I had the amazing opportunity to travel to a pueblo in Antioquia near Medellin, a beautiful city in the interior of Colombia, to help facilitate a weeklong English conference for local English teachers with the Marina Orth Foundation. Maureen Orth, a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960’s, helped build a school in her pueblo, Aguas Frias. She continues to support education in Colombia and is the founder of a great organization that promotes education English and technology in Colombia, currently in Medellin and the surrounding areas. You can learn more here: http://www.fundaorth.org
I joined Alex and Michael, two CII-6 volunteers, Barbara, Mary, Lori, and Tom, all veteran teachers, three of whom are RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers), and the amazingly organized, friendly, and knowledgeable staff of the Marina Orth Foundation. We spent a week working with about 100 local primary and secondary teachers. The majority of the teachers worked in primary schools and Alex and I worked with Barbara, Lori, and Tom giving rotating workshops on activities, methodologies, and theory to use in their English classrooms. We sang songs, played games, read books, used TPR to practice vocabulary, made books, and more.
The teachers were wonderful! While the level of English varied greatly among the primary school teachers, everyone participated and soaked up everything they could to bring back to their schools. During the week, the teachers formed small groups and prepared a dynamic lesson that involved some of the methodologies used during the week to teach a theme that they cover in their English classes. The end presentations were impressive, they were so creative and many of the teachers challenged themselves to present in English! No easy feat for sure. I will definitely be using some of the ideas in my own classes.
This marked the first time Peace Corps volunteers have worked in the interior of the country since the program was reestablished in 2010. Partnering with the Marina Orth Foundation was an amazing and fun experience and hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future! Thank you to Maureen, Susana, Alejandro, Natalia, Adriana, and Alejandro for your hard work and support. Buena suerte con sus proyectos!
I will leave you with some wise words from some of the participants: