Serrano’s Journey to Trinity Included Escaping Terrorists

Ryan Cywinksi, Staff Reporter

It is not easy to adapt to a brand new way of life, culture and language after moving to a different country. To these difficulties add the threat of terrorists in your home country. Trinity teacher Mr. Jorge Serrano had to face each of these obstacles in his transition from his native country, Colombia, to the United States.

Serrano grew up on a farm in Colombia, a very different lifestyle than what he has experienced in the US.  Serrano said, “(It was) totally different.  I grew up on a farm very close to my city, so I had both lives, city life and country life.  It was a cattle farm, so we had plenty of animals.  It was amazing.  It was a more natural life rather than watching TV.  That was for the first 15 years of my life.”

Trinity teacher Mr. Jorge Serrano
file photo
Trinity teacher Mr. Jorge Serrano

As an adult, Serrano worked for the Colombian government as an architect.  He said, “I was working for the government of my state.  At the time, I had two construction companies, and I did some construction for the government.  Also, I was a consultant.”

While working for the government, threats of terrorism lingered.  Serrano said, “We had a situation with leftist groups, groups that wanted to take the power of our country.  They have fought against the government for almost 60 years.”

Serrano witnessed firsthand the dangers of these groups. He said, “They went to my condominium and they tried to kidnap (me). But luckily, and thank God, many things happened at the same time that avoided that.”

This made Serrano certain that it was time to move from Colombia.  He said, “It wasn’t the first time that they tried to do something against my family and myself, so I decided that it was time to move and find my family a safe place.”  

They went to my condominium and they tried to kidnap (me). But luckily, and thank God, many things happened at the same time that avoided that.

— Trinity teacher Jorge Serrano

Of all the places Serrano could have moved, he came to Louisville in 2000.  This was due to the fact that Serrano had ties to Louisville while living in Colombia.

“My niece had come here before for an exchange program.  She came to Sacred Heart to take her last high school year,” Serrano said. “I had met the host family, so I had been here two times before.”

This host family was a safe haven for Serrano during the turmoil in Colombia. “When this happened to us, they knew that and said, ‘Come here.  Our home is your home.’”

After finally settling in Louisville, Serrano found work as an architect.  However, after the company he worked for went out of business, he followed his passion and found work as a teacher.

Serrano said, “I taught in Venezuela for one year in 1992, but I taught at the college level.  So, I had that in my heart, that passion.  So, I decided to get my teaching certificate and start teaching.”

There was an adjustment period for Serrano when he settled in Louisville. Party etiquette in America was just one of those adjustments. Serrano was not accustomed to invitations with an ending time. “I was shocked the first time I was an invited to a party,” he said. “In our culture, telling people what time to leave is rude. I got an invitation that said you are invited to the party from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., but I knew later that that is how this culture is.”

Serrano has been back to Colombia three times since leaving.  “I have been back three times, but from the day that I came here to the first time that I went back, six years had passed,” he said.  “It was very sentimental to see my family, to see my mother and friends.”

Sophomore Parker Robinson, who is in Serrano’s Spanish II class, said of his teacher’s background. “I think it’s very interesting,” he said, “the cultural change that Señor must have gone through after his attempted kidnapping in Colombia.  I guess it shows that we should be very fortunate to live in a country like this.  It makes me very grateful of where I live.”