My name is Ina, and I’m an ESL teacher from Minneapolis, MN. I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, and I taught ESL at Thomas Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis for two years. I’m currently living in Carmen Pampa, Bolivia, a small town about three hours from La Paz. Here in Bolivia, I am teaching English classes for students at the Unidad Académica Campesina – Carmen Pampa, a university whose mission is to “provide higher education to the poor and marginalized; prepare young men and women who are called by Christian principle to serve the poor; guide young adults in their search for truth through education, research, and community service; and integrate the College’s work throughout Bolivia’s rural area.” I am so happy to be here, living, learning, and working in a wonderful community of dedicated staff members, inspiring students, and diverse international volunteers.
In this blog, I hope to share some of my experiences living and traveling in Bolivia, which is an incredibly beautiful country with an immensely varied cultural and geographic landscape. I also plan to share my experiences in the classroom, in order to stay connected with my professional community in the U.S. and to have a way to share teaching ideas, questions, and resources with a larger audience.
The name of the blog, “This the Road,” is from a Henry Patchen quote that I first heard at a writing workshop led by Karen Hering, literary minister at Unity Unitarian Church, in the Twin Cities. The theme of the workshop was hospitality, which is certainly also a theme of my time here in Bolivia. Hospitality is always an important part of any travel experience; being out of one’s element and learning to live in a new culture and community makes daily acts of hospitality especially apparent, and appreciated. I often think about the importance of hospitality in the classroom, as well; in The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer writes eloquently about the importance of creating a space where students feel welcome, safe, and able to be who they are.
“This the Road” also resonates with me in another sense, related to travel and to life as a whole – the sense of finding the road and the way as I go. Now in my third year of teaching, in a new community on a different continent, I find myself reflecting often on the ways that we “make the road by walking,” through all of the experiences that we encounter along the way. As Pema Chodron writes,
Everything that occurs is not only usable and workable but is actually the path itself.
As I find my identity as a teacher, and as I continue to learn about myself and the life I want to lead, those words help to guide me. Thank you for taking the time to visit this site – I would love to hear from you by e-mail or in the comments.