Colombia - English with Performing Arts
From October to November 2019, Edinburgh College provided a bespoke training course for five performing arts professionals from Colombia. The course was part of a wider scholarship programme for creative industries professionals run by the British Council and ICETEX, a Colombian government entity which facilitates access to educational opportunities. A celebration of the British Council’s 80th year working in the country, the programme aimed to improve links with the creative sector in the UK and contribute to the growth of this sector in Colombia.
During their eight weeks in Edinburgh, the group improved their language skills with interactive classes in general English language development as well as English with a focus on the performing arts. They also enjoyed seminars about the creative industries in Scotland and joined local students in practical performing arts lessons. As each participant had their own area of expertise, they were able to attend classes tailored to them including acting, drama, aerial, musical theatre, make-up artistry, set design and dance.
Outside of the classroom, the group participated in a number of sector-related visits in order to enhance their understanding of how the creative industries thrive in Edinburgh and Scotland. These included visits to the City Chambers to meet those making decisions about the sector on behalf of the city, and to various creative charities.
The participants were also given the opportunity to experience Scottish culture by living with local families during their stay and taking part in a social and cultural programme. This included a tour of the city’s historic centre, a traditional Scottish ceilidh dance, and visits to places of interest in the city such as Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, and Holyrood Palace. Further afield, the group enjoyed trips to Glasgow, North Berwick, and St Andrews.
Twenty-six-year-old actress Diana Cifuentes said: “This experience has been fantastic. As well as having the opportunity to improve our English language skills, we have also got the chance to explore the city and it has been amazing.
“I work in the arts sector for the government in Colombia, and there is a big difference between the opportunities available here. In Colombia, there is not much support or many job opportunities in the creative industries, so it’s a good experience to come to Scotland to see how the sector can thrive.”
Thirty-two-year-old artist Juan Orozco said: “I really appreciate having the opportunity to come to Scotland to undertake this learning experience at Edinburgh College. It enables me to experience what learning in the creative industries in this country is like, whilst also being able to improve my English language skills.”
Edinburgh College International Business Manager Sarah Gore said: “It’s great to be able to welcome the group from Colombia to study with us as part of this programme. Few cities in the world can match what Edinburgh has to offer for students and professionals of the performing arts and at Edinburgh College we have fantastic facilities and a vast range of experience in this area. The Colombian group themselves have come here full of enthusiasm and eager to make the most of their time in Scotland. I am confident that this programme will be a great experience not just for the group, but for those working with them for the duration of their time here.”
Head of Tertiary Education at British Council Diana Basto said: “We are sure the experience at Edinburgh College will be highly beneficial to participants in better understanding the performing arts sector in the UK. By improving their English language skills, we hope they will have more opportunities to create bilateral partnerships and promote their work at an international level.