The Deerfield group has spent the last several days traveling with students from Los Nogales, a high school in Bogotá. In this post, Jason Han ’15 explains how much he has learned from his Los Nogales partners, and Elisa Schrader of Los Nogales describes the importance of being a cultural ambassador for Colombia. At the end of the post, the twelve other Deerfield students and one other Los Nogales student express their feelings about the day in a sentence or two:
Jason Han ’15: For the past few days, we invited five Colombian students from Los Nogales to join our trip. They have been so helpful to us, not only in our understanding of Spanish but also the culture of Colombia. Together, we visited Villa de Leyva, which is a beautiful colonial town full of life.
Without the Colombian students, our scavenger hunt would not have been as smooth as it was. Deerfield students had to go around Villa de Leyva and ask numerous questions about the history, economy, and environment of the town. Sometimes, when asking questions and communicating with them, we could not understand what they were saying because of the lack of vocabulary and the fast pace of the Spanish speakers. When this happened, the Nogales students decided to enter the conversation and help us. Even though I had some difficulty understanding everything, everyone was extremely patient with me and, because of this, I was able to successfully answer many questions and gain a greater understanding of Villa de Leyva. I am going to miss these students who made our experience in Colombia much more valuable.
Elisa Schrader of Los Nogales: Being a Colombian student traveling with the Deerfield group, I feel that it has been a great learning experience not only for the Deerfield students, but also for me and my classmates. We have been able to show a little part of our country and in only two days we have been able to see how our new friends are willing to open their minds to the reality of our country, ignoring any prejudgment that they might have had before the trip.
Today, for example, we were able to bond with them on a challenging hike up a mountain in which we all helped each other, so that we would pick each other up every time someone stumbled or give a hand when climbing a big step. At the end, even though we didn’t get to see the lagoon that we planned on seeing, we were able to enjoy an amazing and unforgettable view from the peak of the mountain. Although my classmates and I will only get the chance of accompanying this group for three days, we can all agree on the fact that even though they may not be coming back anytime soon, the Deerfield students are certainly going to leave with a completely different view than that which most of the world has of us.
Andrew Hollander ’16: The best part of today’s hike was everyone working together as a group to get up and down the mountain, especially during the rainstorm.
Helena Tebeau ’17: Suddenly the fog receded and I first glanced at the view from the top of the mountain; the landscape of hills overgrown by trees made the group gasp in wonder. All the hard work paid off.
Serena Ainslie ’16: While I thought that turning back before reaching the lagoon would leave me disappointed, I was only proud of myself and my group for working together so well and grateful for the beautiful view from our own summit.
Maggie Kidder ’16: On the first day of being in Bógota, I was in the elevator when a native Colombian began to ask me questions and we had a conversation. I was surprised by how much he genuinely cared about helping me with Spanish, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how nice and encouraging the other native Colombians have been in regards to engaging in conversation and helping me with Spanish.
Ryan Collins ’15: As I was talking to a local storeowner in the village, I realized that she didn’t have an answer to one of the historical questions I was asking, but a man sitting on a bench behind us said he knew the answer to my question and would be more than happy to talk. I had seen the same man earlier and was somewhat scared to approach him, but as we talked I realized how genuinely friendly the people in the village are, which was amazing to witness.
Ana Duzan (Student from Los Nogales): At first it was a little bit awkward being with all these foreigners in the same room, but after meeting them things got less awkward, and I got to meet really cool people.
Lucy Beimfohr ’17: After our trip to Villa de Levya yesterday, we took some time to listen to music, talk about our lives and “chillear” with the Los Nogales students. It was interesting to see how much we had in common in spite of our cultural differences.
Kofi Adu ’16: I was very surprised of how the people of Villa de Villya treated us. Not only were they welcoming and friendly, but they wanted us to come back and live in their town.
Megan Retana ’15: As the man dreamily gazed at the warm, glowing lights that surrounded the darkening plaza, he said, “Something always brings me back to Villa de Leyva. It is…magical. Don’t you feel it?” Yes.
Ileana Glyptis ’16: Even after rain that caused you to look down, the view the second you’re able to look up makes enduring the rain worth it.
Caroline Pappas ’17: When I arrived in Villa de Leyva, I was enchanted by my first impression, with its quaint houses and friendly feel. Upon talking to the natives, I discovered that the people were just as friendly and helpful as my first impression of the village.
Phillip Chung ’16: The people of Villa de Leyva received us with lots of kindness, which was different from my perception of their view on foreigners, and I came away from this experience with a personal goal of returning this respect.
Bri’ana Odom ’15: Not much time had passed before my body was letting me know through cramping and sweating that the Iguaque hike would be the most challenging experience of my life, thus far, both mentally and physically. Words can’t express how proud I am of myself and fellow teammates for not only finishing the hike but finishing it together.