26 May UF in Colombia Day 6: Local Perspectives in Medellín
The travel group’s second day in Medellín started off with a visit to University of Antioquia: the oldest departmental university in Colombia, founded in 1803. It is a public university, known as one of the best in Colombia. The travel group was greeted by professors in sociology and anthropology, and the meeting covered topics such as the university’s involvement in the peace process, the question of land ownership, inequality, paramilitarism, the exploitation of natural resources, and the conflict between the global and the local that affects many aspects of Colombian politics. The meeting was enlightening, and it was very interesting to get an academic perspective on these matters.
After a quick lunch on the street, the group continued the day with a trip up the mountainous terrain of Medellín. A bumpy and steep bus ride later, we arrived at Comuna 8, a suburb in the mountains that has been heavily affected by the Colombian conflict. There we got to meet with the youth organization Mesa de Trabajo de Jovenes based in the neighborhood La Sierra. The organization is made up of different groups, some groups centered on arts and sports, and others pertaining to the local school and church. The organization works to improve how La Sierra is seen, and make it a peaceful and prosperous place to live. This is realized through different projects, such as the eco park that the neighborhood’s residents helped realize in collaboration with the government. This is part of a bigger project creating a green belt around the entire city of Medellín, constituting the city’s lungs, and help control urban sprawl. Another project was a mural created by the community, in an attempt to make the neighbourhood more beautiful and visible from other parts of the city. The organization strives to create a meeting point for local youth to engage in developing the community in a peaceful and positive direction. It was incredibly inspiring to meet these local young entrepreneurs and hear about their experiences and goals for the future of their community. The entire travel group was in awe of their hard work, commitment and vision.
After the meeting the group soared over Medellín in a Metrocable (gondola lift) that is part of a grand infrastructural project going on in the city to improve transportation between different neighborhoods. The metrocable is said to transport residents across socioeconomic boundaries.
After descending down to the city center, the day was ended at a local food court hosting a variety of food from all around the world. Another great day in Colombia!
//Ulrika och Rebecca