Shiry Canillas

Blunt Pre K/Kindergarten instructor Shiry Canillas arrived from the Philippines to take up her teaching position just a few days before the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

The Manilla native says that she’ll be in the US for the term of her contract which can be from three to five years. “After the program, we’ll go back to the Philippines and share what we learned here,” said Canillas.

After completing all the paperwork to obtain her visa for the cultural exchange program she is part of, Canillas had to make adjustments to being on the other side of the world from her home: a new time zone, culture, and job.

Canillas explains that she is from a family of educators. “I came from a family of teachers, so I was inspired to take the same path,” said Canillas. “I love kids, I love children. My degree is in Special Education, but most of my experience is in kindergarten.”

Her first weeks on the job were filled with learning the routine and the curriculum. “And the language I’m using is not my native language, so I’m adjusting to dialogue.”

Canillas says that she was initially offered a position in Florida, but chose South Dakota as a location “I could bring my family, something nice for them to experience. My husband and two kids will be joining me here soon.” South Dakota’s lower cost of living, weather and culture also appealed.

With a plan to immerse herself in teaching techniques found in America, Canillas says that she hopes to gain understanding of the culture on the opposite side of the world, and to “see the beauty of living in specifically South Dakota.”

“I’m planning to on shadowing and reaching out to other teachers to understand what they do, and then put in my own input after I master some things,” said Canillas. She expects to share classroom strategies she’s learned when she returns to the Philippines.

“It’s different here. I thought the United States was mostly cities, buildings, and lots of people,” said Canillas. “Driving here, there are no houses, only fields – kind of like a ghost town.”

“Personally, I see the people are warm, especially to new faces. I’m loving it. All are welcoming.”