Earlier this month I had the opportunity to meet Eliana Caicerdo, BridgeEnglish student from Colombia. Although at first she seemed very quiet, Eliana has a reserved spark that emerged with just the right conversation. She eagerly answered every question I asked about her journey from South America.
Eliana has pleasant memories of her childhood in Colombia. Well known for it’s lively music scene, world-renowned coffee and heavily influenced Spanish culture, Eliana enjoyed living in Cali. As a young woman she found a love for teaching, more specifically young children. Due to the lack of demand for teachers, young Eliana made the decision to pack her bags and head South for Chile in search of a new adventure.
Coming from a South American culture, Eliana was surprised to find that even the Spanish was spoken differently in Chile. Despite the challenge, she found a job in a Montessori school. After nearly five years, she made the move to Denver.
In Colombia, she tried learning English on her own but found it extremely difficult and confusing, but she was open to learning again when she moved to the United States. Although pronunciation and grammar are still a bit difficult, Eliana sees the frustration as a learning opportunity. Every day has its own challenges, whether she is at the grocery store or going to the movie theater for a film without Spanish subtitles, or talking to other students in her class, but she likes these challenges because they’re helping her perfect her English.
After a few classes with Bridge, Eliana realized that in her class of 13 students, she was the only woman in a class of 12 men! She describes herself as “generally, a nervous person”, but developed a new confidence in being the only female in her class. It was a challenge for her at first, because she felt behind her classmates, but sees it as a motivation to keep practicing.
Culturally speaking, Eliana has found that she prefers being in Denver. She finds the people here very friendly and outgoing. “Denver has a lot to keep me busy when I’m not studying. I like going to movies to listen to English, and not having subtitles helps me with normal conversations.”
Eventually, Eliana would like to go back to Chile to teach in a Montessori school. If the opportunity were to arise, she would consider teaching English because she finds that it’s important for people to communicate. After living in the culture and expanding her knowledge, her words of wisdom to her students would be “Do not be scared. Go to the United States to learn English so that you can hear all the different accents and experience the life there. It’s a good challenge.”