News>Portuguese teacher brings culture to US classrooms
Carla Campos is a teacher at the Department of Defense Dependants School at Lajes Field. She's an Azorean native from the island of Faial and has been teaching Portuguese culture to U.S. students for two years. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory)
Carla Campos, a teacher at DoDDS Lajes Field hands out yogurt to her class during thier tour at a local cheese factory. Campos is an Azorean native who teaches Portuguese culture to U.S. students. (Courtesy Photo)
by Tech. Sgt. Chenzira Mallory
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
9/19/2012 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Students at the Department of Defense Dependants School (DoDDS) at Lajes Field learn about the local culture from a host nation teacher, an opportunity most youth in the United States don't get to experience.
Carla Campos, an Azorean native from the island of Faial, has been teaching Portuguese culture at DoDDS for two years.
"We are all diplomats from our respective countries. When people see you, they see a representative of the country you are from," said Campos. "I want to help (students) understand what Portugal is all about in a positive way."
For some students, this is their first experience being at an overseas school and they may feel a little apprehensive in a new learning environment.
"I show the students different things they can do on the island and how our [Portuguese] people can be fun too," said Campos. "There's no way they can grasp the whole culture in such little time, but my job is to help open minds."
On a different level, Campos and another teacher of Azorean heritage organize activities where the staff can interact with the local community.
"We've arranged trips to Angra, Sao Miguel, Praia and many more," said Campos. "The parents are also invited to attend. It's important to help foster relationships between the school and the communities."
Sue Spinks, a compensatory reading teacher for grades 1-3, says that Campos is an important member of the DoDDS team.
"The students get to learn that there's more to the world," said Spinks. "She shows them how to appreciate being overseas and in the Azores."
The U.S. students aren't the only ones to reap cultural awareness lessons from Campos.
"The high school students participate in an exchange program at the Portuguese schools," said Spinks. "This program is very well attended each year. Even the Portuguese teachers are excited to come to DoDDS for a day and experience our school system."
From study trips, where students visit museums, to observing how cows are milked, DoDDS community involvement surpasses what most students will get to experience at regular schools.
"An example of a project is the 'Maios' in May. Each year, we have the students create 'Maios' which are human sized dummies made of clothes," said Campos. "They get to learn all about the traditions of the 'Maios' and they get to display them during the school carnival. You can usually tell this holiday is coming because of the large piles of clothes in the classroom."
The field trips and creative crafts to celebrate the host nation holidays are just a few of the techniques Campos uses to highlight the Portuguese culture and strengthen the school's relationship with the community. She also brings a literal taste of culture to some of her students.
"For my middle and high school students, I make a traditional Portuguese breakfast," said Campos. "I'll have one of the students pretend they are a waiter or waitress and each student has to order their food in Portuguese."
Campos takes pride in being a teacher in a school with so many diverse backgrounds.
"I taught for 14 years at a private school in mainland Portugal and now that I'm part of the Lajes Team, I get to learn a lot as I compare both educational systems," said Campos. "Having this opportunity to teach the U.S. students about my culture is an evident sign of cultural consideration and I find this to be a highly enriching opportunity for me as an educator."