A local father and daughter recently returned from a ten-day trip to Colombia to teach English.
“It’s always a pleasure to help,” says Dries Mostert, who went with his daughter Alexi Mostert. They returned from the tropical paradise at the beginning of the month.
The duo are from the Revelstoke Baptist Church, which has traveled to South America the last several years in collaboration with a Baptist Church in Colombia.
In 2010 the Colombian Government invited organizations from around the world to come and help teach as there was few in the country that knew English.
The Revelstoke Baptist Church answered the call and visited in 2011 and has gone back since.
This last trip was the sixth visit to the country for Dries Mostert.
“It’s always an adventure,” says Dries Mostert.
This year his daughter decided to tag along.
“I wanted to see what it was all about,” says Alexi Mostert.
The two joined another five from Sooke, B.C. Alexi Mostert is in Grade 11 and attends Revelstoke Secondary School. It was the first volunteer trip for Alexi Mostert and she says she loved it.
“I’ve never experienced a trip like this.”
The duo were hosted by local families in Medellin, which is the second largest city in Colombia. It’s located in the Andes Mountains and its population is almost 4 million. The pair paid for the trip themselves.
The English classes are free, open to anyone and held in a Baptist Church. The duo say roughly 90 Colombians attended. Since the program started several years ago, teachers have class plans and lessons. The goal is to teach conversational English and basic grammar.
“It’s really important to help people learn a new language,” says Alexi Mostert.
“They get to learn in a safe area. Some people may not have the opportunity to learn otherwise.”
Once known as a place of conflict, cartels and kidnapping, Colombia has changed. Colombia’s security situation has vastly improved and tourism is on the rise. And so is the need to learn English.
Alexi Mostert says some students in her class worked in customer service.
“It can help them find jobs or they can maybe put it on their resume,” says Dries Mostert.
According to Colombian government statistics, roughly three per cent of the countries GDP is from tourism in 2016. By comparison, 6.3 per cent of Canada’s GDP was from tourism in 2016. Since first visiting the country in 2011, Dries Mostert says he’s noticed the country changing.
“They’re building more aggressively and more people seem to be moving up into middle class.”
It’s becoming more common to see tourists says Dries Mostert.
“But there are still not hoards, even in the tourist places. You see the odd one here and there.”
The pair said they would like to return next year if there’s still the opportunity.
“I made new friends and we had lots of laughs,” says Alexi Mostert.