What it’s like to volunteer in a school in Colombia

During my semester break this February I went to Barranquilla, Colombia to volunteer in a school/”colegio” as an English teacher.  Before I took my flight I was quite nervous. This experience should be the first time for me to be somewhere out of Europe. Furthermore my knowledge of Spanish at this time was really basic. That’s why I was a bit scared not to get along there.

The children I taught English were between 11 and 17 years old. I have to say that I was so impressed by the love they gave me from the first day on! When I arrived they asked me a lot about my culture, my family, which kind of music I like, what I usually do in Germany and every kind of question you can imagine. Every morning they received me with kisses on the cheeks and lovely hugs, asked me how I am doing and if I like their country.  Of course I did!

I loved to experience the contrast to my home country Germany, where most pupils usually do not like their teachers. Here in Colombia it was absolutely different. Most of the pupils were really good with their teachers. They hugged them and treated them more as friends than as teachers. Of course this also meant that there was a big difference due to the “respect and discipline” compared to Germany. For instance was it not seen as a problem when school lessons started late or when girls started to dance during class.

Firstly it was not easy for me to get used to this new culture. Fun and “fiesta” seemed to be much more important than discipline and good grades. But in retrospect I think Colombians are doing a lot of things right with this, being happy should be the highest priority for all of us.

Alongside beautiful landscapes, rich fruits and great cities Colombia has to offer, the best of all are definitely the people with their endless human warmth.

Go there to travel or best to volunteer, the only risk is wanting to stay!  <3



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