Hola amigos! Today marks 4 weeks in Colombia. Where does the time go? I feel like so much has happened but it also feels like I left last week. Not much has changed in my life, but today was a perfect day and I wanted to celebrate with a blog post so here we are.
Like I said, life has settled into a nice routine. Monday-Friday I have training from 8-5, once a week I hang out with my friends after school but most nights I go home to spend time with my family, relax and read. Weekends are spent with my friends or in my room binging on Netflix. For 14 of us, training changed up a little this week as Friday was our last day of Spanish class. We spent Monday and Tuesday visiting various sites to choose for our volunteer project and today we spent our first day at our new jobs. The choices were an art gallery, a library, a museum, a center for children with disabilities and a women’s center. I, along with two super fabulous ladies, chose the CEDESOCIAL, the women’s center. It is the most perfect place on planet earth and every single employee there is an absolute angel. CEDESOCIAL focuses on the advancement of women, helps victims of violence and sexual abuse, fights against machismo while teaching inclusive masculinity, supports diversity and combats homophobia, and promotes women’s reproductive rights. They are also starting a new project to educate prostitutes and show them other alternatives of providing for their family. It’s basically all of my beliefs rolled into one, big happy place. I am in my element here. If I stay in Barranquilla, I definitely hope to continue volunteering there after training. Not only will it be an amazing learning experience, I can already tell my Spanish is improving after one day. Folks, if you want to master a language, integration is key! There is only so much learning that can be done in a classroom, which brings me to my next point…
INTEGRATION! You guys, I want to be so freakin’ integrated that people take one look at me and assume I’m costeña. I realize that this is a lofty goal but I am already well on my way. Today, my partner Sammy and I showed up to our practicum to find that no teacher was there. We had been warned that this can happen on the coast but it was still a shock. However, Sammy and I stayed in class and just hung out with 40 8th graders for the 100 minute class period (yes, 100 minutes. With 8th graders. And I didn’t kill anyone. IT’S A MIRACLE!) But seriously, these kids were so sweet and fun and intelligent. We just sat and chatted. They asked me questions in English about the US and I learned about Carribean culture. Hello cultural exchange! JFK would be so proud and I had an absolute blast!
When I got back to my barrio (on a new bus line, all by myself I might add), I immediately heard someone screaming my name from the other side of the calle. It was my neighbor and her two adorable kids. I crossed the street to say hello, greeted her with an air- cheek kiss thing that is popular here and immediately started chatting about our days. After we said good bye, I crossed the street and walked by the corner tienda (a little store that sells candy, toilet paper, chips, pop, beers and also converts into a restaurant at night). I greeted the workers and stopped to chat with a dude who is a frequent customer there. Finally, after almost 4 weeks here I’m becoming a part of the community.
Life is good friends. I am missing the fall weather back home but don’t worry, last night it dipped down to 77 degrees so I put my sweats on and turned my fan on low! Hope all is well wherever you may be. If it’s not, it will be soon. ¡Cógelo suave! Xoxoxoxo
P.S. Ever since I accepted my invitation to Colombia, I’ve been saving these cool quotes to keep me motivated and cheer me up when I’m feeling down. I’m going to try and share one at the end of each of my blog posts. Hope you like!