Saturday, October 30, 2010

National University

As I mentioned, the Diplomado class that I participated in was coordinated by the National University of Colombia.

This university was founded in 1867. It has the largest campus and the largest number of students (43,000 in Bogota and the six satellite campuses around the country) of any other university in the country. Seventeen buildings on this campus have been declared national monuments.

It is a highly competitive and well-respected university, and also known for its radical and progressive social movements, including many historic protests and rebellions, hosted on the campus. It is situated right in the same locality as the Colombian Menno-ville, and has wonderful open green spaces and trees. It also hosts amazing artwork, both officially and unofficially in the form of detailed graffiti.

It is situated across a busy street from our old apartment, and our family spent a lot of time roller-blading, picnicking, and rolling in the luscious grass on campus.


Here in Colombia it is common for professionals to pursue "Diplomados." Ranging from a variety of topics, these are like a post-graduate certifications. Last spring a colleague forwarded me an email announcement about one called "Methods of Psychosocial Accompaniment for Victims of Political Violence, with specific emphasis in torture, and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.¨ It was sponsored by reputable organizations in the field, and with only one day to respond before the deadline, I decided to submit my application. I was thrilled to discovered that they accepted both my colleague and me.

This was a series of courses over 120 hours at the National University of Colombia. While the work load and content was difficult, I moved back into the academic scene with a comfortability that allowed me to feel relaxed, confident, and knowledgeable. My classmates were very friendly and accepting of my poor Spanish. They worked hard to try and understand me instead of dismissing me when they did not understand. I thought the academic content was stimulating and prompted discussions, both intimate and intellectual that helped me put some of the work we do into a better context for understanding and analysis.

I left my last day there full of ideas, loaded with resources, and happy to have made some new Colombian friends, all of whom have devoted their lives to the healing of their country. Blessed be.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Las Piedras de Tunja

The schools here have a week long vacation in the Fall as well as in the Spring. Due to work commitments as well as time and money constraints, we were not able to travel far for vacation. However, we were blessed to have one day away from this city with friends in a small town outside of Bogota called Facatativa. There is a national park there with huge boulders and walking trails. Some of these boulders have artwork (old and new) painted on them. We packed a picnic and prepared for a lovely day to climb rocks, relax in "la naturaleza," and enjoy the company of friends.

I am always surprised how much the city environment takes a toll on us. It is only when we get away and can experience some time in the natural world that we really relax, absorb the fresh air, and feel the tension melt away.


I am pretty sure I have blogged about the fact that I have children who long to be crafty, and they have a mother who is simply....not.

Well, thanks for Grandma who sends materials and some enthusiasm from a neighbor, we are doing the very best we can.

A little bit of Kansas growing outside my window (thanks to Lydia)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Family Therapy

When you are stressed and tired from demanding homework assignments, work expectations, illnesses, strained relationships, homesickness, and too much rain, it is time to get away from the city and enjoy some time with friends.

So we did.

It is amazing how new light and laughter can help you see clearly again. We are so very grateful to have shared this time with the Pinzon family in Sopo.

Lydia thought these little doors were funny.

Andy got in some physical therapy as well.

Arequipe stuffed, chocolate covered plums. Now that was good for my soul.

A mild, dry cheese with blackberry sauce and caramel.