by Trevor Johnson
For those who ever had the pleasure of coming to my house during pre-service training, you know the love of Zulmira. She was my host mom during training, but continues to be my host mom every day. We whatsapp almost daily and I’ve visited her several times since we have moved to site. She has become one of my closest friends during our time in Colombia and I really feel like part of her family.
During the first weeks we walked around Sabanagrande (my training town) a lot and she took me to all of her friends houses so I could meet people and so people in the town would know me. It was a nice gesture and really slingshot me into integration. I think she enjoyed showing off her new gringo son. Zulmi doesn’t have kids of her own. I think an explosion of motherly love and instinct had been trapped inside her and she finally got to let it pour out, not only on me but on other volunteers whom she loved to have around.
Something that might be the best representation of how wonderful she is was my birthday. With the clandestine help of other kick-butt volunteers, she planned a surprise party. She decorated the patio and got all kinds of party favors, from hats and masks to balloons and cake. I had absolutely no idea, a fact that can be confirmed by looking at the photos. It was hard to be away from friends and family, but my new friends and incredible host mom made that day more than just a birthday party, it was the best night of pre-service training.
If it wasn’t for her, my experience in Colombia would have been much more difficult and I’m incredibly lucky for the relationship we have.