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Global Education, International Teachers

Cultural Stories: Dania Ordóñez

Hispanic Heritage Month is a yearly celebration to recognize and honor the diverse threads that make up the beautiful tapestry of Latinx culture in the U.S. and beyond. At Participate Learning, we are proud to have ambassador teachers coming from fourteen Spanish-speaking countries to share their cultural heritage with students and their communities.

Throughout this month, we are highlighting some of our amazing ambassadors to learn more about them and the impact they have in their classrooms; Dania Ordóñez is a fourth-year ambassador teacher, originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She is currently teaching in a 50:50 dual language, second-grade classroom at Belvoir Elementary School in Pitt County, North Carolina. Read on to learn more about Dania’s cultural story.

When did you start learning a second language, and what kept you motivated to learn?

“I started learning English when I was eleven years old. What kept me motivated the most was knowing that my parents worked hard to invest in my education, and I wanted to make them proud.”

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“The little access to bilingual education in my country was what motivated me the most to follow this profession. I have always thought that education should be the same for students in all social and economic areas.”

How has being a cultural exchange ambassador changed the way you teach?

“My knowledge about global education was very limited prior to working with Participate Learning. This experience has shaped me as a citizen of the world and as an agent of change in education.”

What’s one thing you wish people knew about your home country?

“Honduras is a country rich in flora, fauna, and people who give everything to move the country forward.”

What’s the most interesting place you have traveled to?

“Other than Honduras, Egypt has been the most interesting place I have traveled; I can’t wait to visit Croatia on my next trip!”

What’s your favorite holiday in your country, and how do you celebrate it?

“Christmas! My mom and I spend the whole day cooking. I think more than just a celebration, Christmas is a unique and special time of the year for me and my family. It reminds us of the importance of always sticking together.”

What do you like to do when you have a day off from work?

“I like to work out and spend time learning how to cook dishes from different parts of the world.”

What are some ways you teach students in your class about your culture?

“Since I started working in a dual language program, the reading class has become one of my favorites. It gives me the opportunity to read folk tales from my country as well as informative texts that allow my students to learn important facts about Honduras.”

How will you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in your classroom or school community?

“I am planning to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with music and folktales, virtual and face-to-face cultural presentations to students and parents, and informative morning meetings for my students where they can learn about Hispanic heritage.”

Why do you think global education is important in today’s society?

“The world is not as big as it used to be. Technology has made us feel closer than ever, and our students are exposed to more experiences and identities than ever before. I think that teaching from a global lens can help our students to develop self-awareness of their own identity, culture, and beliefs so they can connect with themselves and also show respect and social awareness for other backgrounds too.”

If you had one piece of advice for a new teacher, what would it be?

“The future of the world is in your hands. Be persistent and work hard to write your own beautiful and unique story in this experience.”

Dania’s cultural story exemplifies how the commitment and hard work of our ambassadors can open the world to their students by authentically exposing them to a new language, culture, and perspective. For more information on how our dual language programs can benefit students, check out our web page.