Monday, October 27, 2014

El Campito

With the stress and excitement of last finally calming down, we moved into this week with lots of new experiences and journeys ahead of us.

Monday and Tuesday was our counterpart conference. We all were introduced to our main counterpart that we will be working with for the next two years. At the conference, we did various activities that allowed us to get to know each other and the schools/communities that we'll surrounded by. My main counterpart's name is Karina and she was very nice. She has a really good level of English and we hit it off well from the get-go. At the conclusion of the conference on Tuesday, everyone headed off to their respective schools in their cities. Karina and I hopped in a cab and headed south to my new barrio and home!

The school, IED El Campito, is in the neighborhood El Campito. This neighborhood ("barrio" en Spanish) is near "The Ocho," a popular street filled with restaurants, malls, bars, clubs, and about anything else anyone could ever want. I was instantly captivated by the neighborhood. The houses are painted with vibrant colors. There were people out and about. Some kids who had just finished school for the day were out playing soccer in the streets. It was a bit of a different scene than the barrio that I currently live in.

The school itself was really nice. It's very small compared to other schools that I have seen here in Colombia (especially my practicum school). There are about 900 students from grades K-11 (remember 11th grade is the equivalent of "senior year" in the states). There are two "jornadas" or "schedules". Secondary (grades 6-11) are in session during the morning jornada and primary (grades K-5) are in session during the afternoon jornada.  I will be working the first jornada with the secondary students! One of the really nice things about this is that all of the English classes are divided up by level (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced). This means that there are 18 different classes (6 grades x 3 levels) that I will be able to choose from and work with! I couldn't be more excited about this!

When we got to the school, I was greeted by a few students that took me on a quick tour of the entire school. The school itself is pretty small. There are only about 18 classrooms spread over two floors, with a bilingual room, auditorium, computer lab, "library", and a soccer field out back for the kids to play on during recess. One of the nicest features of the school is the bilingual room. This room is equipped with about 20 computers, a TV (used as the projector), and WiFi! I couldn't be more stoked for this set up! Plus, I found out that the computer lab has a SmartBoard in it! None of the teachers know how to use it, so it's just been sitting in the lab, unused for the last couple of years. I see some helpful tech workshops in my near future!

I have three counterparts in total that I'll be working with over the next two years. I was able to meet the other two during my visit and am beyond excited to start working with them! They all speak English and are very ecstatic about our upcoming time together. All three (Karina, Mireles, and Yilina) told me repeatedly that they hope that I don't leave early! Luckily for them, that's not part of my plan. There is currently a volunteer at the school, Tom, who will be leaving in about 3 weeks to return back to the states. During my visit, I was able to sit in on a Basic 6th Grade class, Intermediate 7th, 8th, and 11th Grade classes, and Advanced 6th and 9th Grade classes. It was a nice way to see the different classes and what level the students are at that I'll be working with.

An acrostic poem that one of the students wrote for me
 All in all it was a great visit! With only three more weeks of training left, I can feel myself getting anxious to get started. We all become official volunteers at our Swear-In Ceremony on November 14th. This is definitely going to be a bittersweet day! On one hand, we're all going to transition from Trainees to Volunteers. We'll finally be able to put all of our hours of technical trainings and Spanish skills to use in the Colombian classrooms. However, it also signals the moving on to our permanent sites and the leaving of certain friends to other sites outside of Barranquilla. It will definitely be hard to see those people leave, but I will be super excited to go visit them in their new homes!

To celebrate our week of new beginnings, one of our trainee's families decided to host us all over to their house for a celebration! It was so much fun to have a majority of our group in one place, enjoying each others company. We had music provided by our very own DJ Alex and spent a lot of the night dancing and living the Colombian life! I'm looking forward to these types of get togethers as we count down the days until November 14th!

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