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Saludos from Colleen

Hola equipo!

Today I’m writing you all from the cloud forests of Colombia, South America- the country I’ve called home for nearly the past 3 years.

In June of 2018, I left the more formal classroom after seven years of teaching high school- amidst small-town Arkansas’s sweltering cotton fields, the bustling high-tech city of Seoul, South Korea, and finally Bucaramanga, the peaceful city of parks and adrenaline-filled outdoor sports in northeast central Colombia.

My favorite part of teaching has always been building relationships with my students and carving out learning opportunities relevant to our everyday lives. I am passionate about social justice. Together my students and I have examined gender roles in memoirs like the House on Mango Street, and racism and classism in classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby.

More recently, I’ve been won over by the joys of traveling with and learning alongside young people outside the four walls of a physical classroom. I myself have learned so much traveling and sharing time with people in South America this year. Peru has captivated me- from treks that wind through farmland, small villages, alongside nearly listerine blue lakes, and beneath crackling glaciers to seemingly more simple moments- cooking with a newfound group of friends and trading words for ingredients in Spanish and English. Everyday I’m reminded of how much there is to learn. I try to appreciate the kindness of strangers, to see people less as strangers and more as friends. I want to continue a practice of being in the present moment and of being aware of how my identity shapes all of my interactions and experiences while I travel.

I can’t wait to continue this growth with you all. We will be awed by Peru’s diverse landscapes, humbled by its history, and inspired by the new friendships we will undoubtedly forge along the way. Even the difficult moments – the homesickness, the language barriers, the sore feet – will shape us into stronger, more patient people.

Hasta pronto y con mucha anticipación desde América del Sur,

Colleen 🙂