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Intern Insight : Aimee's Internship Experience in Colombia


Aimee's internship experience in Colombia

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Ko Ngā Kohatu Whakarakaraka o Tamatea Pokai whenua te maunga

Ko Õpāwaho te awa

No Õtautahi ahau

Ko Herenga Waka toku kura

Ko Aimee toku ingoa

No reira

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

 

My name is Aimee Tang and I am from Christchurch, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

 

At the end of January 2020, I was extremely lucky to join the team at aeioTu, an NGO based in Bogota. aeioTu works to improve early childhood education (ECE) with the ultimate goal of alleviating poverty in Colombia and other Latin American countries. Within the team of around 30 working from the main office, there were teachers, psychologists, graphic designers, accountants, fundraisers, and facilitators of international alliances all working together to deliver high quality ECE based on the Regio Emilia pedagogy.


Group of interns in Colombia

My day-to-day routine always started with a coffee, actually my entire day was constantly punctuated by coffee; they had free and delicious hot filter coffee in the staff kitchen at all times of the day - life was great. Apart from drinking coffee, one of my main tasks was to research the policies, legislation and programme delivery of early childhood education throughout Latin America, then to write a comparative report capturing ECE systems abroad. This meant a lot of reading and researching before deciding the best way to communicate this to an audience. I was also involved in the delivery of an online workshop at an international conference that was moved to Zoom at the last minute (this was the first time I had ever heard of Zoom - who knew it would become the most popular new artist of 2020?) Unfortunately, my time was cut short due to the arrival of Covid-19 but the 2 months I had was incredible and since then it has proved to be an incredible stepping stone for my career. In 2022, I started my dream job with the team that looks after New Zealand's international relationships; as overseas experience was a must, I am positive this internship helped me to secure this position.


Life for everyone had changed so much since my unexpected early return from Colombia, and I am SO grateful I took the opportunity to go when I did. Before arriving, I actually had no idea what to expect of Colombia - like many other foreigners, my knowledge of Colombia was heavily influenced by television shows and films. However, the few friends that I had talked to who had been there could not speak highly enough of the warmth of the people, the beauty of the landscape, and the vivacity of the cities - they were not wrong. The people of Colombia were vibrant, kind, and wonderful, and life in Bogota was exciting every day. I was so lucky to be invited to the home of one of my colleagues Sara, to meet her wonderful sister Alexis and her lovely mum Mary. They helped me to practice my Spanish (Colombian people speak very clear Spanish - ideal for learning), taught me how to make patacones and played Colombian board games with me - I am sure we would have had many more outings together had Covid-19 not showed up. Colombia was full of surprises - people dipped their ham sandwiches in their coffees, brought huge three course meals to work (lunch is the main meal there) and the game tejo (google it - it involves gunpowder and beer). Something I had not expected (due to my knowledge being wanting) was hearing the hardship that the people of Colombia have endured over the years - it has not been long since their long and brutal civil war ended and people continue to fight for justice, especially in the smaller towns and cities where violence still mars the lives of many. Huge protests that stopped the city happened regularly, but I never felt unsafe there - the people were alive and fighting for their liberty. Learning Colombia's history made me all the more awed by the attitudes of the people I met and is just one of the things that makes going there such a rich experience.  

 

If you are thinking about signing up with Intern Colombia, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I was so impressed with Matt and Camila (now Catalina) and the team - it's not often you have your interview with the head of the company, but this totally set the tone for the whole experience. I was picked up at the airport, Matt came with me to work on my first day, and the job and accommodation he organised was ideal. To future interns, I would say to definitely get involved in the Intern Colombia social outings, don't be afraid to also organise your own outings, and travel around Colombia as much as you can (you never know when all of the airports in the world will shut down!) I had so much fun with the other Intern Colombia interns and over the course of a few short weeks, I made friendships I know I will have for life.


If you are wanting to learn Spanish, there is nothing like being immersed in it every day to actually apply the things you are learning. If you are not looking to learn Spanish, you should still go to Colombia! There is so much to learn and experience there and I can't wait for the day I will return.

 

If you would like to know more about Colombia or what it's like to do an internship abroad in Colombia.


Please contact a member of our team.


This blog post was published by Intern Colombia on February 1 2024 and written by our Intern Colombia Alumna - Aimee. This post has only been edited for grammatical purposes.



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