Our October 2014 graduate Michelle Gilman has been living in Colombia since shortly after finishing her course. She sent us an update of all her adventures! Congratulations on the new position Michelle!
“I have been hired as a regional coordinator for two departments of Colombia. So I’ll manage the foreign teachers for my program, Heart for Change which is a non profit and has a “convenio” with the Colombian ministry of education. I have been living in Duitama, Boyacá. Which is about 3 hours from bogota. Boyacá is a department which is known to be one of the most progressive and hardworking in Colombia. Everyone does work very hard, even my doctor has about 4 jobs. The people are also very “su merce” … As in your majesty. They are really polite and close with each other. This made me feel very welcome and comfortable with living there. Right away they treated me like family. As a small city (of only about 100,000), there are almost no expats there. Because of this, the locals were very intrigued by me and I befriended almost everyone my age that I met.
I was teaching in the biggest public “colegio” which was a double session school grades 0-11 with over 4,000 students. Crazy. I taught 9,10,11 graders. Each class had about 30-35 students and I taught with a Colombian co-teacher in every class. We worked together to plan and teach the classes.
On the weekends and days off, I found myself traveling a lot. By Colombian standards I was pretty close to Bogota so it was easy to fly to the amazon and the coast. Or I also would stay in bogota for the weekend with friends. Free time in duitama was spent at a gym which I loved as it was cross fit style with a great trainer. There is also gorgeous mountains and lakes in the area so I spent some time hiking and exploring Boyacá.
Duitama is definitely recommended for those looking for the authentic Colombian cultural experience, not those looking for a party or festivals in the street. Here you’ll get the real taste of the interior / Andes culture.
As I start my new position as coordinator I will move to villa de leyva in Boyacá. This is a small colonial village with certainly more expats and tourists than anywhere else in the region. During the week it is very low key and quiet. On the weekends it comes to life with visitors and also hosts many festivals throughout the year due to its massive central plaza.”