Saludos a todos!
I’m excited to be writing my first Taller de Paz blog entry. Here were are, the night before the Welcome/Bienvenida for the parents and kids that will be participating in the Taller de Paz program. Tomorrow we will finally see the fruits of our labor—a binational brainstorming, planning, coordinating and creative process that began more than five months ago. We are excited, nervous and anxious to see how tomorrow will turn out. We have around 50 kids signed up for the program, and after interviewing parents and making follow up calls we hope that tomorrow at the Bienvenida we have a full house in the auditorium of the Casa de la Participación de Suba (“House of Participation” in the district of Suba). For the Bienvenida we will be introducing ourselves to kids and parents, doing “actividades de integración” (integration activities) with the kids, while giving parents a more in depth description of the project and doing small group question and answer so we can respond to any concerns parents may have. We will end the Welcome event with delicious food for everyone in attendance. On Tuesday we begin our regular programming from 10am to 3:30pm with our morning icebreaker and the four daily workshops: Photography, English & Language, Social Justice and Art & Muraling (my workshop!).
Since my arrival in Bogotá a week ago we have been busy meeting with our wonderful and committed student partners from la Universidad Javeriana to solidify both logistical details (e.g. outreach, transportation, food and materials) as well as the day-to-day functioning of the four weeks of the Taller de Paz (e.g. curriculum planning, coordination of the workshops and field trips/special events). Much of this had been figured out before, but of course there are always last minute details. Below are photos from our various meetings this week (what could be more exciting that photos of a meeting!? haha).
Besides meeting with all the Taller de Paz coordinators (Javeriana & Swat students), we have had a chance to get to know our contacts in Suba, within the local government as well as different organizers that do work in the community.
On Thursday and Friday parents came to sign their children up for the program. Those were the first days that we got to know the families with which we will be working and hear about their experiences as internally displaced people that have recently arrived to Bogotá. Alex and Andres were the members of the Swarthmore team that helped conduct interviews, along with Sandra, Angélica, Diana and Katherin from the Javeriana team. I will allow them to share more in depth about these experiences. What has become apparent is the degree of violence and loss that displaced families live with; many families that we interviewed have had their children killed and once they moved to Bogotá have found it extremely difficult to find employment. There seemed to be great interest in the Taller de Paz program.
We hope that tomorrow will be the beginning of a process of growth and community-building that will take Taller de Paz from a seed of an idea to an empowering, collaborative and relevant program for kids from displaced families in Bogotá.