Interview With a Fellow – Jenny Deseres

Jenny is one of five fellows who is working alongside Colombian teachers here in Palmira from February to November 2016. The two of us share a house with Maxandra, from Jamaica and Karen, who is from the States.

Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Jenny and I’m originally from Michigan in the United States, but I have lived all over the United States and have also lived abroad.

Jenny with Tim, her fellow co-teacher at Cardenas Mirri?ao, Palmira
Jenny with Tim, her fellow co-teacher at Cardenas Mirrinao, Palmira

Why did you decide to volunteer on the Heart For Change/Volunteers For Colombia co-teaching programme?

I have come to love teaching over the years, and after spending some time in Asia I wanted to try teaching in a new place. South America has always seemed exciting to me, and when I heard about this program in Colombia I thought that it would be a great chance to explore South American life and culture.

Tell us a little bit about your school and co-teachers

I work at a split shift school meaning there are morning classes from 6am-12:30pm, and then a new group of students and teachers cycle in for the afternoon classes.

My co-teachers couldn’t be more accommodating. Not just my English co-teachers, but the staff in general at the school. From day one I was welcomed and made to feel at home.

Every morning I walk in to a chorus of ‘Buenos Dias” and “Good Morning” from staff and students. My English co-teachers in particular are wonderful. We try to work together for the best of the students. We learn a lot from each other and laugh a lot with each other.

What do you like most about living and working in Palmira?

It is wonderful to walk around the area within a few block radius and see familiar faces that smile at me and say hello. After years of being in bigger cities, I love the community feel of all of it.

Jenny and Tim with students at the Alcaldia, Palmira
Jenny and Tim with students at the Alcaldia, Palmira

What do you like least about living and working in Palmira?

I never know for sure what is going on. But then, that is also one of the things I love about it.

So Jenny, do you like Colombian food?

Well Simon, as a culinary expert who has traveled the world high and low searching for the best food on the planet….As a person who grew up in a family who runs a gourmet bakery….and as a lover of food in general I can honestly say without the slightest hesitation that Colombia has the best ice cream around.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about travelling to Colombia?

When travelling anywhere I would always suggest doing as much research as possible before going. And then after you do that research let go of any pre-conceived notions you may have formed.

Jenny with fellow teachers at a training session
Jenny with fellow teachers at a training session

This place is exciting and boring all at once. It is safe and comfortable and friendly while being dangerous and scary. The sun will try to kill you and the rain will try to drown you.

The people will frustrate you, they will help you, they will make you laugh, they will cut right in front of you in line, they will try to speak English with your or pretend they have no idea what you are saying when you try to use your Spanish with them.

The landscape ranges from Mountains, to coastlines, to valleys, to jungle, to deserts. The food will seem exciting and then become boring and bland except for the ice cream of course. There is no real way to prepare for this place but that is what makes it so special.

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