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Ameer's experience volunteering for Intercambio


Jul 26, 2023

Our Volunteer Ameer speaking about his time in Medellín.

I joined the Intercambio team in the middle of April 2023 and spent the next 2.5 months living in Medellin and teaching English in the La Divisa neighborhood of Comuna 13.  Prior to Intercambio, I had virtually no teaching experience.  I had worked with children before -- coaching soccer, babysitting, etc. -- but never in a classroom environment.  To be honest, before I arrived in Medellin I didn't really know much about Intercambio or what my responsibilities within the project would be.  What I did know was that Alex and Elias had a real vision for Intercambio, and when we spoke I felt that I understood their ideas and aspirations for the project, and could see their genuine passion to help create a lasting impact on the community.  

One of my favorite parts of this experience was seeing how my relationships with the kids (and adults) of La Divisa grew over time.  Week by week, I could see the students becoming more open, comfortable, and accepting of me, both in and out of the classroom.  I found it very rewarding to get to know some of the kids on a personal level, and once I was able to earn their trust and respect it became much easier and more enjoyable to teach.  The same goes for the adults who run the Sembradores organization.  Their foundation "Sembrando Paz y Esperanza" has an importance to the community that cannot be overstated, and they work day in and day out to improve the lives of the children in La Divisa.  Yenni is somewhat of a superhero in this community and the children treat her as such.  I've never seen an adult command such respect -- and love -- from so many children.  I have a deep respect for her, Andres, Diego and Sara, and I felt that by the end of my time at Intercambio I had begun to develop a closer relationship with them because they could see my dedication to the project and my affection for the students.  

My favorite moments from this experience came from the two end of year activities that we did with the students.  We had such an incredible day at the water park with the younger children -- it was pure joy for everyone involved.  The Atletico Nacional game with the older students turned out to be a nail-biting thriller, and the day couldn't have gone better.  We worked hard to organize and fundraise for these activities, and it really was worth all of the effort.  

I could say a lot more but I'll finish with this: Volunteering at Intercambio was a unique, challenging and truly one-of-a-kind experience that I am incredibly grateful for; I plan on staying connected to this project in the years to come.

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