February 9, 1996
Conrad C. Heede, PDG
2405 Summit View Drive
Bedford, Texas 76021 U.S.A.
Re: Rotary InterCountry Teacher Exchange Program
I've been here for four weeks already. What a wonderful experience! Paul Lenker, President of the Abilene Rotary Club and Executive Director Myra Rainey fixed a schedule for me. It was a busy schedule, but that is what I wanted to do. It met all my expectations and it was according to my professional and personal aims.
I visited many schools in the morning and in the afternoon. I got up early (about 6:30) and my "part time driver" came for me at 7:30. The schools I visited were primary, middle and high schools. I also visited some kindergartens and a day nursery. I taught Spanish classes at Hardin-Simmons University, showed a film and gave a speech at McMurry University and I met a professor and writer at Abilene Christian University, I had a chat with him. We talked about American Literature and also about a famous Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, who passed away in 1986 and whom I knew. Mr. Welch, the professor, invited me to write about my experience in Abilene for the magazine "The Mesquite" which is edited by the University.
When I said "visited schools" it doesn't mean just a tour around the school. I went to the Spanish classes, some geography, history and art classes and I taught, talked with the students, and teachers. I recorded some of the dialogues and also took pictures (I am doing an album with pictures of every place I visited during the four weeks I stayed in Abilene).
Wherever I went I always met friendly people here, in Abilene. I also attended the PTA meeting (Parents-Teachers Association) and some mothers greeted me and said their children were happy and excited of having an "Argentine teacher" in their classes. Many times during the day I heard this sentence "thank you for coming here", "thank you for visiting our school", and questions, the students asked a lot of questions about the program (why I came here), my country, my language, my people, they were eager to know. . . and I was so pleased to answer their questions!
I gave two Spanish seminars to police officers at the Police Officers Training Center and I taught Spanish classes to telephone operators once a week.
I spent special moments with Rotarians of Abilene. I always had my "part time driver" waiting for me at the door in the morning or afternoon or evening. My hostess, Corine Bonnet, said a joke about this: "Since Marta is here there is always someone at the door and the telephone rings several times a day".
The Rotarians invited me to dinner and to their homes. They were friendly and excellent hosts. I learned about American history and culture from them. They invited me to tour DAFB (Dyess Air Force Base). I will transmit all these experiences to my colleagues and students when I go back to my country.
I learned to square dance. The teacher not only taught me but he also recorded the music and the instructions for the dance and I will teach it to my students.
I am leaving tomorrow. It seams as if my dream comes to an end. I don't want this to happen, so I said to myself. "This is not the end but it is the beginning, the beginning of a close relationship between our Rotary Districts, our countries and among students who will have the opportunity to exchange letters, practice English and Spanish, learn about the geography and the history of the U.S.A. and Argentina.
I want to thank God and I want to thank you for this opportunity. It was not only an opportunity for me, but also for the other people who will be coming. Maybe this is your seed, the seed that Rotarians planted and the world will be better because of this. So, I won't say "good-bye", I am going to say "hasta luego!"
Marta S. Rabellino
An Argentine teacher