1.-How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country (airport pickup and drop off, orientation, introduction to work, availability, other)?
The coordinator for my trip (Libardo) and at the school (Angela) were both excellent. They were friendly, punctual, and always available.
2- What was the most positive surprise you experienced?
- At the program: The trip had many positive experiences, but one of the most surprising might have been how engaged and interested the students were to learn English. They were really motivating and fun.
- At the accommodation: About the country: The people I met, both locally and in the larger city, were always cordial and willing to meet me halfway on my abilities to interact in Spanish.
3- What was most difficult/cultural shock to experience?
- At the accommodation: Everything at the accommodation was wonderful. Elena and her family are incredibly gracious, terrific food, and friendly neighborhood.
- The country: I have done a fair amount of traveling, so I'm not sure I was shocked by anything. I will say that Cartagena is a divided city in that there is a wealthy downtown district with large hotels and a commercial center, and then there is a large, much more working-class, less affluent area that can offer quite a stark comparison when you travel from one zone to the other.
4- Any tips for future volunteers, give as many details as possible:
- Clothing: Its very warm and, at least where I was, very casual dress. Bring light clothes and try to keep the brand names to a minimum.
- Weather: It is warmer and more humid than most of the US in the winter months, although they do not get much rain in the winter there. There is a constant breeze off the Caribbean, which makes it a terrific climate, if you enjoy tropical settings. The temperature dips a but at night and is pretty comfortable for sleeping. The sun is very strong during the day.
4.1-Other things volunteers should know, about what to bring, what to do in country, what to eat, transportation, other:
There is an official bus line called TransCaribe that can take you anywhere in Cartagena. There are also unofficial buses and motos and taxis that can be employed. You are not far from Barranquilla and Palenque. I would recommend seeing both, if possible. The latter has a lot of indigenous history to discover.
I didn't eat out very much, so I'm not overly familiar with the dining options. But I did bring some snacks from home (crackers and fruit snacks and things like that). However, I don't think it is necessary to do so. It is fairly easy to find supermarkets and smaller markets that sell those types of American drugstore wares.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
Overall, ABV provides a singular opportunity to experience new cultures in a manner that provides structure and contact points within that culture. You can also help to do some good, important work while you are there and contribute a bit to building more bridges between your home country and that to which you travel. I'm very grateful for this opportunity and hopeful that I can return during the summer for a longer stay. I've made some great friends and want to keep in touch with them as well as to continue to see the students grow in their studies.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals and security in detail:
The accommodation and meals were excellent. The food was prepared 3 times per day and was very healthful and delicious--typically rice, fruit, and some type of grilled protein along with juices. The overall atmosphere was clean, pleasant, and friendly. I never felt unsafe, while at the house or when traveling.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
- Program: Riding on the back of a moto to the school every day was fun and somewhat scary, but it is something I will miss. The students and Angela were great. Getting to know them and speaking with them about their lives was always enjoyable.
- Country: The country is fascinating and Cartagena is filled with many historical and cultural aspects that are worth the trip alone. Seeing the Spanish colonial fort and their older city center was part of my first night there and something I will always remember.
8.- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling, who helped you?
- Communication (Phone/emails/Online chat): The emails were clear and timely and specific. I signed up on a very quick timeline and ABV had everything sorted and arranged in short order. Nice work by the US coordinators.
- Website Information: The website is also clear and specific to each country/travel opportunity. I felt prepared when I left.
9 Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
10 Can you be specific how did you find or know about A Broader View?
I just found you thru Google. I was looking for volunteer opportunities in South or Latin America. I think that was the initial search.