Stories From Colombia2021-06-23T18:02:50+00:00

The Video Beam Project: An Early Success

Among the in-country projects funded by Friends of Colombia last year was the local purchase of 12 video beam projectors for PCVs to use in the field. No more old-style movie projectors! PCVs can now go higher-tech by checking out the available video beam projectors for use in classrooms, conference sites and other gathering places. This grant was managed by the ICT4D Committee in Peace Corps Colombia by Alyssa Galik and Maya Cross. We currently have distributed projectors to three geographical hubs (Barranquilla, Santo Tomas and Fundacion). Volunteers from two programs—Community Economic Development (CED) and Practical English for Success (PES) [...]

New Opportunities for FUNDACION, Thanks to Partnersips

by Helene Dudley (Colombia-65) and Andrew Koch (CII-9) In Fundacion, it is all about the partnerships. Yarmila Altamar, a 46 year old single mother and entrepreneur created La Olla Milagrosa in 2015 to serve an impoverished Fundacion community. In November, 2016, when Andrew Koch, a Community and Economic Development Peace Corps Volunteer arrived on the scene, she was already looking for a way to make Olla’s services sustainable.  As part of Peace Corps training, Andrew participated in an October presentation about TCP Global’s micro-loan program, which provides a funding stream for effective grassroots organizations like Olla Milagrosa. He connected Yarmila with [...]

TEFL Immersion at Maureen Orth Foundation

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 [...]

From Cartagena to Tena: How Peace Corps Service Opens Doors

by Katlin Decker (CII-4)  Before I even applied to Peace Corps and graduate school, I remember hearing many people say how Peace Corps would open doors. I became a PC Masters International student back in 2011 because combining a graduate program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and PC service in an English teaching program seemed like an ideal step in my career path in the field of English language instruction. Without a doubt this combination has indeed opened doors for me, such as the opportunity to develop the English language program at a new university in Ecuador. [...]

Small Change Makes a Big Difference

by Ashley Huebscher (CII-5) While finishing my teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was invited to serve in Peace Corps Colombia. Joining the rapidly growing community of other volunteers who bravely ventured off into the world to serve a higher cause, I left with just two suitcases not knowing yet where this bold decision would lead me. My primary project was entitled Teaching English for Livelihoods which took me on an incredible life journey that has impacted me in ways I would have never expected. I learned valuable lessons about teaching and working with diverse constituents, about joining [...]

Opening Night of my Exhibition in Brooklyn

by Sarah Shaw (CII-5) A few weeks ago, I boarded a Concord Coach bus in Portland, carrying a black portfolio filled with two years of drawings, photographs and plans to install my first solo show at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. It seemed almost surreal to hold two years of work in my hands. Thinking about those countless hours spent researching, sketching, drawing, and coloring, while trying to avoid drops of sweat from splattering on the pages, made me realize how they had become such an integral part of my experience in Colombia. At the end of January, when one [...]

Adopting a “Cógela Suave” Attitude

-by Kelsey Minten (CII-4) The effects of two years living in Barranquilla, Colombia don’t fade easily. That’s what I’m learning almost a year and a half after returning from Peace Corps service and settling into my new life in New York City. The Puerto Rican or Dominican Spanish I hear on the subway floats just as naturally into my ears as el español costeño. The exorbitant prices for tropical fruits in my grocery store don’t stop me from buying a mango every once in awhile. The salsa music roaring from cars on street corners in my East Harlem neighborhood in the summer makes [...]

Greetings from a Community Economic Development Response Volunteer

- by Andy Lamb (PCRV, CED) Hey Friends of Colombia, I am writing desde the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where the sun is always bravo and the neighbor's vallenato is never-ending. I'm part of the 10 person Peace Corps Response Volunteer team assigned to the region with the task of establishing the Community Economic Development (CED) sector. We are spread out across the coastal area, operating in four departments: Atlántico, Bolívar, Magdalena, and La Guajira. The first three months of our time in site was dedicated to performing a community diagnostic, in which we were able to better understand the [...]

Documenting Daily Life in Colombia Through Illustration

-  Sarah Shaw (CII-5) Less than two weeks ago, I finished my Peace Corps service in a peri-urban fishing community called La Boquilla, located 25 minutes north of Cartagena, Colombia. I’m still thinking about scenes that I need to draw—the lime green cart filled with fritos surrounded by red plastic tables and chairs, the aggressive hat vendors in the Centro, and the bustling, chaotic Bazurto Mercado. Cartagena continues to inspire me. Throughout the last 27 months in Colombia, I documented my experience through a series of full-color llustrations and daily drawings. During training, before I knew much about Colombia, I began making collages of [...]

¡Viva la Piña! – A Community Development Story

By: Ron Burkard In 1965 I became regional director for the CARE-managed Accion Comunal Peace Corps program in Colombia, moving from Guadalajara, Mexico to Barranquilla. The wonderful area I covered was the then-departamentos of La Guajira, Magdalena, Atlantico, Bolivar and Cordoba. There were about 50 urban and rural volunteers in the region at the time. Several of them are still friends, more than 40 years later! CARE's contract with the Peace Corps ended on short notice when I had been in Barranquilla for less than a year. This was one of the shortest but most meaningful of 17 assignments during [...]

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