Tag Archives: barranquilla

Update part 2: Parents and GLOW

Crumleys in Colombia!

My parents finally came to visit! They set aside three weeks to come and follow me around my PCV life, going to classes with me, meeting all my pueblo friends, and even tagging along to girls’ camp. It was both surreal and exciting to have my parents–my biggest support during my service, always available via Facetime or Skype to listen to my successes and challenges and to give me toilet-plunging advice–finally in Colombia. Getting to merge my two worlds for a few weeks was both stressful and rewarding, stressful because of the 24/7, two-way translating, and rewarding because it gave me a chance to see my host country through fresh eyes.

In spite of Spirit Airlines, they made it to Cartagena (only a day late and baggage-less.) They flew in and we made it into the city just in time for sunset over the historic walled city, making the cathedral domes glow. As

My parents in my pueblo!
My parents in my pueblo!

we walked around the enchanted city, we saw a wedding procession with cumbia drums, and watched a mapale presentation in the park. My parents tried their first arepa con queso, then jugo de mango. 

When they AND their baggage both finally arrived in Puerto Colombia, I got to introduce them to my Colombian life. I took them to visit each of my favorite families, meeting the kids I’ve watched grow and hearing the stories the grandpas love to tell over and over again.

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My mamas, L to R: Rocio, Linda and Mildred
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My dads, Frank and Don (missing Mario, in Argentina!)
As my American parents were coming in to town, my Colombian mama was moving out, going to Argentina to be with her husband. Before she left, we had a goodbye dinner with all my “parents” present: my American parents (theonesthatbirthedme), my Colombian mama (missing my Argentine papa!) and my Colombian papa and Ecuadorian mama, all at one table! This kid felt pretty loved, all of them sharing stories and conspiring to get me married (this is a dangerous combination.) Family, in all forms and definitions, is one of the things that makes life most worth living.

I was able to introduce my parents to all aspects of my Peace Corps life, including classes at my school; my weekend class in Barranquilla; each of the families I’m closest to here in my town; the Peace Corps staff; other volunteers; my favorite Colombian foods.

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Mom getting to know some of my students
At my school, they sat in on a few of Ines’ and my 10th and 11th grade classes. That week, we were working on reading comprehension and test taking skills, but before class started, I introduced my parents and made the students ask questions in English. The best part was when they taught my dad some of the local slang–he was a hit!

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That finca life

The last few days of their visit, I took my parents to visit two different fincas, or farms in the hills near my town, farms owned by family members of my friends. There, we took advantage of the laid-back, simple lifestyle of drinking fresh mango juice, helping to cook over the fire, and sitting around telling stories in the darkness when the solar panel electricity runs out. Some of the most special memories in Colombia happen in these moments, away from the complicated mixture of society and instead captured one savored story at a time.

Their visit was well-timed in terms of my cultural integration cycle (the PC gives us this scarily-accurate graph of a PCV’s adaptability phases) and I felt privileged to be able to introduce my parents to the Colombia that I know so well now. It’s nice to be a “local”, to understand most jokes and know how to get around. Seeing my parents interact with my host gente made me proud of the people and places I’ve grown to love. This really is an incredible place, filled with great people, and seeing it through my parents’ eyes was just the perspective I needed.

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Happy to introduce my parents to the enchanting Cartagena de la India

Girls Leading Our World: Camp GLOW in Colombia

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Camp Glow 2015: 37 Colombian teenage girls from across the Caribbean coastal region and 13 PCVs pc: Richard Grijalva

Summer camp…

Singing songs around the campfire.

Hiking and friendship bracelets.

New friends and wind-up cameras.

The idea of camp always energizes me. As a camper, then a counselor, wrangler and finally director, I’ve seen summer camp from every angle.

And from every angle, the camp experience continues to be unique, unforgettable and powerful, with the potential to be life-changing and to act as a catalyst for learning and growth for all the kids involved.

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A camper helps pick up trash with a positive service attitude.

Camp and PCVs  One of the most rewarding project opportunities for a PCV is to bring that once-in-a-lifetime experience to the kids we  serve.  Continue reading Girls Leading Our World: Camp GLOW in Colombia

“I was mother and father to my kids” // “Yo fui padre y madre para mis hijos”

 

Elisa

Author’s note: Elisa is a very special person in my house here in Colombia. She and my host mom have known each other for 20 years, sharing a friendship in addition to an employer-housekeeper relationship. She is a positive and patient presence in our house, teaching me her delicious cooking techniques and telling stories about her grandchildren. She is a perfect exemplification of the beautiful strength and endurance of Colombian women. This is her story. 

I left my village, Momil, displaced by the injustice

Momil is a town in Cordoba province
Momil is a town in Cordoba province

and violence. They killed a lot, seizing peoples’ homes and terrorizing everyone. People lived in desperation.

Continue reading “I was mother and father to my kids” // “Yo fui padre y madre para mis hijos”

“I wear a different color ensemble every day” // “llevo un color distinta cada dia”

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Kike the Taxista

” I started driving a taxi after I retired, and I make enough money to pay for shirts and shoes. I wear a different color every day.”

“Have you ever seen “Yo Me Llamo?” I competed and we sang a salsa song. See here in this photo? That’s my face. Same face!”

“I don’t sing anymore, but I still dance. Give me your phone number and we’ll go dancing. Boyfriend? I didn’t see one! ”

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“Despues de que me jubile, regrese a mi tierra de Barranquilla y compre el taxi. Gano suficiente para comprar camisetas y zapatos para combinar–llevo un color distinto cada dia!”

“Has visto “Yo Me Llamo?” Yo concurse. Ves esta foto? Soy yo! La misma cara!”

“Ya no canto, pero aun bailo. Dame tu numero de celular y te invito a bailar. Novio? Como se dice: No vio ninguno!”

“I’m an observer of the peace process” // “soy observador del proceso de paz”

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“There’s so much to be done here. The people have this capacity to invent ways to survive; I love the informality of this culture.”

Trained as a journalist and brimming with stories from Vietnam to Alexandria, Ricardo is a native barranquillero who says his work now is to report as an “observer of the peace process.” I met him in our shared favorite coffee shop, where he rotates between a Coetzee novel and a sketchbook.

“One day overseas, the US Navy base invited the press to a movie night. ‘Zorba the Greek.’ Zorba wanted to live as if he would die tomorrow.” Now, I live for today, and I meditate. The mind has to be quiet to live in the moment.

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“Hay mucho que hacer. La gente aqui tiene la capacidad de inventarse sobrevivir. Me gusta la informalidad.”

Periodista de carrera y lleno de historias de Vietnam a Alejandria, Ricardo es barraquillero nativo y dice su trabajo actual es reportar en el proceso de paz. Lo conoci en nuestro cafeteria mutual, donde el da turno entre una novela de Coetzee y un cuaderno de dibujo.

“Un dia afuera, el US Navy invito a la prensa venir a ver una pelicula. ‘Zorba el Griego.’ Zorba quiso vivir si fuera a morir manana.” Ahora, vivo para hoy y hago meditacion. La mente debe estar quieta para vivir a la hora.

[ This is a post in the series titled “#carasdecolombia.” I post stories, photos and interviews using this hashtag. Please feel free to add to the collection with your own pictures and stories! And yes, shout out to @humansofny for the initial inspiration for such a project. ]

Presenting…Project #CarasDeColombia

Note: This is the first post in a series titled “#carasdecolombia.” I will be posting stories, pictures and interviews using this hashtag. Please feel free to add to the collection with your own pictures and stories! And yes, shout out to @humansofny for the initial inspiration for such a project.  

The Colombia that I’ve gotten to know these past two years can be described in one word: vibrant. The colors are bold, the music loud, the smiles bright and

Agriculture and livestock industries in Colombia
Agriculture and livestock industries in Colombia

the hugs warm. This Colombia boasts abundant natural resources (Amazon rainforest, deserts, coffee farms, rivers and two oceans). This Colombia was recently featured on CNN Money for its “booming economy” and growth in the technology industry. This Colombia teems with trendy backpackers and cruisers, drawn to the colonial coast and lush interior. This Colombia, to me, is enjoyingherselfcharacterized by the photo at right.

But unfortunately, this Colombia has been overshadowed by a different Colombia. It’s got several decades of darkness and a reputation that hangs over the present generation. Of all the conversations I’ve had with thousands of Colombians, a constant question I get is, “what do Americans think about Colombia?” What they mean is, “do Americans think that Colombians are all drug traffickers and terrorists?”

Honestly, I hope not. But thanks to Hollywood, TV stereotypes and some mean kids in New Jersey who teased my student’s Colombian-American cousins, there is still a lot of work to do.

Though it would be impossible to define an average Colombian, I can capture real, living and dreaming people and show their reality.

This project shares snapshots of conversations and the stories of Colombia.This project aims to show the new face to the name Colombia, utilizing the hashtag #carasdecolombia, or faces of Colombia.

This is your, my, our Colombia.

Estrenando….Project #CarasDeColombia

Nota: Este es el primer articulo en un serie titulado: #CarasDeColombia. Voy a agregar historias, fotos y entrevistas usando el hashtag. Por favor, agreguen a la colecion con sus propios fotos y historias! Y si, gracias a @humansofny por la inspiracion inicial de un proyecto de este tipo.  

La colombia que yo he conocido estos dos años se puede describir en una sola palabra: vibrante. Los colores son fuertes, la musica dura, las sonrisas brillantes y los abrazos grandes.

Esta colombia clama recursos naturales abundantes (la selva amazona, desiertos, las

Industrias naturales de Colombia
Industrias naturales de Colombia
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Negrita Puloy en las carnavales 2014

fincas de cafe, rios y dos costas). Esta colombia es reconocida por su crecimimento de economia y potencial tecnologica. Esta colombia esta lleno de mochileros de moda y turistas, atractivos a la costa colonial y el interior bonito. Esta colombia, para mi, se caracteriza por la foto a la derecha. 

Pero desafortunadamente, esta colombia tiene sombra de otra colombia. Han pasado unas decadas de oscuridad y una mala reputacion sigue rondeando la generacion de hoy. De todas las miles de conversaciones que he tenido con colombianos, una pregunta frequente es: “que piensan los norteamericanos sobre colombia?” Es decir, “los norteamericanos creen que los colombianos son todos narcotraficantes y terroristas?”

Espero que no. Pero gracias a Hollywood, los estereotipos de TV y unos niños malos en Nueva Jersey quienes tormentaron a los primos de mi estudiante, queda mucho por hacer.

Este proyecto tiene meta de poner una nueva cara al nombre de Colombia. Aunque sea imposible definir un colombiano tipico, yo puedo captuar personas vivas y sonantes, y mostrar su realidad. Este proyecto comparte viñetas de conversaciones y las historias de Colombia.

Esta es mi, tu, nuestra Colombia.

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I Just Podcast-ed about Colombia and Culture

You know how you usually hate the sound of your own voice? Well, I conquered that fear recently and served as a guest on Walking the Earth podcast. Mike Margolies is a fellow traveler and has a great podcast about the travel lifestyle, doing podcasts with travelers and expats of all different walks of life. Each episode is an open conversation about traveling and wherever else the topic leads.

Our conversation, recorded about a month ago, is about anonymity, navigating cultural differences, the idea of “home” and the evolution of relationships due to technology.

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Podcaster!

Please, check out the episode and show Walking the Earth some love! Enjoy!

Journey on,

Shanna

P.S. Remind me never to say “and stuff” again.

Costeno Body Language 101

Have you ever seen a coastal Colombian talk? It’s 85% body language with animated facial expressions, broad hand gestures and full-body emphasis on the Most Important Points. Even their feet are fidgety, listo to break into a salsa step. Imaginate what it’s like when the subject matter actually involves dancing!

Because or body language is so central to the culture, the idiosyncratic gestures and facial expressions are essential communication tools to survive as adopted costenos.

Once you master these haptics, your cultural fluency will skyrocket, your language skills will improve, and costenos everywhere will adore you (if only to laugh at you.)

How to Ask for Clarification with Your Nose 

This is the costeno shrug, the Colombian gesture for the universal “huh?” Use this gesture to say you don’t understand, to ask for the speaker to repeat their statement, to indicate a doubt or question, or to amuse your host family.

Continue reading Costeno Body Language 101

Culture Spotlight: Cumbia

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Cumbia queens at my school

Cumbia is a sacred word on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, especially during Carnaval season. The dance is a mesmerizing infusion of Spanish dance, African drumbeats and indigenous instruments, an ode to the history of this region. It’s also my personal favorite dance, so I’m going to introduce you to this stunning cultural masterpiece. Continue reading Culture Spotlight: Cumbia