The purpose of Darwing’s visit was to observe the approaches and techniques currently used in all levels of formal education in the United States.
June 25, 2019
This spring semester, the Center for Latin American Studies hosted Visiting Scholar Darwing Azael Pérez Santiago. Darwing is a professor at the Normal School for Middle School Teachers at the Instituto Campechano, in the beautiful colonial city of Campeche, Southeast Mexico. In his position, he trains future English as a Foreign Language teachers and oversees the delivery of courses in general linguistics, semantics, teaching methodology as well as courses to improve students' English skills.
The purpose of Darwing’s visit was to observe the approaches and techniques currently used in all levels of formal education in the United States. He also created connections with in-service and pre-service teachers in our schools in order to connect classrooms and teachers between the United States and Mexico.
At the start of his visit, Darwing attended a seminar lecture on Rural Education led by Dr. Maria Coady from the UF College of Education (COE). Darwing participated in the lecture activities and discussions, had the opportunity to ask questions, and learned about some of the difficulties and challenges teachers face in different educational settings. Darwing and Dr. Coady also discussed project STELLAR and its ongoing initiatives that seek to positively impact the academic results of English language learners (ELL) in Florida’s schools.
Darwing later met with Dr. Mark Pacheco, where he expressed interested in Dr. Pacheco’s research on translation as a means to drive concept development for ELL. The two discussed areas of interest and the similarities between English as a Second a Language (ESL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Darwing also attended a research project presentation on ESL students’ perception of collaboration before engaging in project-based learning tasks.
Darwing Pérez with Maria Eugenia Zelaya.
As part of his work, Darwing also visited Gainesville public schools. On April 12, he was welcomed at Eastside High School by Maria Eugenia Zelaya (a MALAS alumna). At Eastside, Darwing met Ms. Zelaya´s Spanish students who asked questions about the education system in Mexico, Mexican culture and asked for advice on learning a second/foreign language. Darwing was also asked to participate and aid the teacher in group work and exchanged views with Ms. Zelaya on the use of tracking (having students on different programs) and what they thought could be done in order to improve education worldwide. Similarly, he visited Hawthorne middle school where he worked with Spanish teacher Carolina Currea. Mrs. Currea gave Darwing a tour of the school and answered questions on the administration of the school and the strategies and visual aids used in foreign language classrooms.
On April 16, Darwing had the chance to sit in on a class of first graders. The students were very enthusiastic to have a foreign visitor and asked interesting and entertaining questions about Mexico. In this class, Darwing saw the implementation of workstations as well as differentiation and personalized instructions conducted by Ms. Parham and Ms. Deeb (COE undergraduate intern). He also interviewed educators on how students with special needs are integrated into mainstream classrooms.
Left to right: Dr. Mary Risner (LAS Associate Director), Darwing Pérez and Andrew Gallup (MALAS student).
Near the end of Darwing’s visit, Dr. Busey (COE) invited him to attend a research presentation by a Ph.D. student titled “Inequitable consequences for (mis)behaving while black”. Darwing participated in the activities and discussed topics in education related to Critical Race Theory. He later met with Dr. Busey to talk about current issues in Latin-America pertaining to education and educational policies.
For his last week in Florida, Darwing traveled to Volusia County, the Sister City of Campeche, where he attended lessons in Spanish and Academic English at Daytona State College. He briefly met with the professors and also attended lectures on Mayan Culture and Spanish given by Dr. Robert Sitler at Stetson University.
We wish Darwing all the success on his upcoming academic activities and we look forward to having him as a visitor again in the near future.