It's a long way from New Manchester to Bogota, Colombia, but Shoshana Fineman knows the way.
Fineman, 26, a 2004 graduate of Oak Glen High School, teaches English to eighth-graders at Gimnasio Vermont, a private, bilingual school in Bogota, the capital of Colombia.
This coming week, she is returning to her hometown with a group of Colombian science teachers who want to learn English. Fineman and her five friends - two men and three women - will be staying with her father, Steve Fineman, in Chester, and will be getting a little help from family and friends in the area.
"The reason it's so perfect for them to be in Chester is because nobody speaks Spanish," she said. "What better place is there for them to go? They're excited and a little bit nervous."
The group departed from Colombia on Wednesday and is spending the weekend in New York City. On Sunday, they'll take the Megabus to Pittsburgh, and then it's on to Hancock County, where there will be a week's worth of activities for the teachers.
"They're really excited about the drive-in," she said.
Fineman has been working in Colombia since August 2011, when she got a job teaching English at one of the premier schools in Bogota. Fineman studied Spanish education at Marshall University and lived in Colombia for a year in 2009, but she got into teaching grudgingly.
"I never, ever thought I would teach. I never wanted to teach. Life just throws you some curve balls, and you have to do what you have to do," she said. "It's challenging and it's fun to be a teacher, but it's hard."
She came back to the United States and taught Spanish for a year at a high school in Lakeland, Fla. Then she thought she might like to return to Colombia, the native land of her mother, Lily. Fineman holds citizenship in both the United States and Colombia.
She began to research schools that have the International Baccalaureate program and e-mailed them about job opportunities. Before she knew it, she landed a job with Gimnasio Vermont, which has a partnership with St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vt.
"It was pure luck," she said. "I don't know how I got so lucky."
Even though a lot of the subjects are taught in English, the science teachers she got to know this past school year wanted to learn more English. "It's a huge advantage to know English in Colombia. Their pay would obviously go up," she said.
"At some point, I talked to them about Chester, and they said, 'Hey, we want to go,' and I said, 'Sure.' I never thought we'd get to this point," she said.
Fineman said it's difficult for Colombians to get visas to travel abroad, but, somehow, all five of her fellow teachers were able to do it. In all, they will spend six of their 20 days in the United States in Chester.