Tyrone Eagle Eye News

Tyrone Teacher Travels the Globe

TAHS teacher Olivia Grugan has lived on four continents learning language and culture

Grugan+directing+a+play+with+her+Palestinian+students+in+2015.+
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Tyrone Teacher Travels the Globe

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Olivia Grugan

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Olivia Grugan

Photo courtesy of Ms. Olivia Grugan

Grugan directing a play with her Palestinian students in 2015.

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Growing up in a bilingual household, Tyrone High School social studies and Spanish teacher Olivia Grugan was exposed to different cultures and languages from a very young age. Grugan’s mother’s family is originally from Germany and beginning when she was three years old, she made extended visits to Germany every other year throughout her childhood. 

These frequent trips helped Grugan pick up the language and made her eager to learn more. When she was in tenth grade, Grugan began travelling independently.  Her first trip was to attend school in Germany for three months to immerse herself in the language and culture.

Germany was the first foreign country I lived in independently, so I think I developed my confidence for travel there”

— Olivia Grugan

Since that experience in high school, Grugan has visited and lived in several other countries, in hopes of becoming fluent in multiple languages.

“Germany was the first foreign country I lived in independently, so I think I developed my confidence for travel there,” said Grugan.

Between high school and college Grugan moved to Guatemala. She originally planned to stay there for only three months, but ended up staying for a year and a half, volunteering at a school there. At first, she didn’t realize a person only has to have a high school diploma to teach in Guatemala, but then they asked her to stay and teach. Through her time in Guatemala, she became fluent in Spanish.

After returning to the United States she went to college in Vermont, where she studied Arabic.

After college, she applied to teach in the Middle East and got accepted to teach at a school in Palestine. The native language in Palestine is Arabic, so this gave Grugan a chance to be completely surrounded by the language and become fluent in Arabic. Grugan stayed in Palestine for three years, teaching and traveling. 

“Living in Palestine gave me a lot of respect for them as a hard-working, kind, and proud people,” said Grugan.

Living in Palestine gave me a lot of respect for them as a hard-working, kind, and proud people”

— Olivia Grugan

While she was teaching in the Palestine territory, she met her husband. He is also an American who was there teaching. From there, they traveled to different neighboring countries because many countries were only several hours away by plane. They went to Greece, Britain, Turkey, Syria, and several other countries in the Middle East while on school breaks. 

Grugan greatly enjoys traveling because it allows her to learn about other cultures. Today she is using those experiences to help her students better understand the world outside of Tyrone.

“She gives us insight on how the native speakers talk and the culture of the country,” said sophomore Kendall Markley.

Even though she has settled down for now in central Pennsylvania, Grugan’s traveling days are far from over. She would like to travel to many more countries.

“I was raised traveling, and so I embraced it. I mean, I first went abroad when I was three,” said Grugan.

When asked where she would like to go next, she said “Where wouldn’t I go?! Maybe somewhere in Northern Africa, or out west in the United States. Where ever I’d go, I’d want to be able to teach, though.”

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About the Writer
Sarah Hoover, Staff Writer

My name is Sarah Hoover and I am a sophomore at Tyrone Area High School. This past summer I was a lifeguard at Delgrosso's Amusement Park.  During the...

1 Comment

One Response to “Tyrone Teacher Travels the Globe”

  1. Patricia Pluebell on January 11th, 2019 8:04 am

    I think this is amazing.

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