Nelson Freire (class of 2010) and Alexander Frye (class of 2011) conduct workshops for peace in Colombia with Joanna Rudge Long ’56 Awards

Nelson Freire (’10) and Alexander Frye (’11) were each awarded the Joanna Rudge Long ’56 Award in Conflict Resolution that is administered by the Peace and Conflict Studies program. Taller de Paz (Workshop for Peace) is currently featured on the front page of the college’s website.

fs_workshop_maintitle1Approximately 4.6 million civilians have been internally displaced by the civil war in Colombia. At all levels of the Colombian government, there has been systematic failure to adequately address the needs of the internally displaced population. Bogota, the country’s capital, is home to 17 percent of the internally displaced. Forty to 50 families arrive there daily and typically face very limited access to housing, food, jobs, education, and safety. Most families end up living in neighborhoods where violence and drugs are commonplace.

Launched last summer, Taller de Paz (Workshop for Peace) is a project we created working in conjunction with Conciencia Social (Social Conscience), a student group at the Colombian university La Javeriana. Our project received support from the College, La Javeriana, the Bogota local district government of Suba, several private businesses, grassroots organizations, and individual donors.

Our goals were to work with children ages 8-14 of displaced families living in the Suba district of Bogota, implementing a curriculum focused on developing leadership skills and self-expression, as well as encouraging peaceful resolution to conflict. This curriculum was composed of four talleres or workshops: art, technology/photography, social justice, and English/theater, each facilitated by a Swarthmore and Javeriana student pair. Each workshop was aimed at teaching some technical aspects of their subject which were then used as tools in order to actively engage the students in innovative projects designed to provoke reflection and critical thinking.

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