WIU Student Takes on an Adventure She Never Dreamed

WIU Student Takes on an Adventure She Never Dreamed

January 30, 2023

MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – – When Western Illinois University student Deanna Palm needed to find the right place to student teach, and while most of her classmates stayed local, Palm’s mind went to Spain.

“I just asked my professors if this was a possibility for me to travel out of the country to teach, and they immediately helped me begin exploring options,” said Palm.

Palm, an English Secondary Education major with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages ​​(ESL), was born in Staten Island, NY, but considers herself a Floridian because of her time in Sarasota. She currently lives in Illinois and attends Geneseo High School.

“I left home a cautious-shopping, picky-eating, unathletic student teacher, and I returned to WIU more bold and adventurous than I ever would have dreamed of,” said Palm.

With a small Spanish vocabulary and an eye for adventure, Palm took off on what would become the best decision she ever made.

“I have so many fond memories,” said Palm. “I had a great time learning to dance the bachata and stepping on every toe in the room. I ate weird tentacle-covered food. I explored antique stores for funny postcards. I devoured desserts at every pastry shop within a square kilometer. I found a new side of myself that was lying dormant, waiting for Spain to bring it out of me. Every day was an adventure.”

Palm often reflects on her abroad experience in Salamanca and just how different the teaching process was.

“The experience was nothing like student teaching in Illinois, but my class was so much fun,” said Palm. “Spanish grades work differently. I had 11-year-olds in my high school classes. I often used charades to act out unknown words, making the lessons fun and artistic. It was often difficult to translate every teaching lesson, but it did wonders for my Spanish speaking.”

Palm encourages WIU students interested in studying or teaching abroad to talk to their professors and seek advice for the next steps.

“I know every student will have a very different experience, but if you want doors to open, you have to ask,” said Palm. “All my teachers, like Carla Paciotto, Rebekah Buchanan and Lisa Litchfield, went above and beyond modeling excellent teaching and helping me discover my teaching style and love for English learners, and I am forever grateful.

Be adventurous—you won’t figure out who you truly are until you chip away at the barriers of who you think you are,” said Palm. “When I was in Spain, I didn’t just teach. I made lasting friendships. I found a church I love and secret gardens I grew attached to. It made it really hard to leave at the end. This is not a goodbye for me and Spain. It’s see you later!”

For more information on WIU’s study abroad programs, visit wiu.edu/sao. For more information on WIU’s School of Education, visit wiu.edu/coehs/education.

Posted By: Lexi Yoggerst ([email protected])
Office of University Communications & Marketing

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