Casa De Amigos hosts “Conversation and Colombia” Event


Gabriella Gallardo, Special to the Courier

COVID-19 has disrupted travel for students but not interactions. On March 1st, the Casa De Amigos student club at COD hosted a virtual event inviting two Community College Initiative Programs (CCI) for International Exchange Students from Columbia to continue educating U.S. students about different Latinx cultures.


Before COVID-19, Casa de Amigos had invited CCI International Exchange students to conversational events. Now, conversation tables are one of the many events that had to be hosted online because of COVID-19 restrictions. In the past, many CCI International Exchange students would participate, in-person, in the club’s Annual Day of the Dead Excursion to Pilsen and the National Museum of Mexican Art, Salsa/Merengue/Bachata dance and the bi-weekly meetings. 


Guest speakers Santiago Ortiz Franco and Alejandro Ramirez Moncada are CCI International Exchange students from Colombia studying at COD this year. Franco and Moncada wanted to connect and share parts of their culture, country and language with COD’s U.S. Spanish language students. 

First, the club watched a video about Colombia to have a general knowledge about the country’s culture, people, language and landscapes.


The guests shared in-depth about certain topics such as the “Paisaje Cultural Cafetero Colombiano” (PCC) and the production and cultivation of coffee.


Colombian coffee has gained worldwide recognition as one of the best coffees produced in the world. The beans have helped shape a high degree of cultural unity. This is expressed in tangible cultural manifestations such as urban and rural construction techniques. Similarly, it is expressed in intangible cultural manifestations associated with local traditions, costumes, festivities, carnivals and celebrations of the paisa identity inherited from the Antioquian settlers.      


The PCC is made up of coffee growing areas from the departments of Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca located in the central and western foothills of the Andes mountain range. This region has been traditionally known, nationally and internationally, as Eje Cafetero, or Coffee Growing Axis. However, in order to underline its outstanding values recently, it has been known as the “Colombian Coffee Cultural Landscape.”


Other topics the guests shared were about the linguistic diversity within Colombia. The official language of Colombia is known as “Castellano,” and Colombia had rich subcultures such as the Afro-descendant and Indigenous community. 


“I have studied Spanish throughout high school and college for many years now, but I found it difficult to understand native Spanish speakers,” said Casa De Amigos President Hannah Serio. “Hearing Santiago and Alejandro present in Spanish helped me understand native Spanish speakers. I got the opportunity to ask them questions, and our club advisers gave small hints reiterating what they said so we could make sure we were all understanding. It was an amazing experience you can’t get by listening to a video, music or movie. After the meeting, I feel more confident in my ability to interpret Spanish when spoken by native speakers.”


Casa de Amigos plans on having another conversation table at noon on Monday, March 15, where students will continue to explore their Spanish language and intercultural competence skills as they discuss traditional foods and cultural celebrations and expressions that are popular in their Latin American countries of origin. Students will also play a Lotería conversation game to get to know one another in Spanish. 

Casa de Amigos will continue to invite other CCI International Exchange students to future conversation tables so they continue making lasting connections with Spanish-speaking students and community members.


COD Field and Experiential Learning/Study Abroad/Global Education Manager Maren McKellin shared, “COD students will not be able to travel abroad in Spring 2021. We are slowly bringing back domestic travel; however, the College has issued a travel ban, and that hasn’t been lifted yet. We will continue to monitor the conditions and bring out-of-state and international programs back when it is deemed safe to do so.”


For more information on COD’s plan for students who want to study abroad, the link is provided below. 


Join Casa De Amigos: 

[email protected];


Field and Experiential Learning/Study Abroad/Global Education: