Greetings from the beautiful island of Providence! Both Caroline and I have enjoyed the past few weeks, taking on new challenges including learning a new language, avoiding jellyfish in the ocean, and trying new foods. Working for the Ministry of Education’s Immersion Program has allowed the two of us to work directly with 60 of Colombia’s most promising English teachers. Volunteers in San Andres are working with 120 more, which makes for a total of 180 participating teachers.
Caroline and I wake up each morning to a big breakfast and a bike ride to work. We spend the day assisting trained local tutors, who facilitate the main English courses for program participants, and facilitating our own methodology workshops. Because the island is so small we have built incredible relationships with all of the teachers outside of the class room, weather it be at the beach or in the supermarket.
Watching the Colombian teachers integrate into a new culture has been extremely entertaining. Between the language, food, and customs of the island, all of the teachers have had to adapt to a new lifestyle. For many, this is their first time doing so. Being able to switch roles has been a nice break from the lifestyle of the Colombian coast. The teachers participating in the program have been incredible and have given us confidence in the immersion of English in Colombian schools.
Although the days are long, we have gotten to enjoy a plethora of activities! We helped with the planning of a 4th of July BBQ, where teachers swam in the ocean, enjoyed American food, and listened to Caroline and me sing the national anthem. We were also able to hike to the highest point of the island, where we waved to fellow Volunteers in San Andres.
This program has been the quintessence of learning through immersion. Caroline and I will have left in Providence new forms of didactic learning and methodological wisdom, but we will leave with new friendships, memories, and a killer tan!