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11 Reasons to stay away from Colombia Bilingue/Fellowship

 
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ChewyB



Joined: 24 Feb 2016
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:03 pm    Post subject: 11 Reasons to stay away from Colombia Bilingue/Fellowship Reply with quote

Mate

Last edited by ChewyB on Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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leretif9



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 152

PostPosted: Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds terrible.

HOWEVER...

1. I don't get why your friend had only one copy of their BA. Why didn't they scan a copy into their e-mail, and then print them out as needed to their heart's content?

2. I fail to see how a stone rip-off of the kind you describe could be intended to "promote tourism." Maybe I'm missing something here.

Best of luck.

Also, what town were you in?
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wanderingxelmundo



Joined: 25 Mar 2015
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also curious to know where you were. You say you were in a small town, but then talk about City Center and rush hour. I can't believe that you struggled to get by in a small town (any small town whether or not the one "widely known to be the cheapest") in Colombia on $1.5 million pesos, so something doesn't add up. I wouldn't want to try it in Bogota, though.

On the other hand, I applied directly with Greenheart Travel and they were incredibly disorganized (sent app, got email about my second interview, finally got first interview, heard nothing until I got an offer for a program I don't qualify for since I'm over 50, etc., etc.) so I'm not surprised that they were even more disorganized in Colombia. I don't understand why you think that disorganization is evidence of some sinister plot, though.
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wanderingxelmundo



Joined: 25 Mar 2015
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and from what you say. Banco de Bogota is the Wells Fargo of Colombia, which is good to know

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/business/dealbook/wells-fargo-accusations-sham-insurance-policies.html
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ChewyB



Joined: 24 Feb 2016
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mate

Last edited by ChewyB on Wed Jul 05, 2017 5:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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wanderingxelmundo



Joined: 25 Mar 2015
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if you're referring to me or Leritif. I'm not sure how you think my post can be seen as defending them. I said that the parent organization was really disorganized -- so disorganized they couldn't manage to get me through the interview process (I have lived in Colombia and am an experienced English teacher, but was drawn, like you, to helping people. I decided against even trying to get through their parent organization's layers of disorganization -- how could you possibly read that as my being an Internet troll defending them?).

I would like to know what small town in Colombia is too expensive for 1.5 million -- I'm sure everyone who comes here will want to avoid that town since normally small town living is cheap. Look at all the threads where people are asking about cost of living -- it's info that people want to know here. However, if you mean that you lived in a city but were assigned to teach in a small town and commuted from city to town then that's a different story, irregardless of whether someone should work for the school you mention.

I probably have more experience than you do with Colombian government bureaucracy and that was the only point I had issue with -- you seem to think that disorganization means more than it does -- they are disorganized in general and have many layers of bureaucracy that add to both the actual disorganization and appearance of disorganization (i.e., delays). I also happen to check classified ads for nonprofits in Colombia weekly, and I know that the parent organization is often hiring for the same positions, and they seem to have high turnover. Again, I don't think it means they are trying to lure tourists in, but that they are disorganized.
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leretif9



Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 152

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chewyb,

Appreciate your advice but I don't see any responses here that attempt to defend this outfit you had to contend with.

Best wishes,

Leretif
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The song



Joined: 26 Jun 2014
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems par course for these types of programs.

Some of them might be a little more helpful, but basically it's a poverty-level salary for a full-time job. You can easily earn 4-5x that amount in Colombia with no qualifications (but with the right connections), or 10+ times that in another country.

There are a few exceptions but education is not taken seriously here and even moreso for anything the government touches.
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twowheel



Joined: 03 Jul 2015
Posts: 693

PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2016 2:25 am    Post subject: Re: 11 Reasons to stay away from Colombia Bilingue/Fellowshi Reply with quote

ChewyB wrote:
1. $400 deposit – Blatant red flag.


I stopped right there. Why should I have to "pay to play"? I never ever pay to do work, but I do expect to get paid for my work. I expect that it should be the same for everyone else as well.

twowheel.
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wanderingxelmundo



Joined: 25 Mar 2015
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the risk of being accused of being a "plant" or troll, IF this program were well-organized (it's not) then it wouldn't necessarily be a bad deal for the right person. I don't know if you're familiar with the L.A. ESL market, ChewyB, but there are very few jobs that will hire people who aren't physically present. For those w/o CELTA and/or experience, the number is close to zero, w/ this being an exception. So for someone who wants to get their feet wet, and feels more comfortable w/ a placement before booking their flight, this is an option. The tradeoff is that to show that you're serious, you have to pay a deposit (not payment: it's returned) -- towards visa etc. (also the # of other places that will pay the visa for someone w/ no CELTA and no experience is also probably zero or close to it).

So the pay is basic, but they pay 2 weeks room and board, another 4 weeks room only, visa, local insurance, 2 weeks training (which OP says is a joke, but again I'm just saying that IF this were a well-run program) and except for the first week or two while getting the visa, you're not running out your clock on tourist visa days. Also, for someone who wants to be in a very small city/town, then in the remote locations this salary isn't bad.

I'm older and have experience but I was drawn to the fact that it's not the usual corporate students, and again, that I wouldn't be using up my tourist days while I took the time to decide what city to settle in (I've only lived in Bogota which is too cold for me) and found a job I was interested in. But, alas, I do agree that the program is really disorganized.
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siwhitehouse



Joined: 01 Nov 2014
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completed this program last year and as my experience/opinion is quite different from ChewyB's I'd like to offer the following as balance.

I came because I wanted to experience life in a country other than my own and for it to be as close to the life of a person from that country as possible. I also wanted to be as good a teacher as I could and to have a positive effect on the school I worked in.

To address ChewyB's points in turn:

1. I was happy to pay the deposit of $400. The program was putting in a lot of up front effort into our recruitment and initiation, including arranging visas and housing. I saw it as a way of putting off people who weren't ready to commit to the full term of the contract.

2. The standard of training during orientation was variable, but I thought it did a reasonable job of encouraging people to feel part of the larger enterprise and of giving us some classroom skills.

While the food wasn't brilliant, it was decent by what I came to know as Colombian standards and I didn't get sick from it. Shove a load of people from different countries into a small space for a fortnight and everybody's local bugs and germs get mixed up. I don't think it is fair to blame everything on the food.

3. Our hostel accommodation was ok. It was quiet enough and none of us had any possessions stolen. Our regional coordinator visited soon after we moved in to check it was suitable.

4. Banco de Bogota only charged me the fees that I was told about during initiation. I had to go once to collect some paperwork which took up an afternoon. When I reported my card lost they were very helpful and efficient about cancelling it and ordering a new one.

When I closed my account at the end of the programme I had to withdraw quite a lot of money, as I was leaving the country. This was a little inconvenient, but the bank teller offered to arrange a police escort home for us!

5. I was placed in Palmira, which is a medium sized city about 20kms east of Cali. I was able to rent a room in a house with other fellows on the programme. I'm one of the older people on the programme and I didn't go out partying, although apart from that I wouldn't say that I was particularly penny pinching. On the 1.5 million stipend I was also able to visit:

- Popayan and San Agustin
- Leticia (Las Amazonas)
- Cartagena
- Ladrilleros (whale watching)
- Lago Calima

The only time I dipped into my savings, other than in the first month or so before the initial stipend, was to take a trip to San Andres with my mentor and her family. This cost less than the bonus I was paid at the end of the program.

6. I had a 30 minute walk into school each morning. It was 15 minutes by bus and 5 minutes by cab. The bus cost 1500 pesos and the cab cost 3500 pesos (between two of us). Even getting a cab, alone, each way and every day doesn't come to 15% of the stipend. Personally, I spent comfortably less than 5% of my stipend on commuting.

7. I don't have any comment about this.

8. I was never paid late. On the contrary I was paid early on a couple of occasions.

9. I can't really comment on this

10. I don't think the programme is about tourism rather than education and this was certainly never a discussion that was had in the group of fellows that I was a part of.

Without doubt, there were difficulties that we faced with teaching. It took time to get to know our Colombian co-teachers and their styles and teaching methods. There are significant cultural differences between Colombia and, well just about anywhere from what I can gather, and that takes time to adjust to. But I never doubted the commitment of everybody involved to making the most of us as a resource.

The programme made sure that we had monthly meetings with our Regional Coordinator to assess progress and we had two visits from a person from the Ministry of Education to see how the programme was working in our school.

My impression of the Colombian education system is that individual teachers are given a lot of freedom in the classroom and that lesson observations are not standard practice. As such, there seemed to be more oversight of teachers as a result of being on the programme.

11. I can't remember any specific contact with the director and sub-directors so can't really comment.

Where I do agree with ChewyB is that the communications are pretty terrible and there is a lot of disorganisation evident when you have to deal with the bureaucratic side of the programme. I had emails that were not answered, probably because the person did not know the answer.

The issue with the flight bonus that was not paid was pretty much a case study in how not to communicate with and treat your staff. Without going into details it appeared that they had been put in a difficult position, but instead of being honest about it they tried to rephrase our contracts to our detriment.

ChewyB says that they want to prevent people from making the mistake of joining the programme. To counter that I'd say that I had a wonderful year and have made friends for life on the teaching staff of my school. It was not always easy, but the satisfaction and sense of achievement I got from being on the programme were worth it.

During my placement I spent time looking around at the lives that Colombian people live and, within that context, I never felt as though I could complain about the situation - both living and working - that I was in.

If I knew then what I know now I would still have applied for the programme.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11451
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

siwhitehouse:
Was that program related to the following:

English for Colombian kids
By Andrea Pérez, EL Gazette | Feb 2017
Source: http://www.elgazette.com/

Medellin, Colombia’s second city (above), has launched a new bilingual programme which introduces English language to children in early childhood. Pilot project Semilla Bilingüe (bilingual seed) has been implemented in eighteen kindergartens and fifteen primary schools since January.

‘We want to plant the seed for the first bilingual generation in Colombia,’ Medellin secretary of education Luis Guillermo Patiño explained. The programme will deliver English language lessons and native-speaker teachers to provide Colombian children in state schools with a similar education to those in private schools. ‘The possibility of educating our children as if they were in private institutions means equity for us,’ said Guillermo Patiño. If successful, the project could expand across the rest of the country.

(End of article)
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