Thursday, October 23, 2008

TWM's Close-Up on Colombia

On Tuesday evening, TWM members and friends gathered at La Pequeña Colombia Restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens, for TWM’s Close-Up on Colombia. This event brought many folks to a neighborhood that was new to us, in the heart of an area known as "Little Colombia," where we enjoyed a delicious Colombian meal, shared at one large table.

The program centered on a four-member panel of people with varying experiences in and perspectives about Colombia. Francisco Sierra Toro, a Trade Specialist with the Colombia Government Trade Bureau, spoke about the work he has done to push past the common stereotypes about Colombia and to make people aware of the richness and positivity inherent in Colombia’s land, history and culture. Adriana Aristizabal, Cultural Attaché and Press Contact for the General Consulate of Colombia in New York, shared videos and experiences of her past work as a journalist in conflict-ridden areas. Patricia Sacristan, a Colombian-born development professional, talked about her experiences as a young person in Colombia, and an immigrant. Jenny Shapiro, an American and avid traveler, fell in love with Colombia on her first visit. She spoke about her travels and her work with human rights organizations operating in Colombia.

The panelists responded to questions from the audience, and the discussion gradually opened into a time of sharing for everyone. Colombians who attended had a chance to speak about their own experiences, which gave everyone a richer understanding of the culture, as well as lots of laughter and many heartfelt thoughts. We were also joined by representatives from Caring for Colombia, a non-profit organization that works to build bridges of support between the U.S. and Colombia. A portion of the proceeds from the event went to support their work with internally displaced women in Colombia, which ranks second in the world after Sudan. To top off the festivities, the evening concluded with fabulous live music, provided by Gregorio Uribe, and a salsa dance demonstration led by Jasper Marzola and Katherine Chacon, with many of the guests joining in!

The Close-Up gave us a positive image of Colombian culture, and the passion that Colombians have for their country and for life in general. It opened our minds to the many diverse, joyful possibilities that exist outside of our own experiences. We left with full bellies, and a new understanding of the complex politics, vibrant culture and passionate people of Colombia. Many of us also left hoping to be able to travel to Colombia soon to experience this wonderful place firsthand. All in all, it was a night to remember!

If you were there, please share some thoughts about the event! If you weren't, what would you like to hear more about?


Kekla Magoon said...

I had a great time at the event. I loved the food and the music, and especially the chance to see a new neighborhood, since I had never been to "Little Colombia" before.

I liked that the panelists showed videos, so we could see the people, architecture, and landscapes that typify Colombia. This was helpful to me, to be able to visualize what everyone was talking about!

It was also really inspiring to know how passionate Colombians are about their country and culture. Hearing people talk about their experiences definitely helped me to see beyond some of the immediate connotations that come to mind when I think of Colombia.

Anonymous said...

Was a great experience , know about the Colombian culture.
i wanna go to cartegena

Katherine chacon said...

I was invited to the event as a performer, and was extremely excited to see what a tremendeous job so many people are doing in benifit of my country.I was born in Colombia, but was raised in NYC from the of 9. Its like us Colombians say, "we carry our pride as colombians where ever we go." But after so many years being away from my country having been raised Colombian-American, we tend to forget the struggles our contry and our people specially women still go through today. This event was extremely inspiring for me, seeing specially how people outside our culture are as passionate as we are. Thank you to all the organizer of this event. And to anyone who is reading please support this organization. They do an excellent job!!!
Katherine Chacon

Anonymous said...

The Columbia event was a wonderful combination of people, education, music and food. It was a great experience and I look forward to the next event.

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