Hi, I’m Ari.

Hi, I’m Ari and I’m about to graduate college! WOO! But, before I do, I get to take part in an awesome opportunity…

I leave tomorrow to teach in Ecuador!

This is through the Global Gateway for Teachers Program at Indiana University – Bloomington. Normally, the program is done over a course of two years, but because of attending a different campus, I ended up being a little late to the ball game so I crammed it into one year. Needless to say, it’s been a HARD year – but I wouldn’t have traded a single day of it!! (Except for the days I had shingles…but that’s a different story.) 

Anyways, since this is my first post, I wanted to give you a little insight to what makes me, me!

I’m originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana; moved to Michigan for high school; graduated; and came back to Fort Wayne to attend Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). I am a Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholarship recipient which is why I originally decided to go to IPFW, but I quickly realized this school had A LOT more to offer. In the fall of 2013, I started college as a biology major with the intention to become a chiropractor. Fast forward a year, and even though I made a lot of friends and loved living in Fort Wayne, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life anymore. I was teaching dance at the time (I highly recommend Fort Wayne School of Dance if you’re looking for a studio in the area!) and it was my favorite part of the week. After talking to my closest friends and family, I decided to have a conversation with the College of Education and Public Policy.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I switched my major to Elementary Education with a Science Concentration and IMMEDIATELY loved it! Since then, I haven’t looked back and have found so much more meaning in literally everything I do. However, if I could go back (not that I want to, but just saying) I would have dual licensed in English as a New Language. I didn’t realize how much of a need there is everywhere for English language teachers. During a semester of interning at a highly Burmese and Hispanic school, I felt the need to explore this side of education more which is what led me to my Honors Project. Many hours/days/months of researching and reading about foreign languages, second languages, heritage languages, prestigious languages, stigmatized languages (if you don’t know what these mean, neither did I until about a year ago) and all sorts of factors that affect the language learning process were compiled into a final paper and presentation titled “Possible Differentiated Effects of Language Attitudes on the Foreign and Second Language Learning Processes”. The paper focused on the differences of language learning specifically in the United States and Ecuador, since I had already decided I was going to finish my student teaching in Quito, Ecuador.

My research definitely helped prepare me to teach overseas but MANY more people/programs deserve a thank you as well: the IPFW Honors Program for granting me a scholarship to study abroad as well as push me to my full potential academically these past 4 years; the IPFW Office of International Education for granting me scholarship, specifically Meg Underwood for helping me figure out the logistics on the IPFW side of studying abroad; the IPFW College of Education, especially the professors who created high expectations and challenged me on a daily basis to make me into a better teacher (self-fulfilling prophecy? #nailedit); Jim Beard, my advisor, for working with me through endless appointments; Talia Bugel, my mentor, for all of her advice, knowledge and help through my Honors Project; Julia Smith, my external-reviewer, for explaining her work with English language learners as well as playing a large role in my Honors Project; Martha Coussement, my liaison, for her commitment to my Honors Project; the Fort Wayne Cheerleading team for understanding that my education came first but for always being there as some of my best friends; Julie Lebamoff, my coach, for teaching me that you have control of your day, a positive mind leads to a positive life and for constantly encouraging me on and off the court (or mat); all my friends I met in Michigan and Indiana – especially Sair, B.Mary, Jenj, Kier and Drake – for providing me with brain breaks whenever the time called; my family, both near and far, for believing in me; Carrie, my stepmom, for taking me in, helping me when I needed it most and treating me like her own; Rebecca, my mom, for reminding to me to pray, eat and sleep, for never giving up on me, encouraging me to have crazy dreams and pushing me to follow them; and finally, my sisters – Jordan, Madison, Grace, Brooke, Emma, Jenna and Lila – my forever favorite job will be being your oldest sister and role model.

Everyone who comes into your life teaches you something and I know I wouldn’t be who I am today, if it wasn’t for everyone I’ve met the past 22 years. I feel blessed to have found my passion in teaching, but am even more excited that I can explore the world and it’s cultures while pursuing my passion – it’s the best of both worlds!

Alright, it’s time to finish packing… T-16 hours until my flight takes off!




5 thoughts on “Hi, I’m Ari.

  1. This is so beautifully written, Ari. I am so proud of you; I already know you are going to impact the lives of those kids in Ecuador, both through your fun, loving personality but also through the plan that God has for you. Can’t wait to read more of these posts while you’re away!

    Liked by 1 person

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