A Travellerspoint blog

Our last day in Colombia

all seasons in one day 65 °F

All of us approached our last day with mixed feelings. It was a day to be with our families, both individually and together, which gladdened our hearts, but we were also sad to realize that after the day ended, we'd go back to our host families for one last night before catching our early flight out toward Tacoma.

The morning was family time. Many families started the day at the Ciclovia, a long stretch of road that is turned over to pedestrians and cyclists between 6am-2pm each Sunday. That was followed by several hours at a mercado de las pulgas (flea market) for some final shopping for souvenirs and gifts for folks at home.

At 3pm we gathered at a restaurant for lunch, CWA visitors with their host families and teachers from St. George's. The meal was full of wonderful conversations. As one can see from the photos, a good time was had by all. But as one can see from other photos from the restaurant, the fun turned to sadness when it was time to say goodbye. The "saying goodbye" process took nearly 30 minutes, with lots of hugs and more than a few tears. A few students are already plotting their strategy to be able to return to Colombia as soon as possible.

The links that have been forged over the last 2+ years between CWA and St. George's are strong, and hopefully they will endure. Certainly the new friends that have been made between the students at SGS and CWA will become lasting friendships. We live in a world today where being monocultural is quite a disadvantage, and these students, certainly, are prepared to enter an adult world in which knowledge and awareness of other languages and cultures will be at the very least a leg up, if not a virtual requirement.

Sra. Duque, Mr. King, and I all very much enjoyed leading this fine group of students to Colombia, and we got as much out of the trip as the students did. It's wonderful to be able to get to know students in a different and deeper way, something simply not possible only through contact at school.

This will likely be the last blog entry, except for a couple more that will be written by Creighton King upon his return to Tacoma; he chose to disconnect from the internet for this trip. We may also post just a few more pictures of our trip back home.

Thanks to all the CWA parents who had the confidence to send their children with us to Colombia; the trip couldn't have happened without you!

Posted by camner 18:01 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Rafting!

sunny 68 °F

Today was our day to go rafting on theRio Negro in Tóbia, about a two hour drive outside of Bogotá. As one can see from the photos on the Colombia Winterim photo site, everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.

After the rafting experience, the group was able to relax in the swimming area as well as do some hiking. Everyone returned, rather exhausted but happy, in the early evening. As one student put it, "We weren't all that jazzed about going rafting, because the Colombian kids couldn't go and we wanted to spend the day with our Colombian friends, but the rafting was outstanding and we felt different afterwards."

Posted by camner 17:54 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

The best meal ever!

all seasons in one day 68 °F

Friday morning began with a trip to Zipaquirá, the site of a cathedral carved out of a salt mine 200 meters below the surface of the earth. The afternoon took us to the town of Chia, where we enjoyed a fine meal at the Andres carnes de res restaurant. Starting as a roadside barbecue stand in in the early '80s, the restaurant has grown to a facility that accommodates over 2000 people simultaneously! The food was absolutely divine, with steaks that melted in one's mouth, fabulous sides, and luscious deserts. On the CWA SmugMug site for this trip there are some pictures of the students at the meal, but they don't do justice to the ambience there. For a better sense of what the place looks and feels like, check out this link.

While we were at the restaurant it started to rain very hard, and it came in through a roof a bit, treating us all to a light mist to accompany the meal. The trip back to school took well over an hour for what should be a 15 minute trip, due to another one of Bogotá's typical traffic jams.

On Saturday the group is off to Tóbia for the rafting experience!

It's hard to believe the trip is drawing to a close...in just a few days we'll be back in Tacoma, both glad to be in our own beds but at the same time wishing this Colombian experience was much longer.

Posted by camner 17:44 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

La Cigarra

La Cigarra is a foundation set up by the sister of the Headmaster of St. George's to help a particularly poor community outside of Bogotá. Interestingly, Carolyn Acosta, the founder of La Cigarra, lives in Federal Way! The English version of the organization's website is here.

La Cigarra means "cicada" (not to be confused with el cigarro, which means "cigar"!) La Cigarra is the name of a famous song sung by Linda Ronstadt.

Our group prepared a presentation of song and dance, and we worked with the kids in the day care center there.

Unfortunately, I was home sick (caught a bad cold from my host "dad"), so I missed the fun, but the photo site has pictures taken by Ms. Duque, some of which are truly touching.

Posted by camner 04:09 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Back in school again

all seasons in one day

Wednesday saw us back at St. George's again. As was the case on Monday, students had the choice of attending classes with their host sibling or participating in the activities the school had planned for us. As most of the host family kids had major exams during the day, most of our group chose the latter.

We began with some fun interactive language activities. The best one was doing improve in Spanish. Each group of 4 of us were given a situation and we had to turn it into a several minute skit. It's fun to see how the school is evolving in its approach to teaching languages from a very traditional straight up grammar approach to something more innovative and clearly engaging for students.

In the late morning we split into two groups to finish the projects we're taking on for the community service project on Thursday. One group went off to polish their songs, and the other group prepared the material that will be hauled up to La Cigarra to start the daycare center up there on their "vegetable wall."

The morning finished with an hour of dancing class.

After lunch, we were off to the gym for some exercise and fun activities. We, along with our host family students, were split into 7 groups which rotated through 7 different stations. One of the most enjoyable to watch (and given the looks on the faces of the participants, one of the most fun to do) was the "fighting" done with inflatable bumper balls. Here is one example of this. And here is another. How this works is that the students run full tilt at each other.

A few students had the opportunity to talk to a senior English class and compare how the two countries go about the college application process. What was most interesting was that in Colombia, one chooses a major or area of concentration BEFORE starting college and pretty much has to pursue that through to a career, like it or not. There's nothing prohibiting changing majors, but as one Colombian student put it, "It just isn't culturally acceptable. It would be seen as a waste of time, and it could be held against you in the employment search process." They seemed to think it was the ultimate of luxury to be able to spend 4 years of college deciding what one wanted to do and to change several times along the way.

Posted by camner 07:27 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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