Colombia: Stories of Peace and Resistance, Sample Itinerary

Week 1 Meeting up in Miami we fly together to the city of Cali in southwestern Colombia. From there we travel to the Sibundoy Valley where we partner with a foundation that is dedicated to protecting the ecological and cultural diversity of the south Colombian Andes-to-Amazon corridor. With our hosts were contribute to a tree planting project as part of the creation of a giant forest of peace, while learning about permaculture and discussing issues such as sustainable development and climate change. We will take advantage of this beautiful territory to get to know each other, share our goals and expectations for our time together, learn about intercultural communication, and have our first Spanish lessons. After a few days we travel to the municipality of Silvia, where we begin our first homestay with indigenous communities that teach us about the history of Colombia and what identity means in times of globalization. Here we continue our Spanish classes and explore independent study topics while participating in the daily activities of the community.
Week 2 Traveling to the vibrant city of Bogotá, we share with groups of young people who are working on the construction of peace and sustainability through the arts, culture and cycling. One of Latin America’s largest cities, Bogotá is a mega diverse urban center with people and cultures from all regions of Colombia. Get ready to tour the savannah and outlying hills of Bogotá by bicycle, exploring the unique neighborhoods and community initiatives of this city of nearly nine million inhabitants. Our time here will also offer an introduction to the peace process, and the culture of resilience that Colombian people have developed in the face of the civil conflict. Note that Bogotá has a strong civic culture of respect for cyclists, and the use of bicycles of a means if transport is highly promoted. Cycling activities will not be strenuous and are fairly safe, as there are special routes for bicycles throughout the city.
Week 3 We travel by plane to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast, where we begin our expedition to the Lost City of the Tayrona Indians, an archeological complex tucked away in the cloud forest. We ascend from sea level to 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above sea level on a trek through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, exploring multiple ecosystems along the way. The indigenous communities of the region will guide us on an adventure through their sacred territory, situated in the highest coastal mountain system in the world. The Sierra Nevada mountains rise up from the Caribbean sea to an altitude of 5,700 meters (18,700 feet) above sea level.
Week 4 During the final phase of our journey we stay in an Afro-Colombian community on the coast, an area known for the rich fusion of rhythms and dances first brought from the African continent and blended with local music traditions. Living with families we learn about the struggles of Afro-Colombian peoples, from gaps in equality and development to the historical violence that his inordinately impacted communities of African descent. Here we delve into our final Spanish classes, while learning to dance and play the drums that give life to the cumbias, bullerengues, champetas and other rhythms of the Caribbean coast. We will end our time in Colombia reflecting on our experience with local communities, and on the growth of each one of us as individuals and as part of the group.