Spanish teacher Amy Huckstadt recently returned from a summer trip in Mexico where she's been studying in pursuit of a masters degree in teaching from the University of Southern Oregon. This is the first summer out of three she will be spending in the city of Guanajuato as part of her masters program.
For the last four years, Huckstadt has been teaching Spanish at LT's . This year, she will begin working with juniors and seniors at LT's as well.
Patch sat down with Huckstadt to talk about her travels and find out more about how a trip to Mexico this summer will help Spanish students at LT.
La Grange Patch: How was Mexico? Has visiting the country been on your bucket list for a while?
Amy Huckstadt: It has been amazing studying in Mexico! Yes, it has been on my bucket list for a while. I've been looking into getting my masters for a few years now, but I hadn't been able to find a program I really liked until I found this one. It was well worth the wait! It's my second time going to Mexico. I visited for the first time in 2009 when I visited Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.
Patch: What are you doing in Mexico for you studies?
Huckstadt: I am getting my masters through the University of Southern Oregon in the teaching of Spanish.
Patch: What are you doing in Mexico for fun? Have you been able to get out and about?
Huckstadt: The program is very intensive, so it leaves very little time for fun, but I have been scoping out all of the places that have to do with Don Quijote, because Guanajuato is the Cervantino Capital of America!
Patch: What's are some differences you've noticed between life in the US and in Mexico?
Huckstadt: I noticed that Guanajuato, where I studied, was always very lively throughout the day and night. There would be performances and concerts throughout different plazas in the city, and people were always out and about. I also feel like there was more history of Mexico and Guanajuato that was celebrated quite frequently. The hours they eat are very different than in the United States, the education system is different and there were lots of markets and food stands in Mexico that the U.S. doesn't have—which I loved!
Patch: Will having lived in Mexico help LT students? In what ways can you bring the experience back to them?
Huckstadt: Yes, having lived in Mexico will definitely help LT students. I will be able to teach them about the Mexican way of life, and bring back lots of what I learned about the language to them. I previously lived in Spain for a year and currently use what I learned there to teach my students colloquial phrases and vocabulary that is unique to the country. Now I will be able to do the same with the Spanish from Mexico.
I also learned a great deal about Mexican culture and the stereotypes that exist in the U.S. about Mexico, so I can educate my students about those topics. It has greatly helped me as an educator, because I am able to improve my Spanish over a span of three summers, I can incorporate all of the above information into my classroom, and the program teaches us how to better teach things such as grammar, culture, writing, speaking, etc.
Patch: When did you first get interested in Mexico and the Spanish language?
Huckstadt: I became interested in the Spanish language in seventh grade, my first year taking a Spanish class! I found it fascinating, and always had a desire to become fluent in the language to be able to communicate with diverse groups of people. I became interested in Mexico about three years ago. I had lived in Spain for a year and traveled to various Spanish-speaking countries in South America and Central America, but Mexico was the one country I knew little about, and it is the closest to us! I wanted to get to know the country and people there, and learn more about one of the biggest minority groups in our country.
Patch: What did you miss most about being away from the U.S.?
Huckstadt: Our variety of food! I love Mexican food, but [I] missed the variety that we have in the United States, such as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, etc.
Patch: What is something about your time in Mexico that has left you amazed, awed, humbled etc.
Huckstadt: The kindness of the people in Mexico amazed me. For example, the family I was living with took me in as one of their own and made me feel so comfortable being away from home. People would always greet you on the streets and I felt very safe wherever I went.
Patch: How's the food? What have you been eating?
Huckstadt: The food was great! In Mexico, they seem to eat everything in a tortilla and with salsa, so I ate lots of that! My favorite food though would have to be enchiladas and elote.
Patch: I love elote! Anything else we should know about your trip?
Huckstadt: Mexico is amazing, and I would definitely recommend going to visit Guanajuato. It's a very historic city and I believe it captures the spirit of the country.