Colombia · Immersion Camp · La Tebaida · Ministerio Educacion · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Immersion Camp – The fun!

My favorite part of the camp was the time we all spent growing together as a group.  We grew as a group of fellows by all living in the same house together for the duration of our time.  I am an introvert as were most of us!  We would all scatter when we needed our ‘alone’ time.  I am so impressed that we grew as a group and really enjoyed each other’s company.  There was only dissension at the end and then only with one fellow!

Every day started with a warm-up after breakfast.  Breakfast was the only thing during the day that was optional.  Most of us started out coming to breakfast and then deciding that we could definitely use the extra 1/2 hour to sleep instead!

lunch

The warm-ups were a lot of fun.  They consisted of activities and songs that the teachers could use later in their classes of elementary students.  They included a lot of repetition and ‘repeat after me’.  We all got to share the songs we grew up on in our countries!  The teachers loved this time and we had to create a file to write down the words to the songs.

One of the most fun days we had was called the Super Human Challenge day.  On this day the teachers had to complete tasks in groups working together physically and speaking only English!  It was so much fun and they all loved it!

We also had a multi-cultural night where we as fellows shared about our culture.  We came from England, the US, India, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Venezuela, Canada and Australia.  The teachers came from all the regions of Colombia.  It was a fun night, of food, presentations, displays, dancing and singing!

Amazon culture

The end of the camp was celebrated with a graduation and all the participants received a certificate of completion.  We were all exhausted, but happy.  It was quite an achievement and we created WhatsApp and Facebook groups to continue our relationships!

Graduation

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Colombia · Hotel Campestre Portal del Sol · Immersion Camp · La Tebaida · Ministerio Educacion · Quindio · South America · Teaching English · Travel

La Tebaida – Teacher Immersion Training

The ministry of education here in Colombia is working hard to achieve a bilingual Colombia.  They have many initiatives to accomplish this goal and my job here is one of them.  I continue to be very impressed with their efforts and the programs that they use to achieve their goal.  Colombia Bilingue has more information on their initiatives.

Part of their program is an immersion camp for teachers of English throughout Colombia.  This year, they have elementary English teachers attending the camp and I get to help out as a fellow.  I was so excited.  The camp was three weeks long and took place a a hotel Campestre in La Tebaida, Quindio, Colombia.  The ministry took care of our transportation to and from Armenia and our host cities.

The hotel was gorgeous and was in the middle of coffee country.  There were 20 fellows and 109 Elementary teachers.  There was a group of 5 English language teachers there from Pearson Colombia – That is the group that was doing the testing and educating the teachers in methodologies.

The hotel was called Portal del Sol and was gorgeous!! There were swimming pools and trees, flowers and birds everywhere.

We fellows arrived two days before the teachers to prepare warm-up exercises, activities and the testing for the teachers.  They were to take a test upon arrival and just before leaving to gauge the efficacy of our camp.  This was an English immersion, so only English was to be spoken the entire time at camp.  The ministry was expecting all the teachers to be at an A2- B1 level.

The teachers arrived ready to go!  They were eager to learn English and were thrilled to be chosen from over 350 applicants.  These were the lucky 109 Elementary English Teachers!  I was so excited to meet them and begin our camp together.

Bogota · Colombia · Ministerio Educacion · South America · Teaching English · Tejo · Travel

Tejo

Today we had to go to a ministry of education event. I was so glad to go, and already had an email about the event and signed up. The other fellows were not thrilled with the idea of going. It had sounded like we would be at a lecture type thing where we would hear about the ministry of education and what they are doing to help Colombia become a leader among South American nations in educating the youth.  A lot of the fellows don’t speak much Spanish yet, so I am sure it is very difficult to sit for a long time while not understanding what is going on.  It ended up being a televised media event held at a TV studio and we were there to be shown off in the background!

The studio was circular and there were like people grouped together for the crowd effect.  We had to wear our bright green vests so that we stood out – though our obvious foreignness should have sufficed!  There were groups of school children dressed up and teachers with their vests seated together as well.  https://www.facebook.com/Mineducacion/

It was very interesting though and the ministry is actually doing some cool things. It is nice to see that the government is taking education seriously as a way to increase their goal of a lasting peace in the country between FARC and the government. Students can get scholarships to go to good universities, curriculum experts  (docentes), can get their master’s in education paid for, schools are being built and improved and more educational books are being provided to the schools. They are starting focus more on Choco, an area long neglected by the government and trying to bring it up to the level in the rest of the country. It was a very interesting event. They had speakers there from all the areas they talked about to back up their assertions.

min

All of us fellows went out to lunch afterwards and hung out and talked. It was relaxing and nice to see everyone. The fellows came from Fusa, Mosquera, and then us from Bogota. Some of us went to play Tejo after lunch. Tejo is a traditional Colombian game where one throws lead balls at a mud board that has pieces of explosives on it. When one hits the explosive, it pops! It is a very fun game it turns out! Though the explosives are incredibly hard to make explode!

It is free to get into the Tejo place, but one has to buy a case of beer. Not a bad combination, beer and explosives! I am surprised that Americans aren’t into this game!! It was 30 beers for about $40. Not bad – there were 8 of us – so not an expensive afternoon.  We went to the Campo de Tejo Los Bucanos which is near the Gold Museum in Candelaria.  It was an interesting little building that one would never have guessed was a campo de Tejo.  From the entry it looked like a restaurant and nothing else.  One had to know that it was there.  We had to walk into the restaurant to the back room.

It was very dirty and rustic and there was loud Ranchera music playing.  At first the explosions were very startling, but one gradually got used to it.  It was nice to see the people who knew what they were doing play!  We were instructed to stand closer to the mud board so that our led circles could actually hit the explosive papers!  There are four papers placed into the mud and then one throws the lead circle to try to hit them.  If you are able to hit them just right they explode!  It is harder than it looks!!  We ended up putting about 10 papers on the board to give us a better chance, but…. it didn’t seem to help us at all.  We hung out there for a couple of hours and just relaxed and chatted.  It is a great way to unwind.

tejo3

It was great because Norbert came to join us and hang out and meet my friends. They had this amazing cat there that is just like my Sasha. He was fun to play with and they took really good care of him – he had a whole play level with cat scratching trees,  food, water, litter and toys, beds and boxes! I went up to see the area and there was another cat up there too! It was so cool!  These cats were able to look out at all the people who came and went and also escape.  I was surprised that the noise didn’t seem to bother them at all!  It was a nice touch to my afternoon to get to hang with cats.