Katie Hughes – a year cut short by the pandemic

Katie Hughes had a Footprinter Grant for her primary school teaching placement in Chile. Here is her final update – in her words “Unfortunately my time in Chile came to an end 5 months early due to the global pandemic. I was heartbroken when I found out I had to come back to Scotland at the end of March.”

Things were looking so good!

After spending two amazing months travelling in Chile and Argentina, I returned to the school at the beginning of March to start teaching again. I was excited to be reunited with all the children, as I had made great bonds with them and really enjoyed teaching them the previous term. When the schools went back after summer we no longer had the former grade 8s to teach which was sad, but we got to meet some new faces in Pre-Kinder and give them their first experience with English!

Lucy and I decided to start an “English conversation group” in addition to the classes we were already organised to teach. The idea of this group was to take the advanced students who were
interested in developing their confidence in spoken English and discuss different topics of interest for 10 minutes every day. We found this to be a huge success as the kids loved it and it felt so
rewarding seeing how much the session was enjoyed and appreciated. Lucy and I had lots of ideas for these classes and were looking forward to putting them into practice.

We had also just arranged a number of new tutoring sessions and had starting planning for these. The rest of the year was looking good and I was also really looking forward to experiencing autumn and winter in Chile.

This was when everything came abruptly to an end. The President Piñera announced the closure of the international borders and almost immediately I received an email of repatriation from Project Trust. This was the worst feeling imaginable for me. It took a while for the initial shock to pass before the sadness kicked in. In addition to loving the project, I had also built such a good
relationship with my host family and it really felt like having to leave my family. I also didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to the teachers and pupils who made the experience so amazing for me.

Reflecting on an abrubt end

In the end I came to terms with the year being cut short. It obviously wasn’t what I had expected and I wish I could’ve been able to stay for the remaining five months but it was something completely out of my control and something I just had to accept. Despite this, I still feel so lucky to have had this amazing experience. I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me.

I met some amazing people and experienced a culture different to my own which helped open my eyes to what goes on in the world outside the UK, including so much injustice. But also a different way of living where people are generally friendlier and talk more openly about their feelings. Not to mention the amazing Latin music and the shared love to “carretear” (party until the early hours of the morning).

This has hands-down been the best experience of my life and has made me want to continue travelling even more! I have now been back in Scotland for almost three months and have been working and saving up in hopes to return to Chile as soon as it becomes possible to.

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