During my last few days, the US federal government treated us as diplomats by placing us in the Movich Cartagena de Indias Small Luxury Hotel, though I am quite sure the hotel cut a deal.
The luxury of the hot notwithstanding, the educational and cultural exchange I and other TGC Fellows experienced far surpassed all my expectations. Our TGC leader, Alexandra, kept repeating the mantra that we TGC and TEA Fellows are the best educators in the country, and after spending time with my US colleagues and my Colombian counterparts, this truth finally reached home. The federal government flew us to a nation teetering on the edge. The nation-state of Colombia, now in its time of Peace instead of Violence, could ricochet into its old habits of governmental instability and chaos, or it could propel to first world status and become a trading partner with no equal in South America. The state department sent its envoy, Michael, as observer for a reason--because the US government knows that educational goals eventually translate into economic ones. The Colombian government's emphasis on English bi-lingualism could catapult Colombia into an economic powerhouse. Currently, in our Texas and New Mexico borders, all of us can see the fruits of non-labor, where violent drug cartels push parents to send their kids through Hell in order to have a remote chance at happiness.
Teachers change perceptions, improve lives, and challenge all assumptions--and teachers drive the economic engine just as much as bankers. After discussing educational policies with Colombian TEA Fellows like Gabrielle, Barbara, Guillermo, Angelica, Rosalia, the true genius of the state department clicked into place. If classrooms from two culturally disparate countries can connect, the ripple effect of increased relations will begin.
I am so blessed to be part of this process.
Welcome to My TGC Blog: Colombia.