Kelsey Seegers 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. Illinois State 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.

Kelsey Seegers, a bilingual/bicultural elementary education studies in Spain during the summer of 2015.

Kelsey Seegers, a sophomore bilingual/bicultural elementary education major, studies in Spain during the summer of 2015.

What motivated you to pursue this study abroad opportunity in Spain?

When I heard about this program, I thought that it would be a good challenge for me as a student, educator, and as a global citizen. Even though I never thought that I would have studied abroad my freshman year of college, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity because it has shaped me as a global student and educator. Lastly, I have made lifelong friendships with my fellow educators, professors, and even Spaniards.

Though you’re still a couple of years away from having your own classroom, how do you believe this experience has impacted the way you will teach?

I hope to incorporate geography, culture, and language into every subject so that my students have the opportunity to become multicultural. Lastly, I hope to inspire my students to become global citizens by creating our own worldly adventures in my classroom.

Through this experience I have learned so many new ways to teach English and ESL students or ways to teach another language in general. We were blessed to get to work with amazing educators in the local schools in Alcalá de Henares. I learned how to use board games such as Apples to Apples to help students learn new vocabulary and practice English with their peers in a fun way. Secondly, I learned that TV is a great way to help students learn about other cultures and compare them to their own. For example, the students in Spain learned a lot about U.S. culture from watching The Simpsons. Lastly, one of the American graduate students working in the schools showed me a website to incorporate activity breaks to help the students burn energy and retain their focus. I plan on using all of these methods and strategies in my future classroom to promote multiculturalism and critical thinking.

Now almost one year removed, how do you think this experience has impacted you?

This experience has educated me as a global citizen by learning how each economic system and culture has an impact on the U.S. and vice versa, whether it’s Canada or Australia. It has also inspired a passion for traveling and global learning. As an educator I have more understanding of how students learn and how their culture influences them as a student.

It’s hard to single out one part of the experience, but what’s one lasting memory you would like to share?

My most memorable experience was biking around the streets and meeting up with up with my cousins in Barcelona. We had just happened to pick the same weekend to travel to Barcelona as they did. We were able to meet up and share experiences about our time in Spain. It was so cool to meet up with them and spend time with them 4,000 miles away from our homes in Chicago. My second favorite memory is the night that my host mom showed Amanda (a fellow ISU study abroad student) and I how to make all of our favorite Spanish dishes including patatas bravas and tortilla de patatas.