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Walking the Pathways of Peace
On November 24th, 2016, the government of Colombia signed a historic peace agreement with the FARC, bringing an end to one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. The agreement stood as a signpost for the years of rising growth, safety, and stability within Colombia, and delivered a welcome promise of peace for the nation as a whole.
To meet this promise, a wide variety of actors are working in both public and private sectors to build (and rebuild) their national identity and establish a social contract that works for all Colombians. They are challenged not only by the demands of justice, but also from the longstanding systemic inequalities that sustained the conflict. These extant obstacles are matched by the spirit and idealism of the movement, as the pathways of peace in Colombia are made by those who walk on them.
Exploring these paths is a prerogative of global education, as the social and economic rifts in Colombia echo those around the world. More than 75 per cent of the world’s population live in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s, leading the United Nations to include the reduction of inequality in the Sustainable Development Goals.
GEBG students will delve into the social, cultural and economic dynamics that give rise to poverty, bringing reality to the idea of development and building their own perspective on how we can best ensure the well-being and inherent rights of all members of the global society.
We meet with members of the government negotiation team, learning about the process of negotiations with the FARC and their personal thoughts on being a part of such a major shift in the history of the country.
Enseña por Colombia
Drawing on Teach For America’s model, Enseña por Colombia has played a major role in transforming the public rural schools of the country. We meet with the management team and learn about the impact possible from a focused mindset of serving others.
The Boyacá district holds hundreds of small towns that preserve traditional ways of life. From our base in perfectly preserved colonial Villa de Leyva, we travel around the area, interacting with locals and building a deeper understanding of the magic behind the traditions within the rural communities.
Longtime home of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cartagena is considered by many as the most beautiful city in Colombia, with mazes of cobbled alleyways, balconies shrouded in bougainvillea, and a mysterious doors leading to unseen worlds. We take in the beauty, and then look beyond to explore the forces serving to unite and divide the people of Cartagena.
We visit the communities of Ararca and Santana in the island of Barú for a cultural exchange project with local schools and community centers that provides an opportunity for both the island community members and our students to learn about each other.
Alianza Educativa represents a new model of ‘charter school’ for Colombia, providing youth from the poorest neighborhoods of Bogota with the highest quality of education ever seen in the public sector. We meet with the organization’s founding team, learning about their vision for bringing populations together.
The following schedule provides one projection of the 2017-18 program, including preparation and travel. Alterations will be made to meet the educational needs of traveling students.
The following topics will be covered during the online modules of the program:
It’s Colombia, Not Columbia
A curated series of videos, articles, and other media illustrates the key elements that make up modern Colombian identity.
Students learn about the natural resources and geography of Colombia, considered to be one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.
We touch upon Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s legacy to literature, and learn about the magical realism genre of writing, and its applications to other media.
Students review the rise of the cocaine industry within Colombia, learning about the impact of American involvement and the significance of Pablo Escobar for Colombian society.
Breakdowns and Breakthroughs
Students review the events that gave rise to the FARC and the paramilitaries within Colombia, the gradual establishment of order, and the factors that led to success for the negotiations in Havana.
The following schedule provides one projection of the travel program. Alterations will be made to meet the educational needs of traveling students.
Day 1 Arrival
Students fly into Bogota to begin the program.
Day 2 Understanding Bogota
We move through the capital city, learning the people and places that make the city unique.
Days 3-4 Peacemakers
We meet with educators, entrepreneurs, and government officials involved with the peace process in Colombia.
Days 5-6 Boyaca
Traveling into the countryside allows us to better understand the realities of rural life in the nation.
Days 7-9 Cartagena
We fly to the coast, continuing to visit the communities on the island of Baru.
Day 10 Departure
We depart from Colombia, ready to share our learning with our friends and families.
Why Collaborative Programs?
The GEBG places great value on offering collaborative travel programs for students and faculty from member schools. The collaborative model brings together students from different schools to work together before, during, and after the travel experience. A set of foundational online courses establishes a common knowledge base, after which teams of students collaborate to conduct their own research and educate the group. Teachers from member schools have opportunities to integrate the program themes and content into their classroom curriculum and make alterations to program elements to best fit the enrolled students.
These programs epitomize the quality of programs GEBG members desire to offer their students—including extensive pre-departure preparation, student collaboration, and itineraries that will students to understand the complexity of development and take action in the global arena.
I feel like I have gained a great amount of knowledge about Colombia through a socio-economic perspective, understanding all of the changes that are occurring and all of the people who act as catalysts for those changes.Isabella, Student GEBG Colombia 2016
I learned a lot about Colombia, both pre conflict and post, not only in terms of the people, but the government as well. My goals were completely fulfilled, because we were able to interact with locals and interview companies to find out what they are doing to help Colombia further develop.Curtis, Student GEBG Colombia 2016
My goals were to learn about post-conflict Colombia and step out of my comfort zone. These were fulfilled each and every day through activities, reflections, and firsthand experience.Julia, Student GEBG Colombia 2016
My personal experience with this program was perfect! The great attitudes, connections, and differences made everyone amazing to be around!Jordyn, Student GEBG Colombia 2016
I loved how much I connected with the Colombian people. It made me really happy to understand people that are different than me and their kindness is infectious!Julia, Student GEBG Colombia 2016
I loved getting to experience different areas of Colombia and interact with many types of people, because it gave me a better understanding of the complexities of Colombian culture and society, especially in terms of post-conflict development.Lakshmi, Student GEBG Colombia 2016
The team bonding was a very special opportunity to get to know everyone–I will always cherish the friendships we established!Selina, Student GEBG Colombia 2016