martes, 27 de diciembre de 2011

Christmas in Colombia

Hope you all are enjoying your holidays!  Just thought I'd share a little bit about my Christmas here in Colombia. 

In Colombia they celebrate Christmas on the 24th and we arrived at the Christmas dinner at...drumroll please...10pm!   At every Colombian party I have been to we set up a lot of plastic chairs and sit in a big circle drinking and talking...although after awhile the dancing ensues! (Although not by me the boyfriend points which I reply that I have no idea how to dance!).  I have dubbed this the Colombian Circle.

At around 11:30 the presents were set under the tree and the sleeping children were woken to open them.  

The lovely host family I am living with were kind enough give me a few gifts as well...all accessories! They know me well :)  Check out the bling in my ears, on my ring finger and in my hair!

At midnight everyone stood and said a prayer and began to eat dinner.  We were the second people to leave the party and got home at 4am!  I'm not sure who has seen the Christmas Modern Family, but my sister-in-law told me that they made the whole show about people getting punk'd on Christmas in Colombia.  That tradition is actually about Dia de Los Inocentes on December 28th (April Fools Dayesque). HOWEVER, I will say that my host brother got me so good on Christmas Eve!!!  There's is another volunteer staying with a host family that is related to mine, so we see each other at family occasions.  He was at dinner with me and my host brother told us that it's tradition to sing the Colombian National Anthem at midnight.  Well, after a few drinks, I got quite excited about this because we all learned the Anthem to sing at our Swearing-In Ceremony.  So Mike and I start singing...and only Mike and I start singing!  No fair to punk the people who have no idea what's going on!!! But a good laugh was had by all...even us :)

On the 25th, after sleeping in quite a bit and talking with the family, most of the volunteers got together and had a Christmas potluck!  We all decided that it certainly didn't start feeling like Christmas till we were all together.  Everybody made amazing food and it was so nice to spend some time on Christmas with the gringos!  All of our host families couldn't figure out why we were all getting together on the 25th...Christmas for them was already over!

Hope you all are enjoying the holidays and I'll blog again soon :)

domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2011


When I first heard about the Peace Corps I was in high school and remember being truly struck by what a remarkable idea it was and what an amazing experience it could be.  However, I was quick to dismiss the thought of me joining the Peace Corps. I really and truly thought it was something I would never be capable of accomplishing, being barely brave enough to face high school each and every day.  Well, a lot has changed since high school (thank god!), and after pushing myself for years, living abroad and volunteering in many capacities around the world, after an application process of well over a year and training for two months here in Colombia, I've finally done it! December 14, 2001 I took the oath of a Peace Corps Volunteer, the same oath that the President takes at his swearing in, and accomplished a life-long dream.

Colombia was actually one of the first countries that Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in in 1961 shortly after Kennedy's memorable call to action. However, in 1981, due to safety concerns for the volunteers Peace Corps was forced to close the Colombia program.  After 30 years PC has started rebuilding the Colombia program here along the coast.  Two groups of Response Volunteers, volunteers who have already served their 2(+) years in other Peace Corps posts and have responded to a need the Peace Corps has, have worked hard to build the cornerstone of the TEL (Teaching English for Livlihoods) program.  However, the 22 of us who swore in together, were the first to do so in Colombia in 30 years!  This milestone also happened to align with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps.  Due to all of these circumstances, we had the pleasure of having Stacy Rhodes, Peace Corps Chief of Staff, fly in from Washington to attend our swearing-in Ceremony.  Along with Stacy the Governor of the Department, the Mayor of Barranquilla, and the US Abassador were all in attendance. Kinda a big deal!

PC Country Director of Colombia, PC Chief of Staff, Governor of Atlantico, US Ambassador to Colombia, Mayor of Barranquilla, and RPCVolunteer who served in the very first group to Colombia
 Due to the many important political figures in the room and the growing interest in bilingualism in Colombia, there was quite the media presence!  There were several newspaper articles written about the ceremony and all of our smiling faces were on the television news as well! For any of you spanish speaking folk, feel free to check out this link from the biggest Barranquilla newspaper:

 Long story short, it was an amazing day and I could not be happier living and serving in Colombia.  I let the pictures of before and after the ceremony do the rest of the talking!

Front row seat!!

Traditional Colombia Folklore band that played the Colombian National Anthem (which all of us rocked if I do say so myself). One of the band members did an amazing version of the Star Spangled Banner using ONLY a leaf.  Seriously. Mind blowing, I know!

All of the host families were in attendance!  My mother is in the red dress and black shirt in the middle, my host brother is to the right and his lovely wife is sitting between me and him. Another volunteer, Mike is in the shirt and tie all the way to the left.  His host family and my host family are related...somos familiares!

Goofy pic : P
Well loved ones, once again thanks for reading!  We are on vacation for two weeks for the holiday season, although I volunteered to teach English classes during the vacation...I can't help it!  Starting on the 2nd of Jan. we have two more weeks of classes/training before I move to Cartagena on the 15th!

Lots of love.