Skip to main content

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Peace Corps Volunteers with US Ambassador's Wife - Bogota

Every day people ask me why I am here in Cartagena and how long I plan to stay. I have a few one liners to explain my presence. "I am an English teacher... the US and Colombian governments are working together to improve English instruction... at least 9 months..." If someone is really interested, I explain the Peace Corps, and if he or she is really, really interested I tell them it has three goals:

• Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
• Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
• Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
-peacecorps.gov

I find it funny that no one ever asks me if I accomplish these goals. I have #2 down. Sometimes I feel like Uncle Sam's niece as I am humming "You're a Grand Ole Flag" and teaching how to pronounce the words "United States of America." I'm on my way to completing #3 via this blog, Facebook, and YouTube and giving presentations when I get home. Hopefully, followers are getting the idea that Colombia isn't just drug cartels and kidnappings. But most importantly, what about goal #1? Am I meeting the needs of the Colombian government and its schools? Are its teachers being trained to suit the need of better English instruction in public schools? In a month, I will hand in an Excel spreadsheet to my boss stating, "Yes, I am fulfilling Colombia's needs and more." It will have a list of our English project goals and objectives and I will have typed some numbers and comments next to them that will make my work look exceptional. That's easy to do since, I am working with a very talented Colombian teacher. Gabriel has been teaching English for 16 years, speaks it fluently, and is far better trained in language instruction than I, even with my master's degree in ESL Education. He can make illogical English grammar make sense and 18 year olds laugh while reciting irregular past tense verbs. Gabriel is already the trained teacher Colombia and its schools need.

So, where do I come in? Am I simply the cheapest diplomat the US has ever every hired? On July 1st, I will have completed my minimum 9 month service and be proud that I helped with Peace Corps's reentry into Colombia after 30 years. I guess accomplishing 2 out of 3 goals ain't bad, right? 33.3% of me says, "No, now it's time to help Colombia."

Popular Posts

Peace Corps Colombia Begins... Again

9/26/2010 – 10/15/2010 C1 On September 26, 2010, I arrived along with 8 others to Barranquilla, Colombia to reinstate the United States Peace Corps . We are called Colombia 1 (C1) even though there were many groups before us from 1961- 1981. Peace Corps had to shut down its programs to protect Peace Corps Volunteers’ (PCVs) safety endangered by guerilla warfare and civil unrest. Now, we are back serve to Colombia`s northern coast, but are still proud to be former PCVs from Liberia, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Dominican Republic, Guatemala,  Honduras, Paraguay, and Colombia. Our ages range from 26 to 69 years old. We are all are from different regions of the US and have different ethnicities. One PCV, Carolina, is from Bogota, Colombia, but moved to Florida when she was 17 years old and became a US citizen. Now, she is serving both the US and Colombia. Our oldest PCV, Philip, served in Colombia from 1963- 1965, returned home to be an ESL teacher in the Compton and Watts neighborhoods of Los …

Top Ten Things I Always Do in Colombia, But Never at Home

10. Shower with cold water since, no one has or needs hot water
9. Eat homemade rice, beans, meat, and soup with a bone in it everyday
8. Sing out loud at school, in the street, and on the bus
7. Keep my bag on my lap or insight at all times
6. Carry toilet paper everywhere I go
5. Drink liquids out of plastic bags instead of bottles
4. Wear clean and ironed clothes everyday
3. Get in-home manicure and pedicure service
2. Put on 50 sunblock all over my body everyday instead of moisturizer
1. Love the weather

La Buseta: Cartagena's Original Roller Coaster Ride

Cartagena has a fun and hectic bus culture with a surprisingly civil etiquette. The buses are called busetas because they are much smaller than most public buses in the world. Many of the Cartagena`s barrio streets are narrow and curvy which makes turning difficult. Anyone over 5'4" is normally uncomfortable with their knees jammed in the back of the seat in front of them. My friends over 6 feet have to stoop when standing on a crowded bus. Their heads hit the ceiling with every bump. It can also be quite hot since, temperatures are normally in the high 80s 10:00AM to 3:00PM every day of the year.

There are a few air-conditioned buses for a few pesos more. However, they do not have what makes most Latin American buses truly fun and festive: music and decorations. In Cartagena, the buses blare all sorts of rhythms: Salsa, Vallenato (Colombia's Country music), Champeta (Afro-Colombian music from Cartagena), and many others that I am still learning. I've never heard any …