Insight into being an intern on the ground with Nukanti Foundation, hear from Philipp Zwehl about the Weaving Cazuca and Capoeira projects
Teaching English in Colombia – and Learning about Life
Based in Southampton (UK), Alliants - a technology solutions company driving better customer experiences for the brands they serve. On the weekend of 7-9 February 2014, it hosted the local meeting for #Hack4Good. Over 48 sleepless hours, the team from Alliants collaborated with two nonprofits, Nukanti and a local charity known as Learning through Landscapes, for whom the team designed apps geared towards motivating kids to go outdoors and get away from their screens.
NukantiShop is a bridge between artisans from all over the globe and the world market, creating opportunities for fair trade, using recycled and eco-friendly materials, and investing back into social programs for children. Through your purchase, you can impact the lives of many artisans and children we work with!
It’s time for me to go. It’s time for me to say good bye. It’s a sad time!
It doesn’t feel like it’s been almost five months since I first saw the mountains of Colombia and the peaks of Cerro Batero and Gobia guarding the lives of all Quinchienos from above. These five months have been busy with learning, exploring and, in the same time, teaching and sharing experiences. It’s a mutual process. Together with the locals we influenced the life of each other in some ways.
After a few months living and working in Colombia finally we took some time off and travelled to the North first and then to the South a bit. And as a result we are even more in love with this country. Colombia is amazing! Okay, so here are the details:
Holiday and festive season in Colombia!
Colombians are religious. I knew this before but Semana Santa still surprised me. This life stopped in Quinchia for a week and religious people spent the days celebrating, praying, and perhaps deepening their beliefs. Also, this week the local secondary school celebrated its 50th anniversary. For these two reasons there were lots of things happening in town and Quinchia was energizing.
‘The only risk is that you stay’ – says the slogan of the official travel guide of Colombia. And after two months in this country I’m realising how true it is. I arrived here with knowing not much else but the general stereotypes of this country – the sea, dancing and the FARC. Since then, my view has taken a 180 degree turn. Colombia is so much more! Amazing nature, rich culture and the kindest people in the world – and also so much to be done socially, economically as well as politically.
Quinchia, my home and workplace in the middle of the coffee region of Colombia, offers great coffee, sunshine most of the days and beautiful tracks to climb on the surrounding mountains. But it also has a large displaced population, high unemployment and declining health rates. Just a few years ago Quinchia was a conflict zone. Now it’s calm and safe but still dealing with the aftermath of the conflict. The conflict is still in the people’s minds and is in their memories although it is not spoken about every day.
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.
“Tell us about New York.”
“What do you want to know?”
This conversation during one of Guatica’s evening community classes prompted a one-hour viewing session of my archived photos a few weeks later. With my hard drive in tow, I presented them with over fifty folders of photos from my experiences over the past five years. To reduce the time, they chose two: “California: L.A.” (a week-long trip to visit a best friend on my way home from teaching in China for a year) and “NYC: Aug-Dec 2011” (during my master’s program in New York City).
“Aw, how amazing! I want to go there.”
A student in ninth grade recently reacted this way after researching France for English Day.
The classes at Colegio Maria Reina are preparing for English Day on November 14th. On this day, each class in grades six through eleven – thirteen classes of over 300 students in total – will present a country in the form of a travel agency in the morning and an artistic cultural presentation in the afternoon. The countries represented will be Canada, England, France, Ireland, USA, Japan, Brazil, and five cities of Colombia (for the younger classes).
NukanTrip provides you with a distinct way of traveling with cultural immersions through direct constant interaction with locals in their communities who will teach you about their lifestyle, their food, music, dance and other artistic manisfestations.
A few days before moving into Guatica—a small municipality of 16,000 inhabitants nestled in the mountains of Risaralda—the mayor, teachers, students, parents and government directors set up a meeting with Pereira’s Department of Education representatives (available via Skype) and me. About thirty people attended, happy and curious about my arrival. I felt welcomed and supported. It was impressively reassuring, especially since my biggest fear for the program had been lack of support by the local officials and the schools; the meeting was evidence to the contrary.
Nukanti recently welcomed our first group of English language instructors to the departments of Risaralda and Caldas. Three volunteers arrived from the United States and Czech Republic to take part in our two month pilot project to teach English in various communities within the beautiful coffee region of Colombia. The program entails building leadership and empowerment and raising the educational level of the children with whom we work.
We saw the best of Morocco while working for women and children’s rights and wellbeing. In the Moroccan Sahara, with beautiful landscapes over the dunes of the Valley of Dades, we packed a truly wonderful experience into 10-days from June 9th to June 19th, 2012. We trecked and immersed ourself in their culture while giving our time to a worthy cause!
NukanTrip saw the best of Brazil while working for children’s rights in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro