At the beginning of this school year, Participate Learning welcomed hundreds of Ambassador Teachers to the U.S. from around the world. One of those teachers, Cecilia Camarero, shared her incredible journey of coming to the U.S. with her family from Argentina. A long delay spurred on by a global pandemic did not deter her from achieving her dream of teaching abroad.
Since August, Cecilia has been teaching world languages to middle school students in Wake County, North Carolina. We caught up with Cecilia to see how her transition has been, and her experiences in the U.S. so far.
How have your experiences compared so far to your expectations before arriving in the U.S.? Was anything unexpected or surprising?
I had to wait so long to come here, because I applied to the program in 2019, but I used that time to prepare as much as I could. That helped me a lot.
At first, you miss your extended family so much. You’re telling yourself, “Am I doing the right thing?” It might seem hard, but you get more comfortable as time goes by and you settle down. I just wanted my family to adapt. That was the hardest thing. It’s an experience for the entire family.
I thought the school would be my most difficult challenge, but I feel really comfortable there. The World Languages team has really helped me a lot, along with the principals and the school community. They really made me feel at home. The county also offers sessions, meetings, and learning materials. Participate Learning helps, too, so I feel very supported. After two months, I have settled down and feel really comfortable.
How has your family adapted to living in the U.S. so far?
My husband got his work permit two weeks ago and started working in the afternoons. In the mornings while I am at school, he takes care of our baby, Roma, who is eight months.
My son, Luca, is in elementary school and has little knowledge of English, but he’s succeeded in adapting. Each day I take him to his school first, and then I go to my school to teach. He is making friends (we all love Miguel from Honduras, who speaks Spanish and has helped him a lot) and he loves math. He told me, “Mom, numbers are a universal language!”
It makes me so happy to see him succeeding now that a few months have gone by. Starting a new life in a different country is really challenging, but it is worth the experience!
How has the United We Teach community helped you now that you are in the U.S.?
I’m still very active in the community. Most of the teachers I’ve met are from there. While I was waiting to travel, it was the place for me to connect with my dream [of coming to the U.S.]. I feel like I can count on my friends from that community whenever I need them. I feel that I am not alone in this. I have someone to call if anything should happen.
What was it like to meet other Ambassador Teachers in person after communicating virtually for so long?
I am at a loss for words! It was amazing. You share the same feelings, the same fears, the same anxieties. It feels like we have been friends for so long because we share the same experiences. I have met a lot of people in person that I have known through a computer screen.
Friends are now my family here. This experience is a “give and take.” Some friends just helped us move to a new house. Right now a teacher who just arrived from Argentina is staying with us until she finds her own apartment. The Argentinian group of teachers is so special and we are all connected to support each other in this adventure.
Have you had a chance to travel since you have arrived?
Yes! My family and I have driven to Washington, D.C., which is a wonderful city. We have also been to Wilmington, North Carolina, to visit some other Ambassador Teachers that I met through the program.
Has anything about the culture in the U.S. surprised you?
Everyone is so nice, welcoming, and willing to help. When we got here, people we didn’t even know had donated things for our new apartment. Other things that surprised me were the food, differences in times (in Argentina, I used to have dinner at 10 p.m.), and the fact that visits are planned weeks ahead. In Argentina, we would call a friend and say, “Put the kettle on the fire! I am on my way to your place to have mate [an Argentinian traditional drink] with you!”
Thank you for sharing your insights, Cecilia! To learn more about Participate Learning’s application process to teach in the U.S., visit our website.