Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Known...

So the dust has settled a bit. I've had some time to let the fact that I'm heading to Colombia sink in and ingrain itself in my mind. Nervousness, excitement, and a flood of other emotions have entangled themselves over the past few days. With a long list of things to do still staring me in the face, it's time to recap what I do know so far about this experience...

Where will I be located?

While I don't know my specific location yet for my service, I know that I will be located on the northern coast of Colombia along the Caribbean Sea. My 10-12 week pre-service training will take place in the city of Barranquilla, a beautiful coastal city that offers serene beaches and rugged mountains. The other cities that I could be placed in or around include Cartagena and Santa Marta.

As you can see, all three of the cities are right on the water. The average temperature is 85 year round (glad that I've had practice living in these conditions - thanks Florida!). I'm pretty sure that I'm now never going to be able to live in a landlocked state/country ever again after spending 4+ years near the beach/water!

What will I be doing?

I will be teaching English at either a primary or secondary school in one of the above communities. My main job is to collaborate with 3-4 other teachers and assist them in the delivering of lessons to 45-50 students at one time. This will be my main duty, as I will be instructing in this manner for about 16 hours a week. When I'm not in school, I will also be active in the community, running English classes for locals, along with possibly setting up other opportunities to stay involved with those I"ll be living with.

The teaching side of things will be a bit different from what I experienced while in Korea. Many of the schools do not have air conditioning, so the typical school day tends to last from 7 am to 12 pm (noon). Many schools are not equipped with adequate technology (i.e. photocopiers, projectors, computers, etc.), so there will be a lot of blackboard teaching. Supplies can sometimes be limited as well, as many schools are unable to afford formal textbooks for their students. This will definitely challenge myself as an educator, but it's one that I'm excited to attack head on!

Where will I live?

One of the things about this program that really excited me was the fact that I'll be staying with a host family for the entire duration of my term of service. I've had awesome experiences in the past with host families. My families in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Spain all treated me like on of their own. I'll probably have two different families - one during the pre-service training and then one for my actual term of service. There's no telling what kind of things I'm going to learn from my host family or experience with them. This is definitely one of the things that I'm looking forward to the most!

Over the next few months, there are countless appointments to be made (physicals, blood work, dental exams and x-rays, along with some good ol' immunizations!). I've also gotta get back into Spanish mode and start brushing up on my skills so that those language classes don't kick my butt too much! Most of all, I've gotta make sure that I enjoy my last few months down here in Florida. With 3+ months left of my second AmeriCorps program, there are still plenty of places that I want to see and things that I want to do. It's gonna be a jam-packed couple of months!

Bring it on!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Next Great Adventure

Friday, March 14, 2014...

Sitting on my couch, engrossed in the latest re-runs of The Big Bang Theory, my phone chirps, informing me that I have a new email. Is this finally the email that I have been waiting for for the past few weeks? Will my next travel plans be established? I nervously reached for my phone, swiping in the code to unlock my upcoming future. As I read through the email, I quickly realized that this was in fact the email that I had been patiently waiting for!

I can now officially announce that I will be participating in the Peace Corps, volunteering for the next 2 years in the beautiful country of Colombia!! I'm still slowly starting to come down off of the high and adrenaline of receiving this official invite. Being apart of the Peace Corps has been something that I've wanted to do since I was in college and seeing it finally come true is amazing, to say the least!

Despite turning down the opportunity to participate in the Peace Corps last year in favor of doing a second AmeriCorps year, I still knew that this was something that I could do and successfully complete. My interview for the position was held in December and at that time I was nominated for a teaching position in Colombia, but nothing was for sure set in stone until the official invites were handed out in late February/early March. Needless to say, I have been compulsively checking my email and mailbox for the past few weeks waiting for the good news.

All of that patience and waiting finally paid off. Colombia, here I come!!

(More details about what I'll be doing, along with the remaining process to get this done, to come soon!)