Where are you?
I am in Colombia. For my first three months here, during Pre-Service Training, I was in a small town south of Barranquilla. Now I am lucky enough that my permanent site is a small town on the ocean just west of Barranquilla.
What are you doing there?
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Practical English for Success (PES) program, meaning that I work in public schools with high school English teachers and primary teachers interested in teaching English. While I co-teach classes, the focus is on the teachers rather than the classes. How can I help them improve their language teaching methodology? How can I help them improve the sequencing of their classes? How can I help them make their classes more communicative, focused on giving students practical language skills? How can I help them improve their own English level?
I am also the president of the Gender Equality Committee. Our committee aims to impart new and effective ways for Colombian nationals to separate themselves from the masses that succumb to the cultural phenomenon of machismo and tackle the problems that it presents in the local context.
Beyond that, I spend a lot of time supporting the post’s social media efforts, and serve as the Layout Editor for Peace Corps Colombia’s online magazine Oíste (check it out!).
Did you get to choose your program/placement?
Yes, more or less. I applied at a time when the Peace Corps was shifting their application process. Previously volunteers would apply and interview before submitting their placement preferences. Now prospective volunteers apply for the specific program/location that they want. I submitted a general application, but at the time of my interview my recruitment officer and I discussed placement. I wanted to work in a Spanish-speaking country, and I was most qualified (based on my volunteer experience) for the PES program. Based on the time-frame I wanted and those parameters, that narrowed it down to Guatemala and Colombia. There is a lot going on in Guatemala that restricts volunteers, and I am most comfortable in the city, so Colombia ended up being the best fit.
How long is the commitment?
27 months total – 3 months in pre-service training, and then 24 months of service in my placement site.
What did you doing with your stuff?
I sold a bunch, I donated a bunch, and I stored some. Read more about that process here.
Will you be back at Target when you’re done?
Nope! TBD on the future job; suggestions or leads are welcome!
What does (insert name here) think about this?!
Regardless of the name you insert there, the answer is that they are very supportive. Sometimes my parents made comments like, “Are you sure you still want to go?” and my boyfriend said, “Two years!”, but no one tried to talk me out of it. Everyone is just concerned about my well-being and safety, or is selfish and wants me around, but they are also pumped that I am living my life and pursuing my dreams.
How long have you known you’d be going?
I applied May 2014, interviewed July 2014, and accepted my invitation November 2014. So, a long-ass time. My full timeline of this process is documented here.
What made you decide to do this?
I want to torture myself with heat and humidity, and with having to integrate myself into a strange community, and with having to navigate a pretty ambiguous appointment, and with having to do it alone in a different language. Or I want to have the great experience of living somewhere completely different, using the skills that I have to empower others to learn and grow, and I want to be able to share my culture and be able to share my host country’s culture with my friends and family. The longer, and less snarky, version is here.
What’s your address?
All mail is distributed through our main office, the address for which is below. First, a few very important notes to ensure speedy and affordable delivery:
- Please mark the customs form stating that items are used and declare the value at $1 (and send me items unpackaged where possible); this will reduce the cost that I have to pay for customs.
- Packages typically take a month to arrive, and it seems that letters just never arrive.
- Send me the number on the declaration form; this is the only way we are able to track packages.Important! Cross your 7’s
Centro Empresarial Las Americas
Calle 77B #57-141 Oficina 713