Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
El 'Love' se le subió a la gringa Christina
UNA NORTEAMERICANA QUE no quiere partir, testimonia la transformación que vive Medellín y pide a los paisas que no cambien por nada del mundo.
A Christina, una trotamundos, la cautivó la calidez de la gente y el cambio que vive la ciudad. "Aquí son muy queridos con la gente que viene, siempre tienen tiempo para explicar dónde está un lugar y si es posible van contigo. Eso no existe en ningún lugar, es increíble", cuenta agradecida la extranjera.
Ha visitado todos los rincones de la ciudad y, como habla español, dice que se siente tan cómoda aquí que puede caminar por cualquier sitio.
León J. Saldarriaga L. - Medellín | Publicado el 21 de febrero de 2009
Ciudades hermosas y turísticas como París, Madrid, Sidney, Turquía, Roma y una pequeña isla griega han sido residencia temporal de esta neoyorquina, pero en ninguna la había picado el bicho que la tiene cautivada en Medellín.
La picadura la "enfermó" y le extendió a más de dos meses una visita que planeó para sólo dos semanas, porque pretendía seguir para Brasil y Argentina. "Después de estar en Suramérica es un poco estúpido para no ver otras cosas, pero no podía irme, todos los días hay cosas que pasan, empecé a tener un estilo de vida como si viviera aquí...".
Algo raro ocurre cada que programa su regreso a Nueva York, porque Avianca aplaza el vuelo y el incumplimiento alegra un corazón que no quiere irse todavía.
Extrovertida, cálida y alegre, como pocas gringas, en su nombre: Christina Love, se conjuga el carácter de padres canadienses, con ascendencia inglesa, escocesa e irlandesa por el papá, y griega por la madre.
Esa suma de culturas y de idiomas (habla francés, español, griego y, por supuesto, inglés) llegó a finales de diciembre a Medellín, cuando la ciudad estaba vestida con las luces de Navidad.
En ese jolgorio se mezcló su preparación académica en Economía Política, Negocios y Diseño en las universidades de California, en Berkeley, y de Harvard, en Boston, aunque se despertó más su espíritu de artista.
¿Pero qué tiene cautivada a Christina Love? Aquí, dice, la gente es más feliz, y reivindica aquel estudio que afirma que Colombia es uno de los países del mundo donde son más felices. "Dicen que Tailandia es el país de la sonrisa, pero aquí la gente cuando da una sonrisa es con toda la cara".
Las mujeres de Colombia, reconoce, son muy hermosas, pero observa que hay mucha cirugía plástica, y los hombres los encuentra más delgados que en Estados Unidos.
El embrujo del Cauca
Acogida por una pareja de amigos que integran Francis, un publicista surafricano, y Vicky, una paisa, a Christina le ha alcanzado para encantarse del verdor de las montañas de esta tierra en Santa Fe de Antioquia, Jericó, Rionegro, El Retiro y Bolombolo.
En el último ha sentido el embrujo de los caudales del Cauca y el San Juan, y se ha deleitado con los frutales de sus cálidos poblados ribereños como el mango, la guanábana, el níspero, el lulo y los bananos.
¿Y Medellín? La asombra que aquí se oriente el 40 por ciento del presupuesto a educación. "Es increíble, es lo que todos los países deberían hacer, y el mismo E.U., porque sin eso no hay nada que vaya a cambiar".
Con su espíritu abierto entabló amistad con artistas con los que pinta y recorre la ciudad, pero prefiere los sitios populares del centro porque los siente "vivos".
De tantos que conoce, la impresiona que el metro de Medellín es muy limpio, y le parece interesante el pico y placa, porque Nueva York ha intentado hacer lo mismo, pero lleva años discutiéndolo sin concretar nada.
Antes de venir leyó mucho sobre Pablo Escobar, el narcotráfico y, más reciente, varios artículos del New York Times que hablan de una recuperación económica con las confecciones, las flores y manufacturas.
En este presente ve un "renacimiento" de la ciudad, y cuando pregunta a la gente si les gusta Medellín, ve que son muy orgullosos. "Eso es bueno y no pasa siempre, porque hay ciudades en que la gente dice que no está mal, pero también cosas negativas, aquí nunca".
Cuando tantos se quieren ir a otros destinos, Christina confiesa su encanto por Medellín y siente temor por algo que -"parece estúpido pero es verdad"- puede pasar cuando un lugar tiene mucho turista y llega dinero rápidamente. "Con otros gringos hablamos de eso siempre, tenemos miedo que la gente cambie, y espero que no cambie nunca".
Le quedan tres o cuatro noches para afianzar su amor por la gente de Medellín, por el ímpetu del Cauca y las montañas de Antioquia. También para disfrutar el mondongo y vocalizar la fruta que más le gusta pronunciar: melocotón.
Antioquia bilingüe - Charmed by Medellín
Christina Love, an American artist and designer, had planned to be in Medellín for just two weeks and it's been two months, she is that fascinated by the city. Although Love has lived in many European and Asian cities, she admits there's just something here that enchants you.
Just a few days shy of returning to New York, she's sad to leave and asks 'paisas' to never change the way they are when Medellín becomes more of a tourist destination. She realizes it takes time to change a reputation left behind by drug-trafficking, but she'll definitely talk about the transformation she has witnessed
Friday, February 20, 2009
“I never thought I would be here as a politician,” said Sergio Fajardo, former mayor of Medellín, Colombia and candidate for Colombia’s upcoming presidential election, as he addressed Johnson Graduate School of Management students in Sage Hall yesterday.
Medellín Mayor Tells Tale of Change in Colombia
The Cornell Daily Sun - February 20, 2009 - By Byungkwan Park
During his visit, the mayor’s first, to Cornell, he delivered two lectures: “Colombia, Challenges and Opportunities” in the Johnson School and “From Fear to Hope” at the Plant Sciences Building.
A mathematician turned politician, Fajardo taught at the National University in Bogota and Medellín before he assembled a team to run for mayor as an independent. Fajardo became mayor of Medellín in 2003 and was mayor until 2007, when he was named Best Mayor by the Colombia Leader Foundation.
Medellín is a city of over two million people — Colombia’s second biggest city — which is notorious for its 1991 title as the most dangerous city in the world, with a homicide rate of 381 per 100,000 inhabitants or 6,349 murders in total.
As mayor, Fajardo managed Medellín’s rampant violence and initiated projects to address the city’s inequality.
Fajardo decided to run for mayor because “[he was] tired of saying how things should be.”
Medellín needed to change from a politically corrupt system, he said.
“Of course, people told us we’re crazy … we had no money, no political connections … But here I am,” Fajardo said.
Last year, Medellín saw a dramatic decline in reported homicides, as the rate dropped to 26 per 100,000 inhabitants, or 653 murders in total.
“It is not that the mayors who went before him failed to understand the complex strands that contributed to Medellín’s malaise,” said Prof. Mary Roldan, history, in an introductory speech at “From Fear to Hope.”
What she said set Fajardo apart was his “participatory and inclusive approach” and “understanding that the key to transformation lies not only in establishing the foundations of public order and security, but following up and inclusive approach” and “understanding that the key to transformation lies not only in establishing the foundations of public order and security, but following up and committing over the long term to deep and broad social and economic investment, targeting the neediest and least developed inhabitants and parts of the city.”
Before Fajardo could resolve the city’s two biggest issues, violence and inequality, there was an unavoidable condition that had to be met.
“We had to change the way we did politics,” Fajardo said.
Fajardo had walked around Medellín personally to talk to the people and to determine the problems the city’s inhabitants faced and their possible solutions.
“The way you get into power will determine the way you handle public affairs,” he added.
After his election, Fajardo immediately tackled the issue of violence, increasing the city’s police force, reintegrating past criminals and promoting a peaceful citizen culture.
The award-winning mayor then addressed the city’s inequality. He made extensive use of the Human Development Index to identify Medellín’s most impoverished areas. Instead of targeting the city’s affluent areas to garner election votes, he targeted the poorest ones and pushed for projects to develop infrastructure, Fajardo said.
One of the 10 projects involved building “mega-schools” in the poorer areas. Although he was criticized by those who doubted the effectiveness of new schools, Fajardo commented that by building these new schools, he was able to elevate the self-esteem of the children, thereby facilitating their academic learning.
“There are some things we have done here that have universal applications,” said Fajardo.
After his lecture, “From Fear to Hope,” Fajardo received an applause from a nearly 150-person audience.
Shandana Malik grad asked how the financing of the numerous development projects was possible.
Fajardo responded that by building trust between the government and the city’s people, he was able to raise taxes and be transparent about where the money went.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Youth Orchestra of Medellin: Founded and directed by Juan Guillermo Ocampo, after 7 years of existence the System of Music Schools and Youth Orchestras of Medellín has become the leading social and musical organization in Colombia. Realizing that education can be the single most important way to transform individuals and societies and adapting the Venezuelan model—a world leader in the field of youth orchestras—the program of youth orchestras in Medellín has transformed the lives of 3,000 children, offering a valuable alternative to life in the streets.
Back in 1999, when Medellín was known as the most violent city in the world, no-fee music schools began popping up in the poorest and most crime-ravaged barrios. These were part of the Amadeus Foundation, a social initiative where children are encouraged to sing, play instruments and appreciate classical music. According to its choir director, John Fredy Noreña, once you put a violin in the hands of a child and teach them how to play, they will never pick up a gun.
We bring classical music to children who would otherwise never be able to access it. With the help of the local mayor and private donors and businesses, we work in 27 marginalised neighbourhoods across Medellín. There we have set up free music schools that provide high-quality music education, run by dedicated teachers who are often picked from top conservatoires.
Around 4,000 children, aged from five to 23 years old, are involved in the Amadeus Foundation, and from this group we have selected 1,400 children for our two orchestras and choirs. We provide free buses to collect kids from all the neighbourhoods and bring them to rehearsals. Fernando Botero, the famous artist who was born in Medellín, has donated several instruments and they are available to use for free. The children choose which one they want to play. The violin is the most popular.
Before we founded Amadeus, people living in the poorer neighbourhoods had little idea what classical music was; they had no points of reference. No one had heard of Beethoven or Mozart. It was quite a risk as we had no idea whether the project would succeed.
It was very difficult to convince community leaders that classical music was fun, and more importantly that it could have a social benefit. People were skeptical. They were more interested in rap, or wanted their children to be taught the electric guitar. During one meeting with the local community, a parent stood up and said: "Classical music is not for us poor who live on top of the mountains, but for the rich who live below."
Over time, as our concerts in the city became a regular feature, we had more support from the local community. They came round to classical music, and in some families, Mozart and Beethoven have now become household names. Some of our pupils now make a living from music, either as music teachers or professional musicians who perform with the Medellín Symphony Orchestra.
But there is a lot more to this than just playing an instrument or turning children into professional musicians. Our aim is our slogan: "Making people better human beings". I believe that music can teach you about life. Playing in an orchestra means commitment, respect for the person sitting next to you, teamwork, discipline and being organised. It also improves mental agility. I’ve seen young people change their attitude towards themselves, their family and community since starting with us.
Being part of an orchestra and practising hard almost every day gives children a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging. Parents come to concerts and feel proud. They are also grateful to Amadeus because their children are involved in something positive and not just hanging around on the street. A young child involved in the programme is far less likely, if ever, to commit a crime. Children participating in the music classes tend to do better at school and they are also less likely to drop out of school.
Kids in local gangs leave our kids alone. Amadeus students have gained themselves a certain kudos and respect. They don't pose a threat to any of the gangs, and they're not in competition with them, so they're left alone. Some of them are even allowed to cross over gang territory lines.
There have been a few occasions when gang violence has affected us – when children get caught in the crossfire and aren't able to attend school. But that rarely happens nowadays.
I see the children as seeds of peace because they go home to their families and talk about the values they've learned and the positive experiences they've had. We talk a lot during rehearsals, and every month we choose a different value to focus the discussion on, like respect, humility or equality. We have a special manual that contains the rules and values the children are required to follow.
Some of our former pupils now teach in our schools, others have become professional musicians, one girl won a scholarship to study music in Italy. So the young students have a lot of positive role models. In the past, so often their only role models were drug-traffickers.
Before a concert we rehearse all weekend and for nine hours during the week, including most evenings after school until 9pm. It's a demanding programme and our biggest challenge is persuading the children to put in that many hours, especially when their parents want them to get a job and earn a living. But I haven’t come across a single child who says that all the hard work hasn’t been worth it.
• John Fredy Noreña was speaking to Anastasia Moloney in Medellín.
Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Antioquia