5 min read

     At the age of 30, Alejandro Gómez Duque has not just made a mark on the wall which separates us linguistically but he has begun to tear it down! He has proven to be a force to be reckoned with as he travels the world and empowers others through the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language.

     Let’s face it, for those of us who decide to embark on the learning of a new language, technology has granted us a few options. One could easily download a multilingual language app and have it readily available at our fingertips. However, apart from the ease that this brings, does it not take away from the true essence of what learning a language entails? Does it not take away from those warm human interactions that leave lasting impressions? Learning a language develops within our hearts like a seed. It must be watered by that special someone with warm personal interactions and a desire of having the student’s best interest at heart. That special someone is Alej (as everyone calls him), as he understands that with great care and interest as a teacher, that language tree can begin to grow.

     Hands down, he is the kindest person you will ever meet. Although quite quirky by nature, it’s actually one of his most attractive characteristics. With a genuine heart and an unmatched can do attitude, he never gives up on his students. He is the definition of dedication and the best “fertilizer” to any young plant that destines growth.

     We first met Alejandro in 2016 when he ventured to the shores of Barbados as a Prosperity Maker, a member of the Colombian organization HFC (Heart For Change). Although this was a volunteered effort on his part and his first time in the tropical Caribbean, he was on a mission! His main objective was to act as a teaching assistant at The University of the West Indies for their Survival Spanish programme. However, not only did he do just that but he took it upon himself along with a few others to create a Cine-club geared towards eliminating prejudices from the Hispanic culture as well as highlighting their many cultural traditions and customs. From that moment on, we knew there was something special about him. He certainly wasn’t the average person. He always aimed to go above and beyond his call of duty and that was what caught everyone’s attention. In fact, we consider him a true gem with a passion like no other!

     After his short stay in Barbados, he returned to his home town of Manizales, Colombia, to continue doing what he loved but little did he know that this would have been the first stepping stone to a long successful language journey. That said, Alej was on the move again, this time, to Paris, France. By this time, Alej had fully completed his first degree in Modern Languages and was ready to take on his newest responsibility of teaching Spanish to a diverse set of French students of various levels. His main task at hand was to improve their oral and written fluency in preparation for their upcoming college studies. To make this new objective possible, he saw it necessary to first construct a positive learning environment that would set the basis for the new learners of Spanish as a second language. Once done, the second objective was to also engage and interact with the other teachers to make sure that the consistency was not lost.

     Alejandro had to be creative in his efforts. He understood that learning a language is in fact a behavioral science, in that one must understand in order to predict the actions or attitudes of his students. It’s all about having the correct mindset and then using the right approach to get the best results. He coordinated thematic plays such as “Entre Molinos y Rascacielos” to boost student engagement, in class cultural presentations and It even reached the point where he took to the stage in front of a large auditorium to educate said students about the importance of language and the role that it can play in today’s society. Without a doubt, Alejandro displayed his full capabilities of being a transformational leader and has no intention of stopping!

     Apart from this amazing opportunity of focusing on his true love for teaching as assigned by the British Council Colombia, CLEA (Colombian Leaders ELT Association), it also gave him the chance to be a national cultural ambassador for change, for his country. This change, however, was one of a psychological nature as to rid the negative stigma attached to Colombia regarding the ever popular drug cartels, violence, human trafficking and prostitution.

     Although he loves a challenge, this new daunting assignment was one that proved to be extremely difficult. In fact, the tables had turned when Alej found himself being in the position as the student because he was yet to familiarize himself with his new environs where he now resided. In addition, he had to be a fast learner to at least cope with life and the harsh unexpected winter on a day to day basis. However, despite the challenges, he pressed on and his warm personality made it easy for him to make friends as the months passed. These friends turned into his teachers and with the knowledge gained from them, he was better equipped and ready to effectively cope with any situation that faced him in the best way he knew how.

     The only result derived from hard work is success and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed! To prove this, we are pleased to announce that Alej has recently been awarded a scholarship in efforts to pursue his Masters in Spanish. This continuation of his life journey takes him to Athens, Ohio, where he is already excited to inspire others as well as to further develop himself within his native language. Alejandro Gómez Duque is a true success story and we wish him all the best!

Alejandro, we salute you!

     Apart from this amazing opportunity of focusing on his true love for teaching as assigned by the British Council Colombia, CLEA (Colombian Leaders ELT Association), it also gave him the chance to be a National Cultural Ambassador for change for his country. This change, however, was one of a psychological nature as to rid the negative stigma attached to Colombia regarding the ever popular drug cartels, violence, human trafficking and prostitution.

     Although he loves a challenge, this new daunting assignment was one that proved to be extremely difficult. In fact, the tables had turned when Alej found himself being in the position as the student because he was yet to familiarize himself with his new environs where he now resided. In addition, he had to be a fast learner to at least cope with life and the harsh unexpected winter on a day to day basis. However, despite the challenges, he pressed on and his warm personality made it easy for him to make friends as the months passed. These friends turned into his teachers and with the knowledge gained from them, he was better equipped and ready to effectively cope with any situation that faced him in the best way he knew how.

     The only result derived from hard work is success and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed! To prove this, we are pleased to announce that Alej has recently been awarded a scholarship in efforts to pursue his Masters in Spanish. This continuation of his life journey takes him to Miami, Florida, where he is already excited to inspire others as well as to further develop himself within his native language. Alejandro Gómez Duque is a true success story and we wish him all the best!

Alejandro, we salute you!

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