Inspired By Diversity
Since childhood, Perla Gutierrez has longed for more and more diversity in her life. Growing up in El Paso, TX where she attended a unique international school, Perla reflects on how this experience inspired her even today.
“From Kindergarten to 6th grade, I attended an international school where I was placed in what we called the Russian group. There were groups for Germany, Italy, and so on too. Here, I had the opportunity to broaden my horizons by exploring Russian culture, learning the language, and participating in that country’s activities during the school day. It was an amazing experience.”
After her family relocated to Omaha, NE Perla chose to earn her bachelor’s degree. She eventually met her now husband who was stationed in Hawaii. Upon graduation, she moved to Hawaii, but Perla soon realized that her job wasn’t fulfilling her diversity dream. She updated her LinkedIn and soon was flooded with job opportunities that excited her.
“After updating my account, I began to receive notifications from China as they wanted me to come to teach English as a second language to them. I thought it had to be a scam. English is not even my first language as my native language is Spanish. But I took a chance and moved to Beijing, China to teach ESL to preschool and kindergarten students. I thought to myself that since I have had the opportunity to learn English, that I could help teach them to do so too.”
There Perla was knee-deep in cultural differences and she loved every minute of it. From sightseeing the Great Wall to learning Mandarin, Perla touches on her favorite parts of living in China for a year and a half.
“My favorite part was the vibrant culture of China. I taught about 30 students from 8 am to 5 pm every day, so I became familiar with the way they liked to do things. I also learned a little bit of Mandarin so that I could further interact with the students. But it was their respect for teachers and the way the parents inspired their children that led me to find my passion for teaching.”
China allowed Perla to gain her confidence and figure out that teaching was for her. So, she dove into the diverse world of teaching. As a certified national geographic teacher, Perla incorporates the world around her into her lesson plans within the classroom. Today, Perla is a Pre-K paraprofessional at Gateway Elementary in Omaha, NE. A piece of China will always be with her as she continues to tutor ESL to students from China once a week all while earning her TCL license from Midland University.
Perla Gutierrez is a current Teacher Career Ladder student from El Paso, TX. To share your story or nominate a friend, email firstname.lastname@example.org.