I returned to the US on Sunday night after being in Quito for 6 weeks. As you all may recall, I went to study with a program from Portland State University. The program was specifically for graduate students and practicing Speech-language pathologists with a focus on Spanish-English language development and disorders. I highly recommend the text for my course Bilingual Language Development and Disorders in Spanish English Speakers, 2nd Ed. by Dr. Brian Goldstein. I learned so much about the technical aspects of bilingual language development and practical approaches to the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders in Spanish English bilinguals.
With my program, I traveled to Otavalo, a city about 2 hours from Quito that is known for its market where you can buy anything from food to clothes. We also traveled to Cotacachi, a city known for selling leather. We also got to explore a crater lake near Cotacachi called Cuicocha!
Another trip I took with my program was to the Amazon jungle. We traveled to a small community near Misahualli called Shiripuno. There we learned how to make chocolate from a Cacao plant and how they use termites as mosquito repellant. We also went tubing on the Río Napo, and took caminatas through the jungle as well!
Another big part of my program in Quito was volunteering at an assigned clinic site to learn from practicing speech-language pathologists. I was assigned to a site in Amaguaña, a town outside of Quito. I volunteered at a school for children with disabilities from CP to Autism to Down Syndrome. I learned a lot from the speech-language pathologists there, and was able to participate in therapy as well.
During the course of the 6 weeks, in addition to living with a host family, I took Spanish classes 4x/week for 3 hours to build conversational skills, learn grammar, and learn technical terminology relevant to my profession. I will say, my Spanish has definitely improved and I have more confidence when talking about what I do for a living!
My journey back to the US was a bit stressful with a cancelled flight, missed connection and the need to stay over night in a hotel…but I am ecstatic to be back home!
Since I do not return to work for a few more weeks, I plan on creating an inservice for my colleagues to share the knowledge that I have gained from this experience.