Volunteer Spotlight: Lindsay Copelly-Lerma

by Barbara Alvarado

When the Oíste content editor asked me to drop my current story (but really his) to interview Mrs. Lindsay Lerma for our up-coming issue I was thrilled! You mean you want me to stop research on the “Perennial Shrubs: the Marvelous and Wondrous life of Yucca” story? You want me to interview one of my best friends? You want me to go to her house where she will surely cook me a delicious dinner, tickle my back, let me rummage through her cabinets for dessert, then continue to tickle my back while I greedily eat the last pieces of her JET chocolate bar? Yes capitan! Lindsay can only be described as one of the sweetest, most loving, nurturing, and generous people on the face of this earth. I am not being biased. Here are some questions so that you can get to know her a little bit better.

lindsay 1

What is your full name and where are you from?

Lindsay Abigail Lerma and I am from Phoenix Arizona.

Where and what did you study in college?

I studied at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I studied history education with a minor in health education.

Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?

No. I wasn’t interested in school at all, but when I was in high school something changed; something clicked. I decided that I needed to go to college and get a degree, I just didn’t know in what. I looked around and took a business class and some history. I’ve always liked history. I also took some health classes because I ‘m really interested in how the human body works.

It was actually my mom who suggested that I should be a teacher. She would always tell me that I had the ability to be a good teacher, but I thought, “What does my mom know?” It wasn’t until I got back from my mission that I decided to move forward with education.

lindsay 2

What made you want to join Peace Corps?

My husband. It was his idea. He learned about PC during his master’s program. He told me about it while we were still friends. After we got serious he said he really wanted to do it and I agreed.

In what ways has Colombia surprised you?

The climate, it’s really humid. I thought the coast was going to be like what you see on TV. A nice breeze all the time and you living in your airy, open hut. Haha. I’ve also been surprised by how friendly people are.

What are your plans after PC?

My plan is to go back to school and get my master’s degree in speech pathology, but also spend time with family.

What have been some of your challenges as a PCV?

My asthma. Its flared up while I’ve been here and that’s been a challenge. Establishing relationships at school and building that confianza was also challenging in the beginning.

What are some triumphs?

I’m teaching pre-school at my school, which I love.  My husband and I also work with about twenty youths from our church, and some of them have become my adoptive children. I wrote a grant to create a literature corner for my school, and I’m also happy about the friendships we’ve built.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the literature corner? How did it come about?

The purpose of the literature corner is to provide the primary students with reading material, and to give them something tangible to use to expose them to more literature. I saw that our library wasn’t equipped for my primary students to use. It isn’t like libraries from back home so I had a desire to do something with the space. The problem was that I wasn’t sure if there was an actual need for it. One day I was outside of the kioskos, where my first and second graders have class, and one of the little girls asked me if we could go to the library and read. Her friend told us that they wouldn’t let us. After I heard those two little girls talk about the library I knew that I needed to do something about it.

lindsay 3

What advice would you give to new PCV?

Be persistent and don’t give up.

 What are you going to miss about the coast when you leave? What won’t you  miss?

The fruits! I’ll miss the delicious selection of fruits, the juices, and salchipapas. What I won’t miss is the heat, the bulla and the honking.

What are you going to take away from this experience?

What I’m going to take from this experience is that there are good people everywhere and that life is too short to not live it to the fullest. Best honeymoon ever!

Now a fun round of word association:

Sobusa : green

Sancocho: costilla

Cll. 72 : Exito San Francisco

La costa : Coge la suave

Blower : on-point

Humidity: dreadful

AC – luxury

Yucca – learning how to make it

Mosquitos – bug repellant

We love you Lindsay!



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