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Global Education, International Teachers

Cultural Stories: Mayra Porras Ramírez

Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States is celebrated each year from September 15 through October 15. This month-long observance is an opportunity to honor and celebrate 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 cultures with students.

Each week during Hispanic Heritage Month, we will highlight some of our amazing Latinx ambassadors to learn more about their cultures and about the impact they have on their classrooms, schools, and communities in the United States; Mayra Porras Ramírez is a second-year ambassador teacher originally from Guápiles, Limón, Costa Rica. She is currently teaching Spanish at Holly Springs High School in Wake County, North Carolina. Read on to learn more about Mayra’s cultural story.

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

“I love hiking, so I am always looking for trails or parks—I enjoy visiting new places. Sometimes, I just rest and watch Netflix.”

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

“When I was a child, my favorite cousin studied English. She always encouraged me to learn new words and phrases in English. In 2003, I started studying English as a second language.”

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

“Costa Rica is a small country, but its people are the ones who make it big. Those who go there will feel the warmth and happiness of its people. You will not only enjoy its delicious food but also its amazing flora and fauna. Costa Rica is Pura Vida!”

What’s the next place on your travel bucket list?

“I am planning to travel to Spain next summer.”

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

“My favorite holiday is Independence Day. In Costa Rica, we celebrate our independence on September 15, but the activities last a whole week. The kids decorate lanterns and use them while parading the streets on the eve of Independence Day. There is also typically a school band parade on the morning of Independence Day. The towns and streets fill up with children wearing traditional Costa Rican dress and perform traditional dances. Everyone eats and shares food customary to Costa Rica.”

What are some ways you teach students in your class about your culture? What do they love hearing about?

“I like to talk about Costa Rican customs and traditions. My students like it when I talk about school in Costa Rica. I have noticed that they enjoy it when I show real pictures of tourist attractions and my family.”

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

“I am thinking about it because this year, everything is different. I am planning to show my students videos of different ambassador teachers with Participate Learning talking about their countries and cultures.”

What inspired you to become a teacher?

“The connection with people. I like to talk to people and learn about each person I meet. I have learned a lot from my students. Sometimes, I think that I learn more from them than they do from me. They fill my days with energy and good vibes. My students inspire me to be a better teacher.”

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

“This experience has opened my mind. Now, I prepare my classes thinking not only about the content but also about the culture I can transmit. Teaching my students that there are many places, cultures, and people that can enrich their minds.”

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

“Because it gives the opportunity to open students’ minds. Teaching is not just to teach about a specific subject—it is a way to teach and learn about different cultures around the world.”

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

“You do not need to stay in superhero mode all the time. Be a teacher, and enjoy what you do!”

Thanks to dedicated ambassadors like Mayra, students are able to see themselves as citizens of the world and use their knowledge, skills, and empathy to be change-makers in their local communities. Stay tuned for another cultural story coming next week! For more information on how you can teach with Participate Learning too, check out this webpage.