Stories From Colombia

Stories From Colombia2021-12-12T21:23:22+00:00

Voices from Colombia: The Day Kennedy Died

By Jim Brown (Colombia IV) There are certain days we will remember as long as we live. We can tell you exactly where we were, what we we doing, and why that day—good or bad—would never be forgotten. November 22, 1963, was one of those days. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas shortly after noon, local time. For the 7,000+ Peace Corps Volunteers around the world, it was more than just memorable; it was an especially unsettling and surreal experience. News reports were sketchy, volunteers were uncertain about what to do (or not do), and getting in touch with family

Colombia Group 1 Reflects on Their Service 60 Years Later

Recruitment Stories From College to Peace Corps By Darrel Young Site Location: San Pablo, Nariño I was strolling across campus, about to begin my last semester of undergrad, looking toward law school in the fall.  Venturing into the Student Union, I saw folks gathered round the presidential inauguration in progress, and sat down to watch. And then, Kennedy began to speak. His speech, his intelligent speech, not just his elegant words but even more so the compelling cadence of his voice, zapped right into my emotional wiring, stirring parts of me I never knew existed. A transcendent charmer he was,

Échame la ñapa, compa’

By Jeremy Booth Generally speaking, once you decide to get one, there is a lot of freedom regarding tattoos. There is no formula to tell what exactly to get, where to place it, or how big to make it. Should it be colorful or just black? You can get a portrait or a symbol or a phrase. Really whatever you want. The one rule, however, that most people recommend following, is that you make sure it is meaningful to you. With that said, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I possibly broke the one cardinal rule when tattooing in bold

Images of Peace

By Alyssa Galik, RPCV 2016–2018 This story originally appeared in the 60th Anniversary Exhibit for the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. Cartagena has always been a place of contradictions, a city of magical realism. The poorest city in Colombia, yet also the epicenter of luxury and wealth. Sometimes, while traveling between the city and my Peace Corps site in Manzanillo Del Mar (a fishing village of 1,200 established by escaped slaves) I had a feeling of whiplash. Once an enclave on the far side of a mangrove lagoon, Manzanillo was now faced with rapid development. Gated communities, international schools, and

Volunteers describe how they went from college to Colombia in 1962

By Jim Brown, Colombia IV (1962-1964) The Wild West years of Peace Corps recruiting were 1961 and 1962. An understaffed office in Washington was inundated by thousands of applications. There were delays, project cancellations, and re-assignments, but also spectacular successes. Screening was lax in some ways, demanding in others. Yet, the process somehow worked. By early 1963, 7,300 volunteers were at work 44 countries. Recruiting volunteers for Colombia IV (1962-64) was particularly challenging. Because they were to be the first Peace Corps group assigned to teach at the university level, every person had to have at least a BA, BS,

Flower Parade

By Kay Dixon, Colombia III (1962-1964) Today’s the day we check the Desfile de Silleteros from our bucket list.  From my youngest years, I have loved parades. When my childhood playground program featured a pet parade, I was one of the first kids to line up to see it. When my town’s volunteer firemen’s drum and bugle corps practiced marching through my neighborhood on summer evenings, I was there twirling my baton hoping they would notice and invite me to march along; they never did. For several years, I chaired a Fourth of July parade and celebration on Cape Cod with nearly

It was poor Marquesa

By Bill Salerno, Colombia VI (1963-1966) It was mid-June, ‘64. Dan Taylor and I and his lovable pooch Marquesa were on a direct flight from Medellin to Bahia Solano on the Pacific rainforest coast of the Choco, the most underdeveloped, poorest departemento in the nation. Total annual rainfall about three meters. Really? I had been in Barbosa, Antioquia for eleven months, to a disappointing conclusion. The efforts to turn the pineapple into a marketing success had failed. We had given it our best try. I organized the Cooperative. I got the town to contribute a storage space. There was no

Colombia IV: The First and Last Peace Corps Colombia Basketball Team

How a touring team of volunteers won games, earned credibility, and almost had an international incident By Jim Brown Like many other groups during the early days of the Peace Corps, the Colombia IV physical education/coaching volunteers had a credibility problem. How do you assign American volunteers to universities throughout Colombia and expect students (and faculty) to accept instruction from young people no older than themselves with still-developing Spanish language skills? The Carrasco Effect Eliseo (Ellis) Carrasco, the bilingual native of El Paso, Texas, had been a hall of fame high school coach in California before signing on with the

Return to Dibulla

By: Abby Wasserman December 2008 My little Ana is a grandmother. There’s white in her wiry black hair and she is missing teeth. It wrings my heart to see her so fragile. Ana was my compañerita for a year in Dibulla, La Guajira, in 1964 and 1965, when I was a PCV there. Ana’s younger sister, my goddaughter Clea, is tall and robust. Mentally, she is still a child. She lives under the watchful eye of her mother, Ida. The last time I saw Clea she was a plump baby, light-skinned and blue-eyed. Her mother and I joked that she

Sushi for Breakfast and Reggaetón from the Rooftops

By Brynn Smith Today marks one month since I landed back in the States, and every day I still wake up dazed and confused, wondering whether my whole life in Colombia was just a dream, or if all of the chaos here is just a nightmare.  At about 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, the United States Peace Corps announced they would be evacuating all volunteers from their sites worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was a few blocks away at my sitemate’s house when we got the email. We were bracing for news, but we didn’t know it

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