June 2017
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Kate Dana, Barranquilla, Colombia

Hello! My name is Kate Dana. I am a technology enthusiast with a passion for international education. I have been living and teaching abroad since 2012. People often ask how I have managed to create such a vibrant life for myself. While there have been a few challenges among the many celebrations, I am grateful every day to live in an amazing country, doing work that I enjoy, while also being able to travel and write.

I received my TEFL certificate in 2012 from the International Teacher Training Organization in Guadalajara, México. In 2013, I taught at an English language center in Tlaquepaque, México, then moved on to teach secondary-level Informática at the British American School in Puerto Vallarta, México. While my experience living in these picturesque cities was inspiring and colorful, I also learned about foreign teaching regulations such as work visas and hiring contracts. At the end of the school year, I searched for new opportunities to continue teaching in Latin America.

I discovered WorldTeach, a nongovernmental organization founded by a group of Harvard University students, and was accepted into the Colombia 2014 program. I was placed in Barranquilla as a year-long volunteer, teaching primary-level English at a public school. During my volunteer year, I met President Juan Manuel Santos and 2012–2015 Barranquilla Mayor Elsa Noguera, both of whom are focused intently on making Colombia a bilingual nation by 2020.

Early morning in Playa Blanca, Isla Barú, 2016

I grew enamored with the beauty and diversity in Colombia—its gorgeous terrain, rich culture, and profound history—as well as its incredible people, who are seemingly always happy. Even WIN/Gallup International Association’s annual global end-of-the-year poll agrees that Colombians are the happiest in the world, having won the title two years in a row.

With travel being relatively easy and affordable, I explored Colombia at every opportunity possible when not teaching. I visited small villages on the coast, as well as larger cities like Medellin. I became hooked on the vibrant dances, delicious food, and diverse lifestyles throughout Colombia, chronicling these inspirations on my blog and website, http://www.katedana.com. In between teaching and traveling in 2014, I searched for work in order to ensure my annual volunteer commitment was fulfilled.

Horseback riding in Guatapé, Antioquia, 2015

As my volunteer year was ending, I was recommended for a position as a secondary-level English teacher with with Aspaen Gimnasio Cartagena de Indias in Bolivár, Colombia. I graciously accepted the offer and stayed with the school for 2 years (2015–2016), advancing to become the area director for information communications and technology, while also teaching English literature and creative writing. In January 2017, personal matters took me back to the United States, where I remained for 3 months, teaching English for Spanish speakers independently in Charleston, South Carolina.

In April 2017, I returned to Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, to offer private English classes as I searched for my next job opportunity on the coast.  I recently relocated to Barranquilla, the city where my Colombian journey began, to teach Business English and continue to develop my experience and expertise in International Education.

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