Obies Using Languages: Clara Engen

Clara is a double degree student majoring in History and Violin who spent last winter term in Panama teaching music with the Oberlin Panama Project.

I spent my winter term 2014 with a group of Conservatory students teaching music with a youth orchestra camp in Panama. Using Spanish in Panama was completely different than in class because I was the one teaching. It was a little scary to stand up in front of a group of eager but rowdy kids, but I soon left my inhibitions about speaking in Spanish far behind me and began to absorb the vocabulary necessary for controlling a classroom and sharing my knowledge about the violin to my students. I think the most difficult part of the experience was actually not speaking, but understanding when other people spoke in the noisy and hectic environment of the music camp. The challenges of teaching in Spanish not only strengthened my language skills but helped me grow as a music educator, and I’m incredibly excited to return this January to continue making music in Panama.

Below is a Panamanian news article about the camp, including an interview with the Oberlin’s orchestra director Raphael Jimenez.
Read the article here.


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