Johanna Craig ('10) and her first grade class.

“All my students are Dominican, but I teach in English. Most of my students were in a bilingual classroom for pre-K and kindergarten, but I have one who has not. He has not been in a school before, so this year is a big challenge for the both of us. One of the most exciting times that I have had with him, so far, was when I heard him count (in English!) to 10. I knew that he had simply picked it up from being in class and being around the other students. It seems like a small accomplishment, but for him it was a huge step in his language development.

I know that I would not be here in Jarabacoa if it were not for Bethel. I came to Jarabacoa as a sophomore through the study abroad program. At the time I had a strong interest in teaching overseas and my time here sealed the deal. I took Spanish classes, worked at a preschool and lived with a host family. I never thought I would actually return to Jarabacoa to teach, but here I am! Adjusting to living in a different culture and being a first-year teacher is a big challenge, so it is a huge blessing to have already lived here.  I believe it is so important to try to understand a student’s culture when working with him or her. I know that the experiences I had here as a sophomore help me understand my students and their families on a daily basis.

At Bethel, I was in an environment that encouraged me to follow my dreams. Aside from time in Jarabacoa, many people and experiences at Bethel encouraged me to come here. My friends were strongly supportive of me in my decision-making process, and today support me through prayer and finances. I know that these relationships are irreplaceable and will last a lifetime. My education professors, like Susan Karrer and Nancy Ryan, also encouraged me to teach overseas through their own passion for cross-cultural teaching.”

Johanna Craig (’10)