- Posted March 12, 2014 by
East Setuaket, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama
Teaching Down Under
- Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer
As a recent graduate from the State University of New York College at Potsdam, I had the opportunity to plan my studies around student teaching in Australia. I knew that I wanted to student teach in Australia as soon as I saw the large map of Australia as an incoming freshmen at orientation in 2009. I began my application the summer before it was due and gathered all of my recommendation letters as soon as possible. The application put all of the graduate school applications that I just recently finished, to shame. When I was granted an interview, I almost walked out crying. Yes, I understood that I was going to be half way around the world. Yes, I understood that I would go a long time without speaking to my parents. Yes, I understood that the financial obligation would be demanding. However, putting those worries aside, I was accepted and took the plunge and went Down Under to meet some of the most fantastic people of my lifetime and to experience things that you could only dream of. There is simply no experience like this one.
After a very long anticipated wait, I was on a fourteen-hour flight to Brisbane, Australia with twenty other SUNY student teachers. We all quickly built a rapport with one another knowing that we were spending three months together. We spent the next few months living together in the gorgeous coastal beach town called Mooloolaba.
We were all warmly welcomed into every school that we visited on the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast is the coastal area northeast of Brisbane in Australia’s Queensland state. The program is so highly regarded in the area and we all knew that we were representing out country and SUNY schools. We all volunteered for anything and everything in our schools. Some even participated in a trivia night at one of the participating schools and got decked out in red, white and blue. I was able to participate in an adventurous excursion trip with my 8th grade students. We did activities from archery to a giant swing. My students helped me get into a harness and they dragged a heavy rope to launch me up about fifty feet high! They counted down and I swung all of the way down screaming. My students later told me "Ms. Basile, you have a cute scream!" I am still in contact with my two host teachers in Australia who were wonderful mentors and showed me so much. They truly helped me grow into the teacher that I am today.
At the start of the program, we were offered to travel for two weeks in the tropics and down through the infamous Australian Outback. It was honestly two of the best weeks of my life. We saw so much and did activities that I never thought that I would have the confidence to do. We white water rafted down the famous Tully River, near Cairns and we snorkeled and scuba dove in the Great Barrier Reef among many other experiences. I even learnt how to throw a boomerang from a local indigenous woman. I caught it and she said, "you're a wild woman, you can come hunting with me."
After traveling those two weeks, about ten of us from the program traveled on our own after the teaching program was over. We all truly caught the travel bug! I took a month to travel independently with a friend from the program. We flew down to Melbourne, Australia and rented a camper van to travel back up the Pacific Highway, which led us back north to Brisbane. We drove the Great Ocean Road and saw the Twelve Apostles, which are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We stopped in little beach towns and truly mingled with the locals.
Student teaching and traveling in Australia offered an invaluable exposure to not only life but also teaching in other parts of the world. It changed the way I viewed teaching, and made me realize that teaching was indeed what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I am now able to share my new international perspective and global awareness with my future students.