Interview s Madison

26.03.2024 17:35
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Autor : Zuzana Kováčová, Gymnázium Ivana Kupca, Komenského, Hlohovec

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I'm delighted to inform you, dear readers, that we will be conducting an interview with Madison Pickering, an esteemed member of our teaching staff. Madison's dedication and expertise have greatly enriched our educational environment, and her departure will undoubtedly leave a void in our community. We have cherished our time together and are grateful for the positive impact she has had on both colleagues and students alike. As Madison transitions to new horizons, we extend our sincerest wishes for continued success and fulfillment in all her future endeavors.

What motivated you to visit Slovakia?

- As most of the school has already heard, I didn't even know Slovakia existed before I applied to come here. While researching the country, I was intrigued by the beautiful landscape, traditional foods, and theatre history. I was pretty nervous to come here, since I had also heard that Slovak people are very direct and hard to get to know. Luckily, I have met the kindest people while being here!

What were your initial impressions of the school when you first arrived?

- My first thoughts were that the school was very beautiful. Before arriving, I kind of expected it to be smaller and scarier than it really was. At first, I couldn't keep track of any of my classes or students, but it got easier as the weeks went by. One if my favorite things about the school was seeing students from different classes interact. I didn't get to see that while teaching, so it was always sweet to see how much you care for each other as a student body.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of teaching in Slovakia?

- Definitely getting to know my students better throughout my time here. I love learning about everyone's interests and hobbies or what plans you have outside of school. It's been especially rewarding to work in classes where I feel students opening up more over time.

• How has your school experience in Slovakia differed from one in the United States?

- The biggest difference between school in Slovakia and the U.S. is how much freedom you have! We had more choice when it came to choosing classes or school lunches, but that's about it. It amazes me that so many classes leave so early in the day. In the U.S., everyone is there from 8am-3pm every day. Another big difference is the lack of after-school activities. Most students in U.S. high schools are involved in either a school sport, play an instrument, are in drama club, or are involved in some sort of club. I was surprised to learn many of you play instruments or dance or play sports because it all comes from schools in the U.S. and there's hardly any of that here!

• Can you share any memorable moments or experiences from your time here?

- I've told this story in classes before, but my favorite memory from Slovakia happened back in Novemeber while I was traveling for Thanksgiving. All of the Fulbright teachers from around the country met up in Vyšná Boca to celebrate "Friendsgiving," and I rented a car with 4 other people to get there. On the way back to Hlohovec, we passed a shepard on the side of the highway. One of the people in the car with me, Orlando, was a photographer. He saw something beautiful in that moment that he wanted to capture, so he pulled the car around and went back to talk to the man. Myself, Orlando, and Orlando's fiancé named Dylan, all walked on the side of the highway toward the sheep. Dylan speaks Slovak, so she was able to translate for us. We asked the shepard if we could take pictures of him, and he posed with his guard dog. He told us all about his life as we listened to the bells around the sheep creating a wave of chimes. It was a very unexpected and beautiful moment that I won't forget. I was very happy to meet Miroslav the Shepard!

• What challenges did you face while teaching in a different cultural context, and how did you overcome them?

- I was never quite sure what things were cultural differences versus regular teaching situations. This was the only time I've formally taught, so I was learning how to manage a classroom, create lesson plans, and actually help students, on top of learning all of the cultural differences. While I'm not sure I ever fully overcame this challenge, I found the best solution to be asking students questions about the country and their lives. Sometimes I felt very silly asking pointless questions, but I was always glad I asked, in the end.

• Do you think your time teaching in Slovakia will impact your future career or personal growth? If yes than how?

- When it comes to personal growth, I know my entire life has changed because of my time here. Nothing really prepares you for living abroad. This was also my very first time out of the United States, so I had no idea what life would be like over here. I'm constantly surprised by how similar we all are to each other. As for my career, I feel much more confident in myself and know I can do anything I set my mind to - even teaching. I will say, though, being away from my normal career in theatre made me realize how much I thrive in a creative setting. It made me appreciate theatre more.

• Would you recommend coming to Slovakia to other people?

- Yes! Many people in the U.S. don't know much about Slovakia, and I would love to recommend places for them to visit. I'd also like to come back and bring some family and friends so I could be the expert.

What aspects of Slovakian culture or education system have you found most interesting or surprising?

- I find all of your traditions very interesting. Specifically, it's so funny to me that baby Jesus delivers your Christmas presents! How does he do that? He's a baby!

• As you prepare to leave, what will you miss most about teaching and living in Slovakia?

- I will miss all of my students, especially the ones I got to talk to more and bond with over the year. Every time I see your BeReals or posts or we share a joke together, it just warms my heart so much. The city of Hlohovec will be a fond memory for me forever (especially Valéria Coffee and Tea, my favorite!!!)