In their second blog update, our Empowerment through English Initiative (EEI) teachers Anna and Samantha share some of their experiences from their past six weeks in Medellín.
Hello from beautiful Medellín, Colombia!
We are excited to officially share a little bit of our life here with all of our CBOB family. It seems impossible that it’s only been six weeks since we first arrived in the city of eternal spring, but we have been extremely busy getting to know our new home, the foundation and, of course, the wonderful scholars!
Currently, we are teaching English twice a week to the girls at the hogar and the rest of our time is dedicated to working with each of the scholars. Aside from that, we are busy doing research for the IAMCBOB program as well as for the Bound For Peace service trips. It is safe to say that we have been learning something new every day that we are here.
There are two groups of girls we work with at the hogar twice a week. Our first group in the morning are 20 energetic, silly, and excited little ones ranging from ages 5 - 10. We have been working with them on learning and mastering the English alphabet, colors, numbers, introductory phrases, states of emotion and much more. This group loves to learn songs in English, play games, and do puzzles! They are learning so much so quickly and especially enjoy when we get to simultaneously do art projects and learn English at the same time!
In the afternoon we have 11 older girls ranging from age 11 - 16 who are all so wonderfully unique and fun to work with in their own way. Our biggest goal with them is to work on establishing a strong foundation in English. In their regular school classes they are already learning basic English concepts. We’ve been able to help them to start making sense of the language, and have been challenging them with grammar, new vocabulary and listening and speaking practice. While we have several goals for our work with them, we are hoping that by the end of our time they will have the confidence to speak in full sentences, and be able to express what they think and how they feel. If nothing else, we are hoping that this prepares them for their English classes in schoolt. We love teaching them lyrics to songs they already know in English and helping them realize that they can master basic grammar if they try!
The past six weeks have been a wonderful combination of familiarizing the girls with the English language and building their confidence in a second language. They are, slowly but surely, realizing that it’s possible to understand and communicate with someone whose native language is different, even if it’s difficult! But it’s been so much more than that. We’ve been focusing our efforts on how we can intentionally build community with them - how we can support them, love them and establish a solid rapport with not only the girls, but with their caretakers, the professor and nuns that take care of them. We know how lucky we are to be so welcomed by them, and we feel that they are teaching us so much about ourselves. We are so excited to see how much they’ve learned by May, and the bar has already been set so high.
The four scholars, or as we like to call them our little brothers, have been the biggest blessing since arriving to Medellín! We’re fortunate enough that we get to spend time with them individually and as a group every week. Each of them has their own work style, their own dreams, and their own ways of looking at the world. As much as we’ve served as mentors to them during our time here, they have given us, and each other, so much back in return. We’ve grown to understand how each of them serves as a piece of the larger puzzle that is CBOB - they have shown us that their passion and dedication for the program is unwavering, despite any obstacles that they might encounter. We spend our CBOB time with them talking about goals, talking about ways we want to improve ourselves, and the city that we all love. We also have been practicing English with each of them, and they all are improving so much every time we meet! To say we are proud of them is a huge understatement!
We’re also excited to announce that as a team, the six of us, with the help of the Board of Directors, have been working diligently on interviewing potential new scholars here in Medellín. We are all looking forward to having a new brother or sister on our team.
In our opinion, the only way to really know your new home is to actively seek out and understand the people who call themselves natives, or in the case of Medellín, Paisas. One of the best parts of our experience here so far has been getting to know each of the scholar’s families. They have all been incredible hosts taking us to their homes, introducing us to their community and their neighborhoods, and in general sharing a huge part of their lives with us. It is without question that they have made us feel like a part of their family from the minute we arrived. Being able to understand their lives outside of CBOB and school has been an amazing opportunity that we have definitely not taken for granted.
With the two months that follow we are excited to see the girls improve their English, see our goals with each of the scholars play out, and ultimately find a new scholar! We fully anticipate new experiences, new surprises and, of course, new challenges that every great CBOB opportunity always brings.
With lots of CBOB love,
Anna & Samantha