Nukanti Foundation

FOSTERING COMMUNITIES THROUGH YOUTH EMPOWERMENT

Life and Work in the Heart of Colombia's Coffee Region

Charlotte JoyceComment

The project, initiated by the Nukanti Foundation, an international non-governmental organization advocating for children’s rights in conflict zones, and funded by the Colombian government, involved teaching English at a school in Colombia’s coffee triangle. 

On the morning of September 27th, our delegation, comprising of a representative from the Nukanti Foundation, an external consultant for the project, two officials from the department of education in Pereira, and myself, arrived in La Celia (a small village at the foot of the Tatamá hills, about 60 kilometres to the northwest of Pereira) to participate in an inauguration meeting with school management, English teachers, a few students, and representatives from the alcaldia (local administration). 

After a series of presentations and speeches, everyone expressed their wholehearted support of the project, and then we parted for lunch. 

The teaching during the first week was more of a trial and error experience. Once we established a timetable and methodology, things have gone much more smoothly.

The ‘Liceo de Occidente’ school, the only educational institution in a pueblo of about 6,000 people, is fortunate to have Norbey, an academic coordinator with tons of positive energy, astonishing organizational skills, and a progressive vision of how to educate children in the 21st century. His dedication to the students and belief in the usefulness of the project has ensured that I receive all the support I need during the time of teaching. Furthermore, Norbey is a great friend. Throughout my time in La Celia he has been extremely helpful and supportive. Despite being nearly 10,000 kilometres away from my country, I have felt at home in this tiny pueblo. Liceo’s three English teachers, Hugo, Jonatan, and Norberto, who in the course of the project became good friends, have shown dedication and motivation throughout the entire process. 

Due to the short period of time allowed for this project, the possibilities to make a lasting impact are limited. Still, I hope that during a month and a half of daytime classes, conversatorios, and evening classes with students of various ages between 10 and 60, I have been able to motivate the students and teachers alike to carry on learning the English language and hopefully stimulate their curiosity about Europe and my country. The time spent in La Celia has certainly been a fantastic learning experience for me.  

The people of the village have been welcoming and kind. Paradoxically, despite the municipality being in the heart of the Coffee region, it can sometimes be a real mission to get a decent cup of coffee here. Food is delicious, although to fully appreciate the supposedly exquisite taste of ‘delicacies’ such as bofe (cow lungs) and chunchuya (cow intestine), I still need a lot of practice.

English language class

English language class