Spanish teacher advocates studies abroad after trip to South America

Jordyn Miller, Associate Editor

One of the best parts about new teachers is finding out all the interesting facts and quirks about them: where are they from, what have they done, what would they do if they weren’t teaching, and what do they bring to the classroom besides just the usual curriculum? As far as interesting experiences go, students should look no farther than new Spanish teacher Dani Bush.
“My senior year [of college], I decided that I wanted to teach Spanish,” Bush said. “It’s my background. When I studied abroad, I fell in love with the culture and language, and I wanted to share that with students.”
Bush, a native of New Jersey, was a junior at Milligan College in Tennessee when she spent five months studying abroad in Costa Rica.
“I would do it again is a second,” Bush said. “It was a little hard at first. I didn’t speak the language in the beginning, and my host family didn’t speak English. Figuring out the bus system was hard, and the showers were electric. You could barely turn them on; if they were on just a little bit, the water was really hot, and if they were on all the way it was really cold.”
A math major with a minor in Spanish, Bush began by spending her first month in language school. During this time she walked every day to a school, where she spent four hours a day, five days a week studying Spanish. Afterwards, she began studying Latin American history and science.
“I spent two weeks in Nicaragua where I taught English at a school and two weeks in Guatemala. I also studied sea turtles at a nature conservatory,” said Bush. “That was probably my favorite part, along with the scenery and my host family. The hardest part was seeing all of the poverty. When we were in Guatemala, they wanted to open our eyes and so they took us to the city dump. There were babies and small children living there with their families and that was just really hard to see.”
Bush, who has visited 13 other countries during a month spent in Europe, returned once to Costa Rica for her host sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, she later lost touch with the family.
“All of their information was saved on my university-issued laptop,” Bush said. “Everything ended up getting deleted. I was so upset.”
After graduating from college, Bush taught Spanish for two years in Tennessee. Although she applied for jobs in several other Virginia counties, Fauquier held the most appeal for her.
“When I drove out here for the interview, it was very similar to Tennessee,” Bush said. “It was also similar to the other counties I’ve taught in, based on how nice everyone was.”
Bush spends her free time reading, playing the piano, and hiking; she has trekked in Virginia’s Shenandoah region during the summer.
“[Milligan College] was a very large outdoors college,” Bush said. “I joined hiking club, and we’d go hiking every Saturday. I just enjoy being outdoors.”
According to Bush, all students should explore their study abroad options in college.
“You definitely have to know yourself,” Bush said. “You need to think about what your interests are and think about what kinds of things are on your bucket list. Studying abroad is a great experience, though. It’s a chance to expand your knowledge of how other people live, as well as a chance to become more comfortable with yourself and boost your confidence. You get to find out who you are and do so on your own.”