Becoming international

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Alexandra Melendez

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Mr. Bradfield will be leaving Downey High to teach abroad in Costa Rica. He is only planning on staying in Costa Rica for a year and will continue teaching math as he is in Costa Rica.

Marilyn Ramirez, Copy Editor/Co-Editor-in-Chief

After spending over two years in Vanuatu for the Peace Core, math teacher, Mr. Eric Bradfield will be leaving Downey High next year for Costa Rica to teach students at Cloud Forest School in Monte Verde.

“[Vanuatu] was rad,” Bradfield said. “I don’t know how else to say it. It was such a huge experience in my life, living and working in another country, and I got to do it with my wife. It was like a tremendous growing and learning experience.”

Because his time spent in Vanuatu was positive and challenging for Bradfield, he and his wife decided to venture on another journey with their two children: Aria and Canon. Although originally hoping to work in South or Central America in a Spanish-speaking community, Bradfield decided to search for an international school in Costa Rica that was hiring a math teacher, apply for the position, and move there once the school hired him.

“While we were in Vanuatu, I noticed [independent and international] schools, and I thought, ‘I’m a math teacher. I’ve got great experience with five years of working in the states and Peace Core experience; who wouldn’t want to hire me?’ I talked to my wife, and she said, ‘Okay, that sounds good; that’s an easy plan.’ And that was it, as simple as that.”

The math teacher’s “easy plan” is exactly the way it happened. There was a setback, however, to the proposal: the finances he would need to be able to support his family while teaching abroad. The Peace Core covers living expenses for married couples, but not for their dependents.

“I was thinking, ‘Well, how can we do this again and be able to take our family?’” Bradfield said. “I would be making ten percent of what I make here, basically.”

In order to survive without the aid of the Peace Core, his home’s property management company will look after and rent it. His hope is that the rent will be higher than the mortgage, thus supplementing his income during his stay in the latin country. Fortunately, the school that hired him works with the community and found a furnished home for Bradfield’s family to reside.

One aspect of his decision Bradfield will not have to worry too much about is his Spanish-speaking skills. The school will consist mostly of Costa Rican students who are bilingual while the classes will be taught in English. The teacher, however, has picked up much of the language over the years by simply living in southern California, keeping track of or practicing new words, and with the help of his neighbors and colleagues — so he had no trouble demonstrating.

“I can speak Spanish, things like, Habla espanol, y este verano mi familia y yo vamos a vivir en Costa Rica,” Bradfield said. “Vamos a vivir en las montañas en la ciudad Monte Verde. I’m not awesome at it, but I hope to come back awesome. There are so many things written in Spanish that I take the time to read and understand them so that way I learn.”

In comparison to Vanuatu, Bradfield hopes to have an interactive, hands-on learning classroom experience by living by the school’s motto, “Learning from the Ground Up.” The math teacher is excited for the projects and activities that he will get to experience outside of his Downey home.