Mnica-Schilder
20 Questions with Mónica Schilder, Spanish Teacher

Commonwealth Giving Day, May 23, is dedicated to our teachers—past and present. You can honor their extraordinary work and support Commonwealth by contributing here.

Every day is an adventure, says Mónica Schilder, Spanish teacher and Assistant Director of Dive In Commonwealth. She has brought her joie de vivre—well, alegría de vivir!—to her Commonwealth classes since immigrating to the U.S. from Peru, helping her students find joy and laughter in learning a new language.

1. What three words best describe Commonwealth? 

There's plenty of imagination, curiosity, and fun here.

2. What’s your #1 piece of advice for Commonwealth students?

Relax.

3. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Relax.

4. What does your ideal afternoon entail? 

Having a heartfelt conversation—the kind where time just stops—with my best friends on the beach, probably Punta Hermosa back home [in Peru]. 

5. If you could teach any class aside from your own, what would it be? 

I would love to be able to teach U.S. history, because it would force me to dig deeper and have a much stronger understanding of what this country is all about.

6. Whom do you most admire? 

My mother. I never understood how strong she was until recently. I would like to follow in her footsteps.

7. What do you find is the biggest misconception about teaching?

I think people tend to believe that once you've taught for a while, it’s easy to just go in and repeat the lessons. But I feel like every moment in every class is different, and there's no real practice for that! It’s almost like being an actor: you don't know how the audience is going to react to each performance. Teaching makes you aware of the multiple possibilities.

8. What is your favorite aspect of your work?

The fact that students are just trying to speak a foreign language makes me really happy. I love seeing how they grow and how comfortable they feel when they finally come to class ready to have a good time.

9. What are people surprised to learn about you?

Because of COVID, I finally started cooking. I never wanted to before—and then I became a chef! I cooked something different pretty much every day during COVID [lockdown]. My favorite dishes are arroz con pollo and what my husband calls “jumping steak,” which is like a stir fry with onions, tomatoes, and scallions. It only took me like forty-seven years to learn I had a real talent for cooking!

10. If you could have dinner with one person (alive or dead), who would it be? 

It’s not one person, but it would have to be my best friends or my family. Of course, I love to talk to anyone, but I know that the best time will be spent with the people I love.

11. Fall, winter, spring, or summer?

Summer!

12. What is your favorite museum? 

The Isabella Stewart Gardner, because I can’t believe someone lived there. I go from one room to another and close my eyes and imagine.

13. What is your favorite mode of transportation?

Walking

14. What do you bring to a potluck?

Arroz con pollo

15. What is your go-to Boston eatery?

The Druid

16. If you could live as a local for 48 hours anywhere in the world, where would you go? 

Greece, somewhere next to the ocean

17. If you could join any past or current music group, which would you want to join?

Led Zeppelin

18. What is the theme song of your life?

“Inevitable,” by Shakira 

19. What is the best gift you have ever received?

A doll my mother gave me when I turned seven. The doll had a pacifier that when you took it out, it made her cry.

20. What is your most treasured possession?

My kitties, Moo Moo and Squirrel

Bonus: What is your motto? 

Every day is an adventure.

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