Spanish Assistant Shares Her Love of Travel, Culture, and Language with St. Paul’s Students

Spanish Assistant Shares Her Love of Travel, Culture, and Language with St. Paul’s Students

At St. Paul’s, we’re always thrilled when we have guests from around the world to share their knowledge and life experiences with our students. It’s a wonderful way for students to explore different cultures and learn about new perspectives. This year, we are lucky enough to welcome Rebeca Pazos Bethencourt as our Spanish assistant.

Rebeca comes to St. Paul’s from Las Palmas, Spain in the Canary Islands which she describes as a melting pot of cultures. Before traveling to Kansas City, she lived in London for a college internship, and she’s participating in this program at St. Paul’s to further her education and experience in an English-speaking country. After spending a few months working with our students, it’s clear Rebeca is eager to share her love of language and culture. Read below to learn more about Rebeca’s world travels, teaching, and experience so far in KC!


What do you like about working with the students at St. Paul’s? 

I'm SO in love with their eagerness to keep on learning. Over the course of my time at St Paul's, I've noticed a growing interest in Spanish on the students' side. Outside of the Spanish classroom, whenever we cross ways and they speak to me in Spanish, I celebrate it for two reasons mainly: first, because they are the ones taking the initiative in having a conversation in a foreign language; and second, because they are craving exposure to Spanish which is essential to proper language acquisition! For us as teachers, that helps us to never stop forging ahead! 


Are there any projects/lessons in particular that you have enjoyed teaching? 

I do appreciate the warm reception of St Paul's teachers to interdepartmental cooperation: for instance, since Mr. Stewart was covering vulcanism at the time a volcano erupted in the island of La Palma, we took this opportunity to expose 8th graders to The Canaries as well as to vulcanism! 

Out of the projects we have done so far, the one I have enjoyed the most it has been 'el ataúd' for The Day of the Dead which, by the way, they celebrate in a completely different way in Spain! Language goes hand in hand with culture -tradition, food, music, literature and audiovisual, etc.- and projects like this help create a more enriching language learning process. 


What have you enjoyed about living in Kansas City so far?

I'm head over heels for BBQ and baked beans! I'd love to check on every BBQ place in KC to see which offers the best in the city! Also, I have been impressed by the 'mushrooming' number of good breweries this city has to offer! 

But leaving food aside, I would like to highlight the welcoming nature of Kansas Citians (Mid-west nicers, right?) and the shifting mindset regarding transportation: the investment in building bike lanes and the development of the Streetcar which I believe will help shape a more sustainable and cohesive society. 


Rebeca helps a 4th grade student with a project in the St. Paul's Spanish classroom.

What do you plan to do next in your career?

One of the positive aspects this global pandemic has dawned upon me is teaching. Before we all got so used to wearing face masks, I was developing a professional career in the production film scene but when Covid-19 manifested itself, I felt as if I were one of those violin players on the sinking Titanic. This career has been like a revelation to me and, at least for now, I am planning to keep on forging my way in this field. 


As a world traveler, is there a city or country that’s become your favorite place to visit? Why is it your favorite?

Turkey stole my heart when I first landed on the Anatolian Peninsula. History, people, culture, food, scenery... One of the best 'side effects' of traveling is the act of realizing how many prejudices you have accidentally/unconsciously built upon, and the growth in empathy with other cultures since you get to know their immediate environments. The concept of otherness is a social construct and when you learn that you can also be 'the other' to other people, the concept of otherness vanishes. Learning foreign languages has definitely helped me broaden my world-view!