Monday, August 3, 2009

Conciencia Social Blog/Website

By Deivid Rojas:

If you wish to learn a little more about our partnership with Conciencia Social/La Javeriana, here is the link for their blog. Enjoy

Si les gustaria aprender un poquito mas sobre nuestra relacion con Conciencia Social/La Javeriana, aqui esta el link para el nuevo blog de ellos. Disfrutelo.

Protesting the Displacement Crisis

By: Deivid Rojas

On Saturday July 18, 2009 the Taller de Paz team (from Swat and La Javeriana) attended a protest/rally on the displacement crisis in Colombia. The protest was successful on many levels.

1. Though millions of people did not show up to the protest (more like a thousand), for the people that did go it was a great sacrifice, a sacrifice they were willing to make in order to expose the injustice. Some had to skip a day of work, pay transportation costs (from money they don’t have), but more admiringly, most had to sacrifice their safety. For many displaced individuals, identifying as “displaced” can be extremely dangerous because even in Bogota—displaced people still run the risk of the military, drug lords, the guerrilla, the para-militaries, or even the government wanting to cause them harm. Thus, this rally was not only a sign of protest, but also a significant symbol of courage.

2. 2. The day picked to hold the march was very strategic. Two days later, July 20, is Colombia’s Independence Day. By having the protest just two days before, the displacement community challenged the notion of Colombia’s Independence. They showed Colombians and the world that in fact independence in Colombia is not for all. Not for the displaced community.

3. One of the biggest issues in the displacement crisis is the common apathy of many Colombians (especially those living in the urban areas). Since most of the displaced community come from rural areas many Colombians living in the cities seem unaffected by it. Though, for example, the displaced community has significantly grown in Bogota over the years (affecting schools, public spaces, population, etc), the attitude of the rolo has not changed. Most think that the situation is all under in control. Therefore, this rally was a (forced ) attempt for the displaced community to be seen and heard by the rolos. To become visible in the eyes of the unaffected. To become Colombians.

Throughout the march there were many chants and songs, here were my favorite ones:

-Abajo el Govierno de Uribe! Abajo! Abajo! Abajo!

(Down with Uribe’s Government)

- Quienes Somos? Desplazados. De donde vivimos? Colombia, Colombia, Colombia

(Who are we? Displaced people. Where do we live? Colombia, Colombia, Colombia)

- Hay estan, hay estan, los que roban la nacion

(There they are, there they are, those that rob the nation)—This was said every time we passed a government office, a food/clothes chain, a person in suit.

- Abajo Accion Social! Abajo, Abajo, Abajo

(Down with Accion Social! Down, Down, Down)—Accion Social is the president’s agency that deals with many social issues, and is the one that is mainly dealing with the displacement issue. After talking to many of the families that participated in Taller de Paz, talking to la Defensorial del Pueblo in Colombia, and by witnessing this protest, the conclusion is that Accion Social is a complete failure, lyers, and frauds.

- Que se cumpla la ley 387! Que se cumpla, que se cumpla, que se cumpla!

(Fulfill Law 387!, Fulfill, fulfill, fulfill)—Law 387 is law that was passed in 1997 especially to address the displacement crisis. Obviously, this law was just constructed with false promises. You can read more about it here.

In Spanish:

In English:

- Somos desplazados, no somos delinquentes!

(We are displaced, not delinquents)

- El pueblo, sin techo, exige sus derechos!

(The community, without a roof, demands their rights)

I leave with some footage from the protest.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Presentaciones finales del taller de fotografía


Hey everyone!! We just got back from a week-long adventure on the costa caribeña of Colombia, and now it’s back to work for us again. Fuimos al Parque Tayrona (one of Colombia’s national parks), Santa Marta (the coastal city that Carlos Vives is from) and finished up our foray in Cartagena de Indias (a city saturated with history – founded in the early 16th century, it was one of South America’s first major cities and served as an extraction point for all the gold that the Spanish took from Latin America). These are only superficial descriptions of the beautiful places that we’ve been - I’ll leave it up to Deivid to fill everyone in with the complete details.

What I’d like to accomplish with this blog entry is to showcase one of the final projects produced in Deivid and I’s Photography Workshop. For the final projects, we gave our students two options from which to choose: they could either create a photographic “retrato” of their working partner’s life, or they could choose an issue in their community or in broader Colombian society and explore it through conducting interviews. What was great about the colegio in which we were working is that it happened to be in a very central location: close to the city hall of Suba, the Suba police station, and the Suba fire station. Additionally, the streets around the colegio were always bustling with people. This provided a great opportunity for the students that chose to conduct interviews. Deivid and I arranged for them to interview district councilmen at the city hall, the police chief, and people they met out on the street about the issues that they chose to explore.

In the taller de artes, our peer Camila had been facilitating discussions about community issues and the possibilities for change and for our final projects in fotografía many of the kids decided to further explore the issues that had been brought up in artes. Among the Topics generated by the kids for the final projects were the garbage disposal and contamination, homelessness, drug addiction, sexual abuse, and kidnapping.

Our goal for this project was for the kids to apply all the skills they’d learned throughout the Taller de fotografía, but more importantly for those skills to be a medium through which the kids could communicate with influential community leaders as equals. What resulted was just that. In the presentation below made by three of our students, Yeimy, Margarita, and Sonia, you can observe how through the process of conducting interviews they gained a sense of confidence in themselves and approached their adult interview subjects as equals. This can be observed in the way they carry themselves during the interviews, from questioning the answers provided by Edil (district councilwoman) Ana Cristina regarding homelessness, to the back and forth with the police chief about drug addiction.

We thought that this experience was really valuable for the kids for a couple reasons. One, it provided them with access to spaces and people that they wouldn’t normally have been able to access or hadn’t previously been interested in exploring. Two, we feel that the projects demonstrated to the kids what they are capable of achieving and that they have the power to voice their opinions and question authority figures. Both these issues, access and empowerment, were a recurring theme throughout the Taller de Paz; the final projects served to reinforce what had already been brought up in all of the talleres.

The progress the kids made in the three weeks of our taller was very impressive. The first week they barely knew how to use the cameras, and by the third week the cameras were being used to conduct projects like the one below. Before finishing I would like to note one more thing: our students only had four class periods to complete these projects. This means four hours to choose a topic, discuss it, create questions, conduct the interviews, and edit the presentations (using Imovie for the first time!). For this reason the presentations were a little basic in regards to editing but we still felt that what was produced was very cool and a testament to the kids creativity, energy and initiative. I would just ask that you keep in mind the time restraints while watching.

So without further ado, I present to you “Temas problematicas de Colombia” by Yeimy Contreras, Sonia Patiño, y Margarita Gutierrez (the subtitles were added by me).

Monday, July 20, 2009

La Graduación

Today was our last day with all of the kids. We held the graduation ceremony at the colegio Maximino. We started off with a small refregerio (snack) then presented each of the Talleres, then presented each kid with their diploma and a regalito (school supplies, TdP polo shirt, and a bag compliments of La Riviera Bags), and ended with a slideshow of the whole project.

Below are some of the videos we showed

Presentacion Final de Ingles y Lit from Alex Frye on Vimeo.

Fotografía from Alex Frye on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Movie Night

We talked with some of the students who will be working with us in the next few weeks on digital stories and they told us that they have never been to the movies. Due to the hard work that they have put in already, the projects that they will have to do, and that everyone should have the opportunity to go to the movies, we have decided to try to take them.

A movie ticket costs about 6 mil pesos or $3 US. Plus we are thinking we should probably buy everyone some popcorn to complete the experience so we need about $40. This is a great opportunity to donate just a few dollars (ie sponsor a kid's ticket/popcorn bag) and bring what for many of us is an 'everyday' activity to the TdP kids who have never gone.

Thank you for your support so far and for visiting our blog.

Visual Podcast

Untitled from Alex Frye on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Somos Hijos de La Revolucion, Nuestra Almas Gritan Revolucion (We are Children of the Revolution, Our Souls Scream Out Revolution)

By: Deivid Rojas

Before I start make sure to listen to the following song while you read my blogpost. The following song is what is probably the most classic/famous Colombian song---enjoy.

El Camino de La Vida.mp3

These last three weeks we have been extremely busy with the program, as Cami wrote (which explains the lack of updates on the blog). We finished the end of the curriculum based program, sad I know, but before I talk about that I will give a quick recap of things that have gone down the last three weeks.

Taller de Tecnologia/Fotografia:

The taller that I have been facilitating with Andres (El Taller de Fotografia y Tecnologia) has gone pretty well. The kids have really enjoyed it. The first week was more technological based, teaching the kids how to use the basic camera and computer functions. While the second week we focused more on the ability to tell stories through pictures. However, through out the whole program we have focused on individual expression through photography.

Some of the activities we have done are:

Mixing identity through pictures:

Making stories out of pictures:

Creating a comic book story

Connecting multiple pictures through stories

For the final project, which is a culmination of everything we have learned, the groups are created a digital presentation using iMovie. They went pretty well. The older groups had the choice of either pretending to be the president, doing a self-portrait, or choosing a problem facing Colombians.

We had a variety of topics chosen. Everything from garbage problems to the poverty problem in Colombia. This presentation has given the kids a great opportunity to use technology to explore these topics. During the whole last week, the kids had the opportunity to interview government officials, talk to the police, and start conversations with regular Colombian citizens on the streets. This was a great moment for our taller because it is where eventually we wanted to arrive at--using technology to explore issues and problems that affect the kid’s lives.

& Now, the Unscripted Colombia:

La Universidad Nacional:

A week and a half-ago the group ventured into the unknown, otherwise called La

Universidad Nacional branch in Bogota (La U, La Nacho). We were lucky that Camila had a connection there, otherwise we might have never gone. Once inside the sprawling campus, we met with some very kind and energized group of students who were nice enough to show us around. I had been to two of the most prestigious universities in Bogota, La Javeriana and Los Andes, indeed very nice. Nevertheless, as I walked around La Nacional, there was more to this University than ‘nicety’. La Nacional smelled like the sweat of revolutionaries, it looked like a passionate, flame-hearted mosaic of quotes where many of the walls were tagged, drawn

on, and muralized. For a moment there I imagined myself drawing on Swarthmore’s walls, but then I realized I would probably be tazered. Perhaps the coolest thing was walking through a campus so filled with history. Thanks to our student-guides, we got a glimpse of the complex/violent/exciting history of La U. The massacre of 1984, Che speaking at La U (the space where he spoke is now called La Plaza Che), and los piedrasos (consisting of students throwing bricks at the police)

This speaks to the kind of student activism that is experienced here and in other parts of Latin America. Not that there has not been such experiences in the U.S., but even currently many students in Colombia fight (literally) against the government while students in the U.S. have shifted to a more "cause activism".

Misc. Pictures:

Dre happy we got a filled fridge

A delicious cup of Colombian coffee

A Beautiful afternoon in the Calendaria area.

Almuerzo time!

Taller de Paz Materials

Up Next---Minutos! Kumis! What’s next--Look out for our podcast post

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Taller de Arte, Week 2

by Camila

Hola todos!

Mil discuplas for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks! We have been extremely busy every day with work. We just got home form our second to last day of Taller de Paz. Tomorrow will be our final event with all the kids, which will be a field trip to the Javeriana soccer field where we will be doing games, relay races, tug-o-war, a water balloon fight, and pickup soccer.

We have a lot of catching up to do, to share with everyone what we have been doing these last two weeks. Rather than write, I wanted to show photos from the second week of Taller de Arte. Enjoy!

The sign outside our classroom:

Grupo Rojo worked on Marimonda masks:

Grupo Rojo members, inlcuding Cristina, Yeison, Carlos, Andres, Karen and Laura work on their various art projects with "la profe Coco"

Juan Carlos painted his papier-mâché mask to show his Colombian pride, and got himself a little painted along the way...

Luisa also got some paint on herself...

Juan Pablo also made his mask to rep Colombia. He explained that it would come handy while watching soccer games of la selección Colombiana.

With the Green Group, which is of the group of the youngest kids in Taller de Paz (ages 6-9) we made finger puppets one day. Yorgen and Yohan show off their puppetry skills:

Edna Rocío and Yeimy from the older group work on a model of their community, aka their "maqueta de barrio" which represented issues they see in their community. They decided to include both the rural and urban settings in which they've lived.

Maqueta in progress...on one side you see the tall buildings of Bogotá, the river that divides the two (which they subsequently made to look contaminated to represent the river that runs through their neighborhood in Suba) and the countryside on the other side with some colorful cows in a pen.

Bus ride home on Friday of the second week of Taller de Paz. I really like going with the kids on the bus ride to pick them up in the morning and drop them off in the's a chance to hang out with the kids in a non-classroom setting, hear more of about their lives and families, talk to parents, and LAUGH!

More to come on the third and FINAL week of Taller de Paz which we just completed. We painted mural/banners in Taller de Arte! Look out for the photos of the murals to come soon!

And finally...sunset over Bogotá. In this huge city of more than 8 million people many different realities coexist. Like most huge cities in the global south, extreme wealth of a small percentage of the population masks the marginalization of the poor, who in Bogotá are often from displaced families that have arrived to a tight job market and discrimination because of their status as desplazados (and because desplazados are often Afro-Colombian, indigenous and women...more to come on the relationship between race, gender and displacement)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Defying “Beauty”, Colonial Structure, La Primera Maravilla, Los NO Uribistas, and Como Siempre More Amazing Comida.

By: Deivid Rojas

While the Taller de Paz group was preparing for the program last week, we got glimpse of some very interesting things:

1. Botero

On Thursday of last week, while pasiando around La Candelaria (Center City) we bumped into famous Colombia painter Fernando Botero’s museum. The museum, which used to be una casa colonial, has a a very large collection of Botero’s famous paintings. There are many different views on Botero’s purpose, such as using obesity to mock the rich and powerful. However, when I look at these paintings I see defiance. Defiance of the structures that are rooted in art and in society about the meaning of beauty. For example, in the following picture,

Botero gives this “gorda” a very sexual appeal, as implied by the fruit, the powerful colors, the whip (I like to believe its a whip), and the naked body of this woman.

2. Colonial Structure

Colombia, at least in Bogota, has kept some of the colonial organization left by the Spanish. This is best demonstrated by the continued importance of the “Plazas”. The following

These plazas were supposed to be the center of town, where government and administrative buildings are found, as well as well the towns church and schools.

Oh, and in the Plaza de Simon Bolivar (Bogota’s main plaza), you are bound to get attacked by pigeons.

3. La Primera Maravilla de Colombia

Last week on Father’s Day, the group, along with my family members, took a now tren turista, to go to Zipaquira. In Zipaquira, the famous salt mining town of Colombia, the group descended to the famous “Salt Cathedral” of Colombia. Voted, Colombia’s First Wonder, the cathedral is simply breathtaking, even for the non-religious. And yes, it is all made out of salt. Just lick the floor and walls!

4. Los NO Uribistas:

And now, for some political analysis. After almost seven years since President Uribe came to power, many readings on Colombia, and a Latin American Politics class, and I still have not decided if I am Uribista, leaning towards no. President Uribe is praised for his firm hand against the guerrilla movement, the drug war, and for making Colombia safer. Nevertheless, many things get missed from this analysis. During Uribe’s administration, the displacement crisis in Colombia has significantly increased (making Colombia the country with the most critical internal displacement crisis in the world), drug trafficking and production has also increased. Thus, yes its true that the guerrilla crisis is under more control, but at the cost of many innocent lives. That is the lives of farmworkers and villagers.

So, while talking with one of my Taller de Paz colleagues, Sandra, who is from Colombia. She made me realize the in fact Uribe has made Colombia safe. But, not safe for all. Safe for those who have money and live in the cities.

5. To leave on a good note. Here is more amazing Colombian food, yes, espero que se pongan celosos.

Crispy arepas.

Patacon, con carne y aguacate.

Crepes and Waffles: Cheese and Mushroom Creppe


Two Golden Buñuelos

And some miscellianous pictures:

Me drinking Colombian coffee!

Skyline of the north of Bogota
Dre and Cami cooking

Stay put, Up Next: The first week, Candelario Obeso, Colombian music.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

First week of Taller de Arte

by Camila

Saludos a todos! We are so happy to hear people are enjoying our Taller de Paz blog! We are enjoying a leisurely Saturday after a busy and exciting first week of Taller de Paz. I wanted to share with everyone what we've been up to in the Art and Muraling Workshop. The two main projects we worked on this week were "Auto-retratos" (self-portraits) and the creation of masks inspired by the Carnaval de Barranquilla. The Carnaval de Barranquilla is celebrated every year in February the Saturday to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The most famous masks from the Carnaval de Barranquilla are the "Marimondas" which are anthropomorphic elephant representations which reflect the diversity of Colombia's Caribbean region. These "elephant" masks began as a mockery of the upper classes. The Marimondas and the Carnaval de Barranquilla's other masks and dances reflect the combination of African, Indigenous and European cultures that exist in Colombia. Here are some photos from the Carnaval and the Marimonda masks:


Since we are working with such varied age groups, the focus of the self-portraits changed depending on what made sense for each age bracket. With the older kids the self-portraits included their Head (what they think about and worry about on a daily basis), their Heart (the people and places that are most important to them) and their Stomach (what they like to do and eat). To do this they had newspapers and magazines to cut out and colored pencils and markers with which to color. With they younger kids (ages 6-9) we let them do their self-portraits including cut-outs of anything they liked. One of our younger students decided to represent himself as a dinousaur. I will share photos of the self-portraits in my next post.

Carnaval de Barranquilla Masks

My Art Workshop partner Angélica, and I, began this activity by asking the students if they new of any events in Colombia where there were masks. To my surprise even to youngest kids knew about the Marimondas and the Carnval de Barranquilla. I have loved this activity because the Taller de Paz participants were really excited to make their Marimonda and Tigre masks for the Carnaval de Barranquilla - a hugely important Colombian cultural event that they've all heard about but never been to. I also learned a lot from the students through this activity, since they know much more than I do about the Carnaval. With the younger students we made the masks out of cardboard and paint, glitter, blue and yarn. We are still working with some of the older kids on newspaper papier-mache masks of Marimondas. Below are some photos of the masks (more to come!):

Next week we will begin "maquetas de barrios" or models of the student's neighborhoods where they have to represent in 3-D from their communities and include issues that are present which they would like to change or address (some initial ideas were the presence of drugs, lack of activities for young people and poor trash management services which contaminate and attract rats). We started brainstorming ideas at the end of this week and people seemed very excited about this project. We told them to think about their maqueta as if they were presenting it to local community leaders and elected officials, giving them a young person's perspective on what must be done to improve their neighborhoods in Suba of La Gaitana, El Rincón and Lisboa. Additionally we will begin brainstorming for the mural that everyone in Taller de Arte will create. We are hoping to bring in some muralists and graffiti artists from Bogotá as guest artists and presenters. I'm excited for the coming weeks!

Lastly, I'd like to share with you the usual scene at home with my Taller de Paz family: everyone working, lesson planning and blog posting in front of their compu's:

besos y abrazos a todos desde Bogotá!