Daniela Estrada – Fulbright Winner – Colombia

Daniela Estrada: Truman Recipient (’15-’16) and Fulbright Recipient (’16-’17)


Teaching the English language at a university in Colombia has been an enriching experience both personally
and professionally.

I was placed in Los Libertadores, a small private university in Bogota. I taught 20 one hour classes per week.
Ten of those classes were with full-time faculty and the remainder were with students of all different majors.
Most ETAs taught their own classes and were not simply assisting other professors in the classroom. I highly
encourage anyone thinking of applying to an ETA position to be prepared to teach their own class with their
own material. I really wish I would have know exactly what I would be teaching before arriving to Colombia, but
the universities do not notify you until after you have arrived. I already notified my university that it would be
beneficial to the ETA and the university to inform future ETAs about their work plan.

I have significantly grown professionally from this experience. At my university I had full autonomy over what I
taught. Additionally, I was also teaching professors who had years and decades of teaching experience.
Initially, I was intimidated, but having to perform well and with little time to plan taught me how to be patient,
how to adapt, and made me a lot more confident.

My classes with professors consisted of conversation club, movie club, and music club. All my classes focused
on conversation and I did find it very useful to use topics that my students already had prior knowledge of.
Therefore, I focused on issues facing Colombia. My classes with students were a lot different than my classes
with full-time faculty. With students I taught all different levels of English and tutored them on any questions
they had regarding their English classes. My classes served as additional support on top of their English
classes. Colombians have a very low English level. Expect to see students who are already taking
Intermediate English, but struggle speaking.

Social Project
My social project was something I really struggled with. Having 20 different classes and having to lesson plan
throughout the week, it was difficult to find time for my social project.

I organized different events on my campus including movie nights, cultural events, and lectures regarding
issues facing the U.S. They were all really successful and it was a great way to promote the English language
and cultural exchange in a fun and relaxed way.

I would highly encourage future fellows to prioritize their social project and to get started as soon as possible.
The social project is a huge part of Fulbright, so I do wish I would have talked to my university to try to figure
out a way to manage classes as well as a social project. At my university, I was on campus the majority of my
day Mondays through Friday. That was not the case for every Fulbright fellow, but it is worth a discussion with
your university to ensure that they understand your social project and give you the time to carry it out

Living in Colombia
Colombia is a beautiful country. Since the peace deal ended the civil war, tourism has increased tremendously
and it has gotten a lot safer to travel and live in Colombia. Although Colombia is increasingly getting safer, it is
important to always be cautious. Many Fulbright scholars, including myself, were victims of petty theft. Be safe and
travel Colombia as much as possible. Colombia’s coast, pacific region, efe cafetero, the Amazons, and major
cities like Bogota, Medellin, Cali are all beautiful places to visit.

Video Credit: UCI WebDAM; All videos in the collection are the property of the UC Regents.

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