Written By: Michelle Ramos-Aragon
Argentinian exchange student, Lucas Rubio, shows the internationality of the IB Diploma as he came here to Port Chester High School to fulfill his goals. As a senior IB Diploma candidate, his CAS project, which would allow him to garner more experience in teaching English internationally, shows the opportunities this program provides students.
CAS, “Creativity, Action, and Service,” is a project IB Diploma candidates must complete in order to qualify for the diploma. For his CAS project, Lucas decided to follow his passion of teaching English and took it to the next step, by going outside of his country to become a teacher’s assistant here at PCHS. The Port Light had the privilege of asking more about how this process went and his thoughts about the program during his time here.
Why did you choose to come to Port Chester?
I knew I wanted to become an English teacher, so I decided to start gaining experience from a young age. In 2021, I opened a new position at Saint Patrick’s School (Colegio San Patricio), an Ad Honorem internship as an English Second Language Teacher’s Assistant at my school. Despite the challenges of teaching younger students (5th-7th grade) who were beginners in English, the experience only strengthened my convictions that this is what I wanted to do in the future.
In 2022, I challenged myself further by teaching an Advanced English Class to students who were around my age and after 3 months decided that I wanted to see how it would be like teaching internationally. I had several meetings with my school principal, my school’s IB Coordinator, and a few of my English teachers in order to do my project. I traveled to the US in September 2022, searching for a high school that covered the IBDP (IB Diploma Program), and eventually found PCHS. In October, I returned home and informed my school’s administration and English Department that this was the school I wished to get in touch with.
After Mr. Laconi finally received our messages about the project, we both became very excited to work together as well as help make the IB a program that was actually international for its students. We looked over the school district policy for volunteering, completed forms, attended meetings with Mr. Sotherden and by December 17th, with my project being approved by the Board of Education, I flew to NY in order to begin my work at PCHS January 3rd.
What are you doing here in PCHS and what are your goals in coming here?
Throughout January and February, I will be interning and participating in two roles at the school. I will be a Teacher’s Assistant and be working with three phenomenal English teachers (Mr. Laconi, Mrs. Marziani, and Ms. Osmani), assisting them in 5 different classes with 10th-12th graders. I will also be an Administrative Assistant, working with Mr. Laconi, concerning activities related to the coordination of the IBDP.
Cultural exchange may be considered the number one goal; the students and teachers I work with as well as myself have the opportunity of learning each other’s cultures and how the education system works in both countries. From a personal and professional point of view, I can say that this experience in PCHS will help me in an immeasurable way since everyday I get to learn from the students from my classes as well as from world-class teachers that help me improve my teaching techniques.
What has this experience been like? How is the classroom setting different compared to where you’re from?
The differences between the Argentine and the American Education Systems have been presented as a challenge to me; many things are unalike in the way they work here from what I am used to: from the structure of schedules or the layouts of the classrooms to testing, grading and even the teacher-student relation. The fast and easy adaptation process I am going through could not have been possible without the professional feedback, advice and instruction given to me by the loving and caring teachers I work with as well as the ease with which the students allow me to develop myself in the classroom everyday, making me feel a part of PCHS since the day I arrived. Despite only being here for about two weeks, the warmth I receive everyday when I enter the school fizzles out the nervousness I feel in this new setting.
What was it like to lead a class the other day?
Even though I had the opportunity to lead many classes in the past, I was sure that doing it in New York would be utterly different. For my first week, I agreed to be an observer to see how classes work at PCHS. As days went by, my co-teachers and I considered it was time to start leading a few classes, therefore I decided to start teaching formal essay writing, a subject I am highly passionate about, to my classes. I prepared the necessary materials and spoke to the IB English A: Language and Literature (Higher Level) students on what the Higher-Level essay was and the steps to take in order to write a successful one.
What are you interested in for the future? What about college?
By the end of February, I will be returning to my hometown to finish my senior year and hope to have a major related to English/Language Arts Educations in order to become a high school English teacher when I am older. Once I finish high school in Argentina, I am aiming to study at an American University in order to continue the international education that I enjoy. After undergraduate and graduate school, I truly hope to be able to become an English high school teacher in New York.
What is your advice for other IB candidates?
I am, as surely every IB student is, struggling with all the deadlines to the assignments we are asked to turn in, and even though it is a time-consuming program and sometimes it will seem even impossible to balance your academic life with your social one, trust me, you can do it. What you feel every time you submit an assignment and actually are one step closer to getting your academically-demanding diploma, be sure that no one will be able to take that away from you. The IB is not just about scores and the credits it may give you for college (which actually come in handy) but the sense of self-realization when you realize you did all of that. So, if you attend a school like PCHS which allows you to take the IB Diploma, then do it! It is for sure that you will not regret doing it.
After sitting down with Lucas, it is amazing to see someone so young be able to accomplish so much through the IBDP, and I hope that this opportunity and experience that Lucas is experiencing will help him on his journey to accomplish his goal of becoming an English Teacher!