20 Abril 2017

Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.

“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.” 

-Benito Juárez

 

April 20th, 2017

An early start to the day that began with a trip to the Caribbean Museum.  On the steps of the museum was a statue of the famous Colombian author, Gabriel García Márquez, and within the museum I was introduced to the diversity and beauty of the Colombian people, culture, language, land, and history.  After our visit to the museum, we headed over to Barranquilla’s Universidad del Norte where I delivered a talk and workshop introducing myself, the work of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the city of Detroit, and presented several different tools to define conflict, promote peace, and build and strengthen communities.

I struggled quite a bit to deliver both the workshop and the presentation in Spanish, but I was able to communicate with the help of my YLAI host, Paula Porras.  It was fascinating to listen to the responses and input of many of the community members and university students that were able to attend the talk.  I was especially humbled by a member of the community who perfectly articulated the mindset that feeds and fuels conflicts as well as the weight of hope for peace that is balanced on the shoulders of millions of Colombians as the terms of the peace agreement are being reached.  She pointed to the university students in the room saying simply that they are the hope for the future.  She then turned to me in order to say thank you not only for the talk and the workshop, but for giving her hope.

If I had the language skills, I would have said it wasn’t me that gave her that hope.  One person alone does not deserve that much credit.  I would have said it was seeing her community in action, watching herself activate her voice, her body, and her ideas in order to become a part of that community, and seeing that that community extends beyond the borders of Barranquilla, Colombia, and even South America that gave her that hope.  That it was that beautiful moment of discovery when you realize that millions of people everywhere are working towards the formation of these beloved communities of peace that gave her this feeling. I know I feel this way each and every time I find another peacemaker in this world.  But in that moment all I could do was clasp my hands to my heart and repeat the empty words, “thank you, thank you, thank you,” and hope she understood the worlds of meaning hidden beneath them.

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