"Platforms and Passageways" Summer Research in Columbia
This summer, two students involved in the “Platforms and Passageways” project travelled to Colombia to continue the research they began in class. Albert DeCaprio conducted interviews with municipal officials on the implementation of the Victims’ Reparation and Land Restitution Law and engaged in participant-observation with victims’ and community organizations. He also continued to choreograph the dance he began in class and we filmed this process for possible use in a video project.
Saira Butt worked throughout the summer on the maps she began in class, travelling to San Carlos, Colombia to update these maps and share the information with both the municipal government and the rural development council. The national institution charged with facilitating victims’ reparation and internal refugee return expressed interest in using the methodology and maps as part of the process of creating plans for providing assistance to internally displaced families returning to their homes.
About the experience, Saira writes,
I got to learn about community reconstruction by participating in a methodology that pulls knowledge from different departments and groups of people onto a single map. It was the practical experience of interdisciplinary collaboration that goes beyond the bolded textbook keyword.
My experience in San Carlos was different from other international education experiences because it wasn’t a defined program. We were working directly with the local government, adapting to their needs without having other pre-defined requirements to fulfill. It was more like a real-world project placement than an academic program. As each country has its own history, this project had a unique context in one of Colombia’s post-conflict communities. In addition to assessing basic community needs such as first aid kits and school furnishings, there was also a special sensitivity to the violence and displacement in its very recent history. I got to experience firsthand the efforts to reconcile the complexity of displacement and return with community development.