Buffalo State welcomes guests from Chile

Patrick Koster, Associate News Editor

Last Thursday, SUNY Buffalo State welcomed seven guests from Chile to host a presentation about the education system in their country.

The presentation, which was held in Bacon Hall 115, included speakers Professor Javiera Palma and her students, of Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile. Palma and her students were finishing their three week visit to Buffalo State.

“It’s a great experience for them to see the PDS (Professional Development Schools) and to see the schools, and how schools work here, and to be able to observe in a classroom what is happening and how classrooms develop here,” Palma said about her students. “It’s also a great experience for them because it’s very far away from Chile and it’s a different culture. And so, everything is new to them from the weather, to the food, to entertainment and everything else.”

In the presentation, Palma and her students described the education programs that are available in Chile, including early childhood education, higher education, and some of the education reform proposals that were created in 2014.

Dr. Pixita del Prado Hill, associate professor in elementary education and reading at Buffalo State, is also co-leader of the International Professional Development Schools (IPDS) Chile Program.

“It’s a professional experience, so that they are participating in classes to learn more about pedagogy,” del Prado Hill said about the guests. “They participated in campus events, some of our education clubs, and then they have been working in our partner schools.”

This was third time Chilean students have visited Buffalo State, with the first exchange beginning in 2012.

Buffalo State students also have the opportunity to travel to Chile with the IPDS Chile Program. For the fourth time since 2012, a group of Buffalo State students will be going to Chile on May 23 and return after spending three weeks there.

Dr. Angela Patti is an associate professor in exceptional education at Buffalo State. Along with del Prado Hill, she is co-leader of the IPDS Chile Program.

Patti said that the trips to Chile focus on education, although students pursuing other majors are welcome. She said that for education majors, spending an entire semester studying abroad would make it difficult for students to graduate on time.

“What we’ve done within the School of Education is created specific programs for education majors so that they are just three weeks long,” Patti said. “These programs allow them to kind of get a short-term, faculty-led experience for about three weeks.”

The trips to Chile are usually done during the winter or summer sessions for this reason. Patti said that the trip is mostly for design for education students.

“We have one [student] from criminal justice that’s coming along, and that’s fine. It’s just designed for education in a sense that they are going to go into the public schools, they’re going to work with children, we’re going to talk a lot about how our education system compares to their education system,” Patti said. “So a lot of the focus is around education even though others would probably be able to benefit from the experience as well.”

”And you actually don’t have to speak any Spanish to go, because we support the language development at wherever the student is,” del Prado Hill added.

Del Prado Hill said that they partner with a Spanish language school to help students increase their fluency and understanding of the language.

“It’s the experience of exploring language learning, because the public schools in the United States are changing so dramatically with so many English learners,” del Prado Hill said. “So, the chance to really explore what it feels like to be a language learner is really valuable as a teacher.”

Palma said that for some of her students, it was their first time travelling out of Chile. For one student, it was her first time travelling by plane.

“It’s also a great opportunity for them to practice the language,” Palma said. “We’re grateful for this opportunity and we’re really expecting the group that goes to Chile, [the hosts in Chile] to give them the amazing treatment that we have received here.”

Patti said there are also other opportunities for students to study abroad, including trips to Zambia, Italy, China, Dominican Republic, and Germany.

In the near future, the IPDS will be hosting students from Germany, as well as taking Buffalo State students to Germany.


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