Category Archives: Laura Blasena

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – “The Native Speaker” – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – “The Native Speaker” – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

I will be leaving my university before the end of the Fulbright grant period.

Among other personal reasons is the main reason that I am unhappy with my university; I am more than a native English-speaking “object”. I am a teacher, and (quite strangely) nobody seems willing to allow me to teach.

While this isn´t the experience of every English teacher in Bogota, it is the experience that I have had during my time here. There is an overwhelming desire that many people have in Bogota to learn English, practice English, and speak in English. The students who are dedicated to the idea of learning English often take supplemental private classes outside of their required university courses.

There is, however, in my opinion a very positive bias towards people who are native speakers of English.

LauraNative1

I am a licensed Spanish teacher in the United States. It means that I know how to teach Spanish and, when my skills are stripped down to their fundamental level, I understand a little bit about how to teach language in general. I´m not a trained English teacher. The only claim to competence that I have is a mash up of my Spanish teaching skills and the fact that I´ve spoken English for the entirety of my twenty-two year life.

Bogota is full of people who teach English, many of whom have less of a claim to competence than I do. That´s not bad. There´s certainly a necessity for English teachers no matter how skilled in teaching they are. However, the majority of the people I’ve met in Colombia never seem to mind whether somebody is a trained English teacher or simply a native speaker–in fact, it is usually only the “native speaker of English” that seems to be important.

LauraNative2

As I visited more and more classes at my university, there seemed to be a common theme: It didn´t particularly matter if my lessons were good, if the students were engaged, or if the students even paid attention. What mattered was that I was a native speaker and that the students got to hear me speak. The students asked me all generic questions (“Where are you from?”,“Are you married?”, “Do you have a boyfriend?”, “What do you look for in a Colombian man?”), and then whether or not I taught a lesson seemed irrelevant to both the professor and the students. I was the “native-speaker” from the States who talked and looked different. The professors complained if I didn´t visit every single one of the 110 English classes because it was so important for the students to just “meet me”, and the students seemed to feel in many cases that simply having me say things at them with no structure, scaffolding, or goal, would magically increase their English skills.

Those of you that are native speakers of English, do you feel like you could teach a class on English grammar right now? Modal verbs? Auxiliary verbs? Past participles? I´ve been teaching in Bogota for six months and I still stumble over English grammar. Deep down, I don´t feel qualified and I feel like I´m a bad teacher, but nobody cares because I´m a native speaker of English.

I was confused about the whole process until a student came to my tutoring hours. When I told him that I would be returning to the United States soon, he was crestfallen and explained that he wanted the opportunity “to talk with a native speaker”. He went on to explain that he was taking English courses at another school and he thought he was learning a lot “because there are no more than six students in a class”, but he didn´t like the classes because it was taught by a Colombian, somebody who wasn´t a native speaker of English. He explained that the reason that he refused to speak English to me was that his school had never given him the opportunity to speak to a native speaker. Therefore, he wasn’t prepared despite the fact that we had communicated extensively in English through Facebook Messenger.

LauraNative3

(A lot of my university students in Colombia have taken the same English course again and again through Elementary and High School. It’s the same basic topics, similar to how many students in the United States take many years of (usually) Spanish and learn the same things. The only difference is that English classes in Colombia are influenced by the fact that the government has set a deadline for everyone in the country to be bilingual.)

To me, there seems to be a widely held perception that native English speakers can magically impart the English language unto any person that bothers to pay for private classes. In order to learn English, you must sign up for English classes, and the English classes must fulfill two components: 1) they must have as few students as possible, preferably only one, and 2) the teacher must be a native speaker. If these two components are not met, the perception is that a student must travel to the United States or England to learn the language through immersion. When students come to my tutoring hours, which are designed as times where they can bring homework or projects that they tend to never complete, they don´t bring ideas or homework to work on. They simply stare at me and tell me to teach them things like “verbs” or “United States English” and listen as I say things to them. At the end, they tell me that they feel they’ve learned a lot.

It’s a very strange experience.

At first, I felt “objectified” in a certain way by my students and by my university. I was literally being asked to simply go around and greet students and my suggestions for lessons and improvements to my schedule were pooh-poohed and deemed irrelevant. At the same time, it’s easy to understand why a native speaker is conferred so much seemingly supernatural and sometimes undeserved power and desirability. The English language is heavily propagandized in Colombia. Every single one of my students, every professor, every person that I met on the street, waiter I spoke to in a restaurant, and taxi driver that drove me to and from the airport could tell me that English was incredibly important and necessary for their career advancement. The issue is that in many cases it simply isn’t necessary, but in a country that has a massive national program for creating a Spanish/English bilingual population it’s very easy to repeat the idea that you’ve been taught since you were a small child.

LauraNative4

(When I am not there, the students at Aguadulce learn English through repetitive translation work. Unfortunately, they sometimes are taught the wrong words. For example, in this translation the word atractivo means sexy instead of attractive. I was very confused why 5th graders were using the word sexy.)

About our special correspondent and senior editor Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Laura Blasena, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Trash Collection – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Trash Collection – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

When our cleaning lady decided to take a week off after Christmas, I and the fourteen other people living it the house from which I currently rent a room ran into a problem: the trash was piling up. For some of my house mates, that doesn’t seem to matter. For me, however, this was a problem. I wanted to take the trash out, but the problem was that I didn’t know how.

lauratrash1

(Note the lovely collection of garbage and recyclables in the garbage can. Separating recyclables and garbage was not a thing in any of the buildings where I lived or in any of the schools where I worked or volunteered.)

In Bogota, there are no universal trash or recycling binds that are distributed throughout the city. In fact, there is almost no such thing as recycling bins. Recycling is a very new concept and it tends not to turn out so well when only a small fraction of the city is aware of what recycling is. I’ve seen students quietly deliberating as they stare at the recycling bins at my university before quickly dumping all of the leftover food into the recycling bin, leaving the paper plate and plastic cup in the trash.

lauratrash2

(In Leticia (the Amazon region of Colombia), trash collection seemed to be a bit more universal in the small city. There were also many more campaigns advertising recycling and the proper disposal of trash.)

Instead of a universal system for trash removal, the system seems to be as follows: trash bags are left outside of houses, on the side of the road, on street corners–so long as they are all placed in a somewhat central pile, it seems–and are then collected by trucks or individual sanitation workers who lug around a small cart to collect trash.

lauratrash3

(In Salento, all of the trash in the city is collected and deposited nearby the public baseball field.)

This works to a fault. There are a few elements of Bogota that make this process more complicated.

There are many homeless people on the streets of Bogota. For many of these homeless people, the one readily available source of food can be found in the flimsy plastic bags of trash that are left out on street corners throughout the week. While the plastic trash bags may be set out in a neat pile, within a matter of hours they will be shredded to piece, sorted through, and discarded.

lauratrash4

(Note the single lone trash bag sitting out at the edge of the park outside of the house where I live.)

Those that choose to sort through the plastic bags are in search of two things: leftover food and recyclables. The food is very obvious. Entire plates of food, half eaten fruits, and only slightly rotting produce is discarded every day, and the homeless are able to take advantage of it. The recyclables are collected for money. Near garbage collection days, the streets will be full of people lugging carts packed high with cardboard, wood, plastic, and papers.

About our special correspondent and senior editor Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – “It’s Not Bad, It’s Just Different …” – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – “It’s Not Bad, It’s Just Different …” – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

LauraDiff1

I work with another organization that pairs individuals that are studying or working throughout the world with elementary school classes in the United States. I signed up for the program because I loved the idea; I could help educate a class of young students about another country, discussing topics like stereotypes, culture, and addressing differences between people and countries.

For my first article that I had to write about the program, we were asked to describe the place that we were living. There were prompts–weather, currency, prices, and nature found throughout the city–and then there were more open-ended questions that we were allowed to answer as we pleased based on what seemed important to us. For one of them, I chose to discuss the fact that I had discovered I was having extreme allergic reactions to the pollution in Bogota. It allowed me to talk about the recent push to replace the Transmilenio buses with new “eco-friendly” or electric buses and the fact that, though called “eco-friendly”, many of the buses continued to contribute to pollution.

LauraDiff2

(The university where I work.)

This seemed very commonplace to me. I was discussing the fact that a city in another country struggled with pollution, a problem that many large cities around the world

When my editor sent me revision notes, I was a bit bothered by the fact that she had chosen to remove the entire section of my article that talked about pollution in Bogota. She explained that my paragraph about pollution was too negative. I should just focus on the different eco-friendly movements and I shouldn’t focus at all on the pollution. In her words, I was going to make the young students “prejudiced” against Bogota if I portrayed it in a negative light.

Here’s my issue with that: Even though they may be young, elementary students aren’t incapable of critical thinking.

Critical thinking may be a difficult skill to develop, but that doesn’t mean that it should be avoided. Rather, it should be focused on. The United States education system definitely has its faults, but one thing that I loved about all the classrooms that I’ve worked in is that the environment of education stressed the importance of critical thinking and independent thought processing.

LauraDiff3

(The office that I’m allowed to use at work is shared by seven other professors.)

I didn’t want to give the students that I had been paired with a “dumbed down” portrayal of another country. Yes, it is true that in the past (and the present) the United States as a country have been prone to broadcasting the idea of the United States as ultimately “good” and other countries as “lacking” or “bad”, but that doesn’t mean that in order to make up for this incorrect portrayal of the world that we should swing the pendulum to the complete opposite. The organization that I was working with was asking me to portray everything about other countries as incorruptibly “good”.

A friend of mine taught me a phrase that she used when working with elementary students in an exchange program that brought students back and forth across the US-Mexico border. “It’s not bad, it’s just different”.

After living in various countries throughout her life, my friend shared the amended version that she had created from that phrase she was told to use in her job. “Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s bad.”

Sometimes things that are “different” are bad–an idea that in itself seems a bit negative because it’s only talking about negatives. What’s important to take out if is that the cultures of ALL countries have positives and negatives. Looking at entire countries with a dichotomy of black and white, good and bad, is like trying to use the phrase “It’s not bad, it’s just different” because it doesn’t allow for instances when certain norms– sexism, racism, etc.– are different and also not particularly desirable.

To me, being asked to show students an overly positive picture of living in Bogota that stripped away all things even slightly negative was both incorrect and inefficient. In trying to correct the fact that for so long the United States has created a dichotomy of good and bad and placed itself in the good category, the organization was asking me to create another dichotomy of good and bad and place anything that was “different” in the good category. While it was an attempt to fix a stereotype that many people believe, in the end I was still presenting the students with a dichotomy instead of an opportunity to critically examine differences and understand WHY, in many cases, that things that are different are not always bad.

About our special correspondent and senior editor Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – The carnival of Pasto – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – The carnival of Pasto – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

LauraPasto2

(Most floats are incredibly tall and detailed like this one. They may look solid, but when you see them up close you may notice where some of the Styrofoam has been ripped away by somebody in the crowd or simply by the float being in use.)

After playing in the Steel Band at St. Scholastica, it was always Trinidad and Tobago that came to mind when somebody mentioned Carnival. In reality, there are many Carnival celebrations that take place in Central and South America, from the massive celebration in Rio de Janeiro to the smaller, but nationally recognized Colombian celebration of Carnival in Barranquilla.

I never intended to visit the massive Barranquilla celebration, so as part of my travels during my university’s semester break in January, I and two friends decided to spend a few days in Pasto, a city an hour or two´s drive from the Ecuadorian border. The city is fairly quiet and un-discussed the majority of the year, but it springs to life in the beginning of January for their own Carnival celebration. (Locally, it´s called Carnival, but nationally it´s recognized as the Feria de los blancos y negros or Fair of the Blacks and Whites).

LauraPasto1

(It’s usually Ecuador that’s known for cuy (guinea pig), but many of the foods in Pasto and southern Colombia are influenced by the proximity of Ecuador. There are many restaurants in the city that specialize in cuy!)

The city boasts a massive parade on January 6th that matches many of the large fairs and Carnival celebrations in cities all over Colombia later in the year. There are massive floats made out of styrofoam and electric neon paint, as well as large masks that marchers carry through the day-long parade as they dance through the streets. The amount of work that goes into the parades is impressive and results are gorgeous!

For the few days before the parade, everybody in the city dons ponchos, ski goggles, face masks, sweatshirts, and large hooded parkas to protect themselves because the streets are full of people spraying foam, throwing white dust, and trying to draw on your face. It sounds super fun! We brought all of the necessary equipment (including an excited attitude) the first night that we arrived in the city, and after thirty minutes walking through the streets we realized something shocking–to us, it wasn’t fun!

I had found myself caught in a similar type of festival earlier the year in Girardot, a very hot city a three hour bus ride outside of Bogota, and the experience had been super fun! Everybody in the city had bottles of foam that they were spraying at each other. Everybody that owned a motorcycle was out on the street, covered in foam, the person on the back of the motorcycle armed with their own bottle of foam. It was fun!

However, when it came to the festival in Pasto, there was something about it that made it difficult for us to join in with the festivities.

To begin with, people aim at your face. That in itself is okay because you can put on sunglasses and pull up your hood, but people would run at us and rip off our hoods, grab our hair, and, in some cases, pull off our sunglasses as they sprayed directly in our faces. It´s not my definition of fun. For some people it is, but I´ve never been in a situation where it is permissible to run at a random stranger anywhere in the city and throw things at them when they´re shouting “No!¨. It was very different than what I was used to!

LauraPasto3

(Note how the foam is primarily inside the hood of my poncho.)

The other aspect of the Pasto Carnival that made me feel unnerved was that the primary people enjoying the opportunity to spray foam and throw dust were not what I would assume was the “intended audience”. When little kids, children, families, or a group of good-natured adults spray foam at you and laugh as you retaliate in kind, it´s a fun experience! However, the streets were full of large groups of early and late twenties men who I often witnessed ganging up on a single person, including little kids.

My friends and I decided to make our time in Pasto short, and we took every opportunity possible to see sites around Pasto such as a famous gothic cathedral and a peaceful glacial lagoon that is used for trout farming. (Though, while driving back from the lagoon we had a mob of thirty-some people attack our van, rip open the door, spray foam inside of the car, and then pull our friend out of the van.) In a few of the vans, we overheard other passengers discussing how they no longer visited Pasto during Carnival because they thought it no longer had the “spirit” of past years.

I´d like to say that we had a wonderful time at the Carnival, but, even after “fully-engaging” and going all out on foam and protective gear, it was inevitably not quite what we were expecting. However, it was still an experience! I can now say that I visited Pasto during the famed Feria de los blancos y negros.

LauraPasto4

(Pasto itself is a beautiful city!)

About our special correspondent and senior editor Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Health Deliveries – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Health Deliveries – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

In terms of health, my term in Colombia has been horribly unsuccessful.

In the first few months after I arrived, I thought that my awful allergic reactions to the pollution in Bogota (that my body was not accustomed to) was me somehow developing asthma. In the Amazon, I caught a less severe form of dengue fever. After returning to Bogota for the second semester of classes in late January, one of my mosquito bites got horribly infected and my throat was once again infected by polluted air in Bogota.
Laurahealth1
(The medical supply stores in Bogota often features manikins wearing surgical clothing or scrubs.)

I´d like to say that this means I´ve become a pro at navigating the health systems in Bogota, but the truth is that I have very little idea how they operate. When I first started suffering from allergies, I went to the emergency room at a massive hospital a few blocks away from my first apartment. I had no idea how to call a doctor or locate a smaller clinic, so I decided a hospital was my best course of action. After waiting six hours in the waiting room, I changed my mind.

We in Bogota are very lucky because the insurance that we are given through the Fulbright program allows us to take advantage of a very nice opportunities: domicilios.

Domicilios are deliveries. In Bogota, you can have almost anything delivered to your house. The amount of restaurants that will make a “house delivery” is overwhelming, and they stretch well beyond the normal pizza and Chinese takeout options to include places that serve stereotypical Colombian lunches, sandwiches, fried chicken, beer, and just about anything you can think of. When you order something online in Bogota, you´re often actually ordering a domicilio of the item and a man on a motorcycle will show up at your front door the next morning with the item in a ridiculously large box.

Domicilios include medical care.
Laurahealth2
(I used to leave in a neighborhood full of medical supply stores. I walked past “for sale” dentist chairs every morning.)

After calling, giving your insurance and ID information, describing your symptoms, and providing an address, a doctor or nurse practitioner will show up at your house between fifteen minutes and an hour and a half later. The exam is usually minimal, but will always be followed by the same things:

First, the doctor will offer you an injection of something to help with pain or swelling, but usually pain. Second, the doctor will write out a very, very long list of medications for you to take.

The few times that I´ve gotten a medical domicillio, I´ve received a list of at least four different medication to take. When I had an infected mosquito bite, I was told to ask the pharmacist for a topical antibiotic, an oral antibiotic, some sort of foot-soaking salts, and a pain medication–and all of these medications were supposed to be taken for two whole weeks. When I was suffering from allergies, I was prescribed a pain medication, a medication for my throat, drops for my ears, drops for my eyes, and a secondary pain medication.
Laurahealth3
(Another fashionable mannequin modeling the latest in medical wear.)

The medications are a little bit more intense than what I´m accustomed to receiving in the United States.

Regardless of how different medical services may seem to me, those of us that are placed in Bogota are fortunate enough to have easy access to medical care. In some of the other, more rural cities in Colombia, the assistants do not have access to a properly equipped hospital that is less than a three to four hour bus ride away.

About our special correspondent and senior editor Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Laura Blasena, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang