Aerial view of a small town in Colombia.
Programs From the US

Cultural Exchange in Colombia


The YMCA COLead3rs® Program at the YMCA of Colombia

Live a cultural exchange experience in the unique and magical country of Colombia for up to 10 months! No student status or Spanish language skills required! Calling all 21-40 years olds – gain a true cultural experience in this modern nation while teaching English in a Colombian school or university. Colombia has created a “buzz” of attention in the travel industry in the last five years and was named Travel Zoo’s top five “wow deal destinations for 2013” in addition to “the hottest travel destination of 2012” by National Geographic, Gadling, and The New York Times!

Why a Cultural Exchange in Colombia?

  • Learn first-hand about Colombian culture, its geography and idiosyncrasies.
  • Increase and/or develop your Spanish language skills.
  • Make new friends.
  • Develop leadership skills.
  • Gain valuable teaching experience.
  • Internationalize your resume.
  • Promote cultural awareness by sharing the details of your American culture with Colombian students.
  • You will receive a stipend (in local currency) equivalent to approximately US$500-US$600 per month (this will more than cover the costs of room and board while in Colombia).

How the Program Works

Eligible applicants are pre-placed in schools, universities and social institutions around the Colombian territory. During the program you will develop activities that contribute to the learning and strengthening of the English language skills of Colombian students. There are two arrival months to choose from – January or July and participants must arrive in Bogota, Colombia well before the start of the academic period. Internship placements are for up to 10 months with a minimum commitment of 5 months.

As an participant you will have an opportunity to

  • Assume the role of Cultural Assistant for an average of 20 to 30 hours per week (may include weekends) in universities, schools and institutions where our Colombian co-operator has agreements.
  • Contribute to the bilingual goals established by the National Secretary of Education in Colombia.
  • Develop and guide workshops about American culture in academic and social institutions when required.
  • Plan and develop several types of English Immersion Programs at local YMCAs in Colombia and/or their partnering institutions.
  • Provide administrative and logistic support at our Colombian co-operator’s International Office.
  • Participate in Youth Orientation Workshops developed by the local hosting ACJ-YMCA, if required.


  • Be a US citizen with a valid US passport.
  • Be between 21 and 40 years of age.
  • Graduated from a higher education institution (preferred) or be a current university or college student.
  • Have previous experience working with children or young adults.
  • Be a native English speaker or fluent in the English language.
  • Be in excellent health.
  • Have a clear criminal record.
  • Be enthusiastic, dynamic and ready for the challenge of an international experience.
  • Provide proof of cull Covid vaccination
Apply Now for Cultura Exchange in Colombia
Colorful house front with balcony in Salento.

Host Families or Shared Apartment

You will either be pre-placed with one of our screened host families or placed with similarly aged Colombians or participants in a shared apartment for the duration of your time on our program. The cost of your accommodation will be between US$180 and US$200 per month. All stays include a kitchen where you can cook your meals.

Apply Now for Cultural Exchange in Colombia
Travel Information

Traveling in Colombia

While in Bogota check out the Gold Museum or if you are interested in street art, sign up for the Graffiti Tour that runs every day at 10 am. During school holidays you will have an opportunity to travel and explore other parts of Colombia. Take this opportunity to visit Cartagena, located on the Caribbean Sea, it is Colombia’s second-oldest city. Take a mud bath in the Totumo Volcano near Cartagena or learn Salsa in Cali. Mystery seekers can trek through the jungles, hills, and rivers of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to reach the 1,200+ rock steps that lead you to the “Lost City” of Teyuna. This ancient capital city of the Tayrona civilization is believed to date back to AD 800. If you are looking for adventure check out the Chicamocha Canyon in Santander – it is approximately 2 kilometers deep, 227 kilometers long and 264 hectares in size – start with a rappel at the entrance and end with an exciting jump into the void inside the cave!

Interesting Facts About Colombia

Check out our interesting facts about Colombia

  • Colombia’s main exports are oil, coal, coffee, gold and other food products. Interestingly 12% of the world’s coffee comes from Colombia.
  • The highest mountain in the country is Pico Cristóbal Colón, which is about 19,020 feet high.
  • Colombia is broken up into 33 departments represented by a local government and a governor. The capital city is Bogota and it has a population of about 7 million. The whole country contains about 46 million people. This makes it the 29th most populous country on Earth.
  • The official language of the country is Spanish, but English is also used in some parts.
  • The currency used in Colombia is the Peso (although this is different from other countries that also use the Peso, such as Mexico).

  • The flag of Colombia was adopted in 1861 and the colors represent certain historical events. Yellow (federation of Greater Colombia), blue (independence from Spain) and red (courage).
  • Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines form a part of the Colombian territory.
  • Coffee production contributes to more than 20% of the revenue of Colombia.
  • The country does not have specific seasons. Due to its proximity to the equator, Colombia experiences sunlight throughout the year.
  • Colombia is also the most bio-diverse country in the world.

Viewpoint near Filandia, in the heart of the coffee growing region of Colombia.
Application and Fees

How to Apply

Please email for an application and instructions on how to apply.

Documents to include with your application:

  • Three academic or work references. Cannot be completed by a family member.
  • Local police background check (does not need to be an FBI check).
  • A copy of your passport bio page (the page with your photo and passport details).
  • One digital photo
  • Your resume detailing your work experience and volunteer experience, if applicable.
  • Pay the non-refundable application fee of $50.

Application deadlines: For January arrivals, please apply no later than October 15th ; July arrivals should apply no later than April 15th.

Program Fees

The program fee is $700 for a 10 month program and includes a non-refundable application fee of $50. After submitting your application to IENA we will arrange a Skype interview between the applicant and our partner in Colombia. If you are accepted to the program after your Skype interview you will be required to pay a deposit of $340 to secure your place on the program. Once we have placed you and you have accepted the placement, the remaining balance of your program fee will be due ($310). The program fee covers school or university placement, pre-departure and visa support from IENA, airport transfer to your pre-placed housing, orientation, social events and ongoing assistance for the entire time you are in Colombia on our program.


IENA and the ACJ YMCA will assist you with the visa process and will provide the necessary paperwork for your visa application. You may be required to physically go in person to the Colombian Consulate to submit your passport and visa application for processing. Visa processing takes on average one month.

Other costs to consider:

  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance, you can provide your own policy or purchase insurance through IENA.
  • Visa application fee, currently US$52.
  • Visa fee currently US$172.
  • National ID approximately US$65
  • Public transportation costs to/from your placement, if applicable.
  • Support funds/spending money.
  • First month living expenses in Colombia: $500 USD

Cancellation Conditions

The program application fee of $50 is non-refundable.

If you cancel from the program after you have been accepted to the program but before you are placed a US$300 cancellation fee will be imposed.

If you cancel from the program after you have accepted your placement, no refund is possible.

In all cases a cancellation must be received in writing and is only effective from the date we receive it. Remember also that separate cancellation fees and conditions will undoubtedly apply to any flight bookings you make.

Apply for Cultural Exchange in Colombia
Silhouette of a group of people in a field at sunset.
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