MacKallie's Study Abroad Story

Study abroad is for me because...

It pushed me outside of my comfort zone and that changed me in such a big way.

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MacKallie's Story

Every day that junior special education major MacKallie Householder spent studying abroad in Belize over winter term, she worked with the same student learning English for 30 minutes. And almost every day, MacKallie would talk, but he wouldn’t say a word.

“He’s in what we call, in the world of ELL (English-Language Learner), a silent period,” MacKallie said. “He came from China to Belize not that long ago, so he’s just taking in the culture and the language.”

But by the time she left, she was able to see the impression she had left on the student and progress that he had made.

“By the last day, the day that I left, he gave a presentation in two full English sentences completely on his own, and I thought I was going to cry,” MacKallie said.

Teaching ELL students was just one of the experiences MacKallie had through Miami’s College of Education, Health and Society winter term in Belize program. This also allowed her to experience the education system in a different country and in the pink cabana that her classroom was in.

“We got to work in the most amazing school. It was called Peninsula International Academy, and it was a private school, and it was tiny and adorable and in these old hotel cabanas,” MacKallie said. “It was one of my first field placements honestly where they were using all best practices, which is not at all a criticism of any of the other field placements I go to. But, it was just really cool that they had the ability because they were such a small school, that they could do everything that is a current trend and best practice in education.”

The other part of the program was conducting a research project, which MacKallie did on the cultural perceptions related to disability in Belize by interviewing local community members on the topic.

“We were all terrified to just go up to community members and potentially pull them away from their job or whatever they were doing and answer our questions, especially about disability, because that’s a hot button topic in some cultures,” MacKallie said. “But it was really interesting to have those dialogues. A lot of the community members were super willing to be interviewed which was amazing and is not something that I think would be the same in the United States.”

Though intimidating at first, she found that this experience really helped her immerse herself in the community and the culture, which was one of her main goals of studying abroad.  

“I think there’s a lot to learn from traveling,” MacKallie said. “But I think there’s so much when you’re actually in the community and you’re getting to know community members.”

MacKallie was also able to get a taste of what she wants to pursue in the future— finish her English Language Learners Certificate and work with students with disabilities and those who are learning English. Teaching abroad gave her a chance to expand her worldview and interact with those students from different backgrounds and with different identities.   

“It is so important to me that I’m constantly learning about the different types of students that I’ll be having, the different cultures and backgrounds they’re coming from, and just different things going on in the world,” MacKallie said. “I don’t feel like my students will always be learning if I’m not always learning, so it’s really important to learn about the world around me.

About MacKallie

MacKallie Householder headshot


Green, Ohio

Graduation Year



Inclusive Special Education


Culture, ELs, Writing, and Research in Belize

Favorite Class or Professor Abroad

Both EDT 221 and EDP 324 taught by Dr. Davis and Dr. Castaneda

Favorite Destination Abroad

Xunantunich Mayan Temples

Campus Involvement

Lifeguard at the Rec Center, Miami University Rowing Club, and Student Council for Exceptional Children Exec Board