September in Cali - the mercury is still passing right on by 30 degrees every day with no signs of stopping, however, many other things are changing and bringing with them new and exciting oportunities. Culturally speaking September brings two festivals - the Cali Jazz festival starting this week and the world Salsa festival later this month. I love me some jazz and am appreciating salsa more and more since arriving in its capital city, so I plan on attending quite a few concerts in the upcoming weeks!
Another change is that I have successfully been in contact with two organizations apart from La Universidad Santiago de Cali with which I will be working in the future. The first is Universidad UCESI. I went to their campus yeterday to lunch with the director of their office of international relations and the head of their foreign language department. We discussed three activities of interest - running Friday afternoon extracurricular English activities for them, working on a small research project with a professor of the International Relations or History faculty, and as an important addition to my weekly schedule, participating in yoga classes offered nightly at the university for free! I am hoping to lunch with a group of profs soon to discuss academic interests and get something rolling. I had at first thought I would lay off the academic for the first semester, but it sounds like an exciting oportuinity that will put me in contact with a group of academics that comes from an impressive range of countries around the world. The university is having a conference on Western Hemisphere relations later this month which I have been invited to attend and am greatly looking forward to. The second organization is the Colombo-Americana Association. I had an interview Tuesday with the woman who runs their volunteer programs and this Saturday I am going to a foundation in a poorer barrio of Cali to meet a bunch of kids, do a little English activity, and talk about creating a mentoring program. I´m hoping that this will develop more as well in the upcoming weeks.
As far as work at the ole USC goes, we´ve moved on in conversation club from discussing the king of pop to Billy Joel and John Lennon as well as topics such as renewable engergy sources and work unions in relation to the North American Labor Day. Students here continue to be truly excited to learn and I have really enjoyed getting together with them outside of class to chat. This weekend I´m off to Pance which is a small vacation town south of Cali with a rive to sweim and waterfalls to hike to as well as plenty of bars stocked with aguardiente and (I´m hoping) pumping out some salsa tunes. Within the Cali city limits too I continue to discover new cultural activities such as independent film showings and art museums. The amount of outlets such as these has truly surprised me for a city which at first stuck me as dirty and a bit shady.
For now, that´s life. I´m feeling more and more comfortable with each passing day and truly enjoying myself. Patience and persistence have certainly been two necessary qualities adjusting to life here, but I think I´ve done fairly well thus far. Now I´m off to start apartment searching online. Wish me luck. Que estén bien!