Village resident Emilie Efronson is raising money to go to Colombia with World Teach for a volunteer teaching assignment. She hopes to depart this month.
“I chose to go to Colombia to teach,” she says. “World Teach, an organization associated with Harvard University, partners with Volunteers Colombia and they will place me in under-resourced schools.”
Efronson applied for acceptance into the program and was brought in as a volunteer teacher. Her first stop is Bogota where she will undergo training for her new assignment.
“I will get training in teaching,” she says. “I speak almost fluent Spanish, but I’ll be getting Spanish lessons as well,”
Efronson must raise $2,500 to help fund the trip. As of mid-December, she had generated just over $600.
“I gave a presentation at the Rotary Club and I should be hearing back from them soon,” she says.
The last time Emilie Efronson was in the news, she was starting out on a 4,000-mile bicycle ride across the United States to raise money for cancer research. She rode a bike from Baltimore to San Francisco.
She successfully completed the 4K For Cancer odyssey and raised more than $10,000 for the trip through donations from family and friends. While she is hesitant to go back to the same people, she says she must raise the money so she can go to Columbia and teach underprivileged children.
“The money goes toward my training and the support resources while I’m there,” she says. “For me, it was a choice between this and Peace Corps.”
One of the reasons she is embarking on this new journey is that after biking across the country she is not ready to settle into a routine that means spending all day inside.
“Coming off a trip like that left me in high energy and I wasn’t ready to go back to school,” she says. “I do want to go back eventually and get a master’s in international public health.”
Efronson attended Johns Hopkins University and graduated last June with a degree in public health. Her plans call for working in international public health in the future, but she is not ready to go to graduate school or to start work just yet.
“This is a good opportunity for me to be abroad for a year,” she says. “I’m going to be teaching 20-25 hours a week. I’m going to have an opportunity to do other things in the community. I’d like to work in either exciting health projects or create something on my own.”
This year abroad will not be easy. She’s going to be in an area that is quite poor and she will have to live on a $200 stipend from Volunteer Columbia.
One of the things she learned from her summer bike trek is that it is possible to achieve your goals.
“I’ve always been a very confident person, one who wants to go out and challenge myself,” she says. “I have learned that so many things in life are mental and you can prevent yourself from doing something so quick.”
Efronson says that on her trip across America she learned that mental strength can get a person through a difficult period; but she also found that the mind can also get you down.
“You can find yourself coming up with all the excuses,” she says. “I pushed through those moments where it was hardest for me mentally. I would say the trip was 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical.”
To help Efronson with her World Teach project, go to, click on the “Donate Now” button and type Emilie Efronson on the “Gift Designated For” line.