grateful that I was able to receive funding that lead to so many wonderful experiences that have left a great impact on life and will help me make an impact on the lives of others.
How do you think the experience better prepared you for a future career in the field of education?
After studying abroad I understand what it is like to feel lost at times in a new setting and struggle with communication. Now I can take my experiences and really understand what it is like to be in my student’s shoes. Not only does study abroad bring a deeper level of understanding and personal connection to students who come from different backgrounds, but it also encourages the teacher to bring a global perspective to all students. Living in another country leads to a broader global perspective and awareness of other cultures and events that are important. Teachers with this global perspective are more likely to make global connections in the classroom and expose their students to a variety of cultures and viewpoints, helping their students become successful global citizens in the future.
Why do you think it is important for future teachers to have an international experience before they have their own classrooms?
It is very important for educators to experience study abroad in order to better understand and connect to a diverse group of students. Many students are English language learners, are new to the country or state or come from different cultural backgrounds. If a teacher has never experienced living in another country and adjusting to the culture, language, and many other differences, they cannot connect to students with similar experiences.
Why did you choose this particular study abroad experience?
The fact that the program was specifically for education majors helped me decide to participate because experiencing the school system of another country is very valuable as a future educator and working with children who are learning English with Spanish as their native language is very relevant since I am an aspiring bilingual educator.