by Michael Owen (CII-6)
Serving as an education volunteer through the Peace Corps has its challenges, along with its perks. Last week (October 10th-14th), three current Peace Corps volunteers in Colombia had the chance to experience one of these said perks.
PCV’s Alexandra Reed, Michelle DiIeso, and Michael Owen were given the unique opportunity to collaborate with both the Marina Orth Foundation and RPCV’s who served in Colombia during the 1960’s on a weeklong English Immersion experience for over 100 local teachers in the city of El Carmen de Viboral. This was the first time that the Peace Corps had officially been to the interior of Colombia since the 1980’s, when the program was unfortunately disbanded due to civil distress in the country.
The Marina Orth Foundation, founded by RPCV Maureen Orth, who served in Colombia in the 1960’s, is dedicated to providing a model of education that is both accessible and sustainable to both primary and secondary students throughout Colombia. Through the use of technology and English language skills acquisition, the foundation strives to be an example for the rest of the country on how to make higher education an attainable goal for all the children of Colombia.
During this weeklong experience, local teachers gained new ideas on how to interactively teach their students English. The current PCV’s were paired up with RPCV’s and together delivered dynamic ways to teach grammar, vocabulary, and conversation. Participants also received helpful ideas on how to incorporate technology into the learning environment in their schools. The teachers that participated finished the week equipped with new materials and a different outlook on how to encourage their students and further engage them in learning English. This once-in-a-lifetime experience helped bridge the gap between current and former volunteers, while also providing a different work environment in which the current volunteers could gain valuable knowledge to take back to their sites.
To read more about Michael’s time in Colombia, check out his blog: http://lavidademigi.blogspot.com/.