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 ambassador teachers to learn more about them and the impact they have in their classrooms; Silvia Martin del Campo Vargas is a fifth-year ambassador teacher originally from Mexico City, Mexico. Currently, she is teaching in a second-grade, dual language classroom at Eastfield Global Magnet School in Marion, North Carolina. Read on to learn more about Silvia.
When did you start learning a second language, and what kept you motivated to learn?
I started learning English in kindergarten. I was motivated to continue learning English when my dad’s job relocated us to Hartsville, South Carolina, for a year. I was in second grade at the time, and it took a few weeks after the move for me to learn enough to be able to communicate with my teacher and classmates.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about your home country?
Mexico’s culture is colorful and rich. It has 34 of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
What’s the most interesting place you have traveled to?
Sweden—I lived in Sweden for a year and my experience was unique and significant. During my time there, I found my true vocation: teaching.
What’s your favorite holiday in your country, and how do you celebrate it?
On November 2nd, we celebrate Dia de Muertos. My family sets up an ofrenda to honor all the family members that have passed away. We visit some museums that have massive ofrendas on display. My family gets together and shares anecdotes of family members that have passed away so that we can remember all of the great memories we shared.
What are some ways you teach students in your class about your culture?
I teach social studies units in my class by tying the curriculum to project-based learning. The students are able to learn more about their own cultures and heritages, as well as other countries. I also use reading and literacy as an opportunity for students to explore my country and the rest of the world.
How will you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in your community?
I will be organizing a three-week-long Dia de Muertos festival in downtown Marion. A Mexican photographer has donated some of his work to show the public photographs that capture traditional Mexican celebrations of the holiday. There will also be an ofrenda contest and alebrije contest that will be open to the public for participation.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I love watching kids learn and develop new thinking processes. I feel that by working with kids, I am contributing to a better future.
How has being a cultural exchange ambassador changed the way you teach?
It has given me the opportunity to be more reflective of my teaching processes by meeting the individual needs of each child and finding new ways to help them learn.
Why do you think global education is important in today’s society?
The more we know and learn from each other, the more we will be able to understand the thoughts, backgrounds, and cultures of people in different countries. This helps us to be more empathetic and learn to see the world from different perspectives before judging. I believe that all humans deserve to find peace, love, and happiness.
If you had one piece of advice for a new teacher, what would it be?
Be proud of your heritage and country; share it passionately with your students in every opportunity you have. When students learn to appreciate all the amazing things different countries have to offer, they are more likely to want to explore and leave a positive impact on the places they travel. Remember, you are the key to opening the world for them.
At Participate Learning, we believe our ambassador teachers, like Silvia, provide life-changing educational opportunities for their students by expanding their perspectives and developing them into empathetic and curious global leaders. For more information on how you can incorporate Silvia’s teaching practices in your classroom, check out our project-based learning guide, or read this blog post to discover three ways to become a more culturally responsive teacher.