This program is organized by Duke affiliate faculty/staff in collaboration with DukeEngage.
June 23 - August 17
Creating documentary videos, blogs, and photographs to develop community in collaboration with displaced, women, men, youth and their families. as well as with local university students.
Tamera Marko, Assistant Director & Faculty, Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing, Emerson College; Former Faculty Fellow& current faculty affiliate, Duke University
Jota Samper, Architect and Artist, Instructor and Fellow, Department of Design & Urban Planning, MIT
Please begin by watching this 60-second behind-the-scenes clip of DEColombia 2012 students working and this two-minute preview of a documentary of DEColombia.
This project will build on the work of previous DukeEngage Colombia students’ collaboration in art, documentary video and historical memory projects with communities in Medellín for the last four years. Based on feedback from students who participated in DukeEngage Colombia in past years, we have decided to continue the focus of our program on documentary. But with a twist. In 2013 each DukeEngage Colombia student will be paired with a Colombian university student who lives in the communities we document. These communities have been built over the last 50 years by women, men and youth who have been displaced from their lives in the countryside. Many of these community members have built their homes and their neighborhoods with their own hands. These Colombian students and their families will tell their stories, in their own words and images, about about how they built their neighborhoods in Medellín. No prior documentary experience necessary but welcomed. This project is part of our alternative archive project working with displaced women. See sample videos.
DukeEngage Colombia students and Colombia university students will work together to create short documentary videos and design blogs and websites to document their stories. People tell their stories in their own communities in their own words and images. The community members include: youth who are hip-hop artists, community television studio founders, mothers and grandmothers who organized entire communities to gain the legal papers to their land and community organizers who live and work in communities that have until the last few years been isolated from the rest of the city and the world. During this isolation, their communities have been vibrant with art and justice movements for peace and in their everyday lives.
Participants in this program will also work with other Colombian university students in the art/architecture/history/art departments to help with editing, translation and interviews..
Where will the documentary filming and interviewing take place?
You will interview, film and photograph people in the storytellers’ homes, neighborhoods, university and other parts of the city. When visiting their homes, each Duke/Colombian university student team is led by a cogestor/a or social worker. We partner with more than 100 social workers who are part of a citywide project called Medellín Solidaria, which is a social welfare program run by the City of Medellín. Medellín Solidaria’s mission is to inform families throughout Medellín of their legal rights to city infrastructure, especially documents for those who have been displaced and help them access clean water, electricity, education, medical care, employment information, small business loans and arts and cultural projects. All of these services are free of cost to the families. The DE Colombia site coordinator and director are involved at every step of the project and often accompany teams into the communities (though the teams have a lot of creative autonomy). DukeEngage 2013 will be our fourth consecutive year working with Medellín Solidaria.
Where will the finished documentaries go?
The finished projects for all of our work with all community members will debut in a live exhibition with the community members in one of the state-of-the-art theaters located in the communities. Our goal is that when DE Colombia 2013 students return to the U.S., the community members have an archive of 200+ interviews about their everyday lives as peace process and their process in building their communities. Our goal is to also develop at least 10 of these interviews into polished documentary stories of 7 minutes or less and publish on a professional quality DVD. These stories we will show at the exhibition at the end of the DukeEngage summer of 2013 in Medellin. Each community member/family who we interview receives a portrait and a copy of their entire interview and a copy of the DVD we create of the 20 documentary stories. The families in the documentaries will be at the final show to offer their critiques and feelings about the work we have done. We apply what we learn from their comments to creating documentary stories from the rest of the interviews. The stories on this DVD will then circulated in film festivals, schools, exhibitions and libraries throughout the Americas and online.
Though this is an ambitious project, we are certain it will be meaningful for everyone involved. These are community members we have been building relationships with for the last five years, and it is the community members who have asked us to do this project. We also, have had very successful exhibitions of finished projects two years running and will be working with the same community partners, theater directors, and Colombian university students. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Tamera Marko. We also strongly encourage you to speak with the former DukeEngage Colombia participants (see resources section on web site), many of whom, in their words, “can’t wait to go back to Medellín!”
DukeEngage Colombia (2008) student Jessica Shuen continued to work in collaboration with the DE Colombia Director and community after she returned to the United States. She received a Fulbright Grant in 2010 to live and work in Colombia for one year to create a science-for-girls educational project. She is now studying medicine in the University of California, San Diego.
DukeEngage Colombia (2008) student Rachel McGowen collaborated with K-12 teachers in Durham in 2010 to create a curriculum about art as peace process in Medellín to be implemented in Durham schools and throughout North Carolina. This was her senior project. She is now a teacher herself and shares the videos and curriculum in her classes.
DukeEngage Colombia (2009) student Danya Taymor wrote and directed a theatrical play at Duke in 2010 about youth in Medellín.
DukeEngage Colombia (2010) student Molly Superfine is collaborating with DE Director and OTGC to create a bi-national exhibit of the 20 families community documentaries and photographs in the U.S. and in Medellin in 2010-2011.
DukeEngage Colombia 2012 student Julie Zuckerbrod is applying for grants to return to Medellín in 2013.
We will be working directly with community leaders: hip-hop artists, community tv, mothers who are also community organizers, & residents of a new neighborhood for peace. Our entire project focuses on this – see description above in “program scope”.
Former participants have worked several community partners in Medellín with whom we still partner:
La Ciudad Mas Educada campaign
Universidad Nacional de Medellín
Youth Art Council
Through the organizations above, former participants have volunteered in the following categories of service…
• Art & Design As Civic Engagement
• Historical Memory
• Public Policy
• Documentary Film & Photography
• Political Science
• Health Information
• Education (K-12)
• Computer Literacy
Language/Other Prerequisites: Spanish (be able to communicate in the language; 100% fluency not required.)
MAC Laptop (For compatibility with previous four years of DukeEngage work.)
If you do not have a MAC laptop and you still want to apply, please contact Tamera Marko directly; she is happy to discuss options.
Latest version of iMovie (familiarity with software application or the will to learn). Most previous DE Colombia students had no prior video experience and had never heard of iMovie. We’ll teach iMovie in a 3-day workshop in Medellín. All students will be up and running within a week.
Desire to work in teams. All video work is highly collaborative while also including individual creative input.
Desire to give and receive critiques. Each video receives a weekly critique from the DukeEngage Colombia team and is revised 5-7 times before its theater debut and DVD publication.
Reflection Sessions: Your site coordinator and/or director and DE Colombia students will alternate leading weekly reflection sessions in which we will share thoughts, images, doubts, frustrations, and joys in our work and everyday life in Medellín. Last year weekly reflection sessions were vibrant, complex and grew increasingly deep as we got to know each other and the city better. Our sessions usually took place at the apartment of the site coordinator located in our neighborhood. We ask each student to keep a private journal (in written word, image etc.) For the reflection, each student chooses a selection to share with all of us. After the reflection session, each student selects a portion of what she or he shares in the session to be posted on our program blog every week. This year, our blog leader suggested we have two blogs – a program blog in which we all agree as a group what we put up to represent all of us and another blog that is free form for all of us to add at any time we wish. The combination was fabulous. Sometimes we added from the free form blog to the group blog and vice versa. This way we preserve the freedom of expression that comes with student autonomy and privacy and also develop our community through sharing our thoughts, feelings, questions, new ideas. Sometimes we have a short reading or an image as a prompt for the week’s reflection. We usually have a theme to guide the week’s discussion, though this time is open to other topics as well. Some weeks the students choose the theme for the reflection session. See last year’s blog (see right column, at top of this page) for an example of the kinds of topics and posts.
Neighborhood: A public-housing project that was built 50 years ago for artists, teachers, social workers, and public servants to have affordable housing in a convenient, safe location for their families. Many of the original residents who planted the trees and gardens, still live there close to their grandchildren. Now the neighborhood is a lush green space filled with trees, tropical flowers, cafes, homestyle restaurants and the An Art Institute run by the University de Antioquia. The neighborhood is a two-minute walking distance to a taxi stand, stores, cafes, and laid back nightlife where university youth hang out under the trees or at the cafes. It is also a 10-minute walk to the metro and larger stores and internet cafes. A new fitness center (where the Olympic Swim Team trains) is a 25-minute walk or 2-minute bus ride away.
Housing and Accommodations: All students live with a traditional Colombian family in the same neighborhood. All students and OGTC and Program Director live within 2-minute walking distance of each other. Some students will share a room with another DukeEngage student of the same gender. Some students will have their own room and will share a host family with another Colombian university student. The homestay accommodations include: one bed (per student), desks, closets, and a bathroom, which will also be shared with other students of the same gender. Students will have the ability to cook in their homestay kitchen, but usually they will eat breakfast and dinner with their homestay families (when the student is home). The homestay families do each student’s laundry.
Per Colombian (and especially Medellín) culture, each student will be considered part of the family. Students are not “guests” nor are they just “boarders.” The homestay families will want to know about their homestay “daughter/son” likes and dislikes and they will want to share their lives with students. Previous students have gone on family trips with their homestay families, celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and family game night. While this is a family intensive stay, each student has his or her own autonomy as an adult and simply needs to communicate with his or her family if he or she will not be home for dinner, will be out late, or is away for DukeEngage travel.
Meals: Students will eat breakfast and dinner Monday-Sunday with their homestay families. The homestay families cook this breakfast of traditional Colombian food. Lunch is covered by your stipend and students can eat at the many cafes and home-style restaurants two-minute walking distance from the homestays. Students will pack a lunch or eat at a local café when on the job sites. Sometimes we will eat lunch with community members. Medellín has many delicious, affordable restaurants and street vendors and tropical fruit stands to choose from. There are weekly farmer’s markets and also food festivals happening throughout the summer in Medellín.
Communication: Students will have Internet access in their homestay. Most placements will involve some time in front of the computer and students should have some Internet access while at their service placement. The OTGC provides each student with a Colombian cell phone upon arriving to Medellín. In that moment, each student programs all relevant numbers into his or her phone, including the numbers of the homestay families. Internet is available in cafes throughout the city and the neighborhood. Families in the U.S. can easily contact students in Medellín through a pre-paid phone card. Students in Medellín can do the same or use SKYPE, GMAIL Video chat or similar internet programs.
Transportation: Given the location of housing vis-à-vis the communities, most students will have a 10-minute walk to the metro and then hop on the connected metrocable (gondola) to travel up the mountain to the communities. Students will always travel in pairs. Students will also travel by taxi, bus, and on foot regularly. Medellín is a walker friendly city in many neighborhoods. Taxi fare is inexpensive. During trips to and from the airport and program fieldtrips, students will be transported by a hired van driver, always accompanied with the OTGC or the DE Director. These are drivers we have worked with during the last three years of DE Colombia. Most program events will take place in the city where public transportation is readily available.
Volunteer Placement Outcomes:
DE Colombia 2008-2012
Students have so far collaborated with more than 700 people who were forced to leave their homes in ther countryside to live in the city of Medellín, making them what is called “displaced.” Over the last 60 years, these women, men and youth have built their neighborhoods with their own hands. Now they are working directly with the City of Medellín in massive urban and cultural infrastructural projects called “the transformation of Medellín.” This includes the building of hospitals, public gardens, schools, cultural centers, librarys and public transportation between people’s homes, the city center, and these new places. DukeEngage Colombia has been collaborating with these people to document their stories.
Collectively, over five years, we have:
• interviewed more than 650 displaced women, youth and their families in Medellín
• created more than 50 documentary videos of 7 minutes of less. They are in Spanish and subtitled in English. See Mobility17.com
• created more than 3,000 photographs of families and their communities
• debuted four DVDs of these stories in state-of-the-art theaters in Medellín with the storytellers (the displaced people) being the largest presence in the audience.
• circulated the DVD stories to more than 10,000 people throughout the Americas.
• created a DE Colombia Blog 2009-2012 which has a steady following of more than 7,500 people worldwide. See http://dukeengageinmedellin.blogspot.com/
In doing this, we:
• created a tangible project to not only leave behind with the communities but also projects that the communities member continue with all-year-round once the DukeEngage students finish their time on the project in Medellín and return to the U.S. These include community murals, music workshops, and documentary interviews and a DVD.
• learned about another world, another place, where family and friends come first and the institutional life of the community, university, and local art/community spaces work very hard to keep it that way.
• learned that community oriented projects or full-time jobs are a real possibility for any major
• completed 1,700 photographs, and at least 26 documentary videos in collaboration with DukeEngage Colombia students. Most of the students had no prior video experience.
Media was not part of our original plan. In fact, given that that this project was a pilot in 2008, we had actively avoided seeking media attention. But given the amount and persistent nature of media interest in our program, we decided to constructively harness this media energy and publicity and make it another dimension of our program as a whole. We now have been interviewed, photographed, and or filmed by 8 different newspaper and television stations (local and national). We created press releases and conducted media workshops with the DukeEngage students. Students have even appeared on a live community show run by a young hip-hop artist we began working with in DE2010. This helps promote DukeEngage and also the stories that community members tell in the documentary videos we make together.
Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Students will be at their service placements for roughly 8 hours day Monday through Friday. After work students will return to their homestays or meet up Colombian friends and/or with fellow Duke participants for dinner. During the week students will have one to two group commitments in the evening. On the weekends, students will have a good deal of free time during approximately four weekends during the program. The other four weekends will be spent as a group participating in field trip activities in Medellín such as the Flower Festival, the Tango Festival, the Alternative Pulitzer Prize winning Poetry Festival, Art Collectives, presentations by the city urban planners who developed the citywide peace process.
During our last two years of DE Colombia, one of the most successful aspects of our program has been our Programa Compañera/o or “Friend Program.” In this program, 10 Colombian university students join to be “guides” in Colombian youth culture and throughout the city for our DukeEngage students. Both summers we have done this, the Colombian and Duke students immediately developed friendships. The Colombian university students showed their new Duke friends around the city nightlife, took them to their own homes, shared celebrations with them, and just generally hung out in the neighborhood cafes. Many of these students still keep in touch with each other. These really do become genuine friendships. The neighborhood also includes some quiet spaces where students can have a solitary coffee or sit on a park bench and read. Many students also reported they had quiet time in their rooms at home (it is acceptable in the homestay culture to, on occasion, just close the door and take a nap or have some time to yourself).
Miscellaneous: Medellín has many names. These include: The City of Flowers, The City of Music, The City of Eternal Spring, The City of Coffee, The City of Salsa, The City of Friendship, and The City of Poetry. Throughout the summer, there are more than 30 world renowned festivals dedicated to flowers, poetry, dance, rock music, art, graffiti, fashion, peace movements, food, coffee, corn, children, women, health, storytelling and more. As a DE group and individually DE students attend many of these festivals which are free or very affordable. We also have one field trip to a private nature reserve or to a traditional colonial town called Santa Fe de Antioquia where residents still ride horses into town, flood the town on Sundays for street markets, socializing and church events and where it seems in many ways time has stood still for hundreds of years.
Medellín nightlife is also famous for its food, dancing, and warm social atmosphere. As part of the city’s ongoing peace process, the local government often funds night events where the downtown spaces or the metro or the museums or all the shops are open 24 hours to encourage people to not just “consume” but to share public space under the stars. There are also many events dedicated to children who are on summer vacation. One such event included 24 hours of books in which youth hung books wrapped in cellophane up in the neighborhood’s lush green trees and children could come and choose their book and then they could sit in little chairs or curl up in little tents with flashlights (and guardians) to read. These kinds of enchanting events happen all summer long throughout the city.
We work closely with the local university and so academic and social life is quite active through this outlet as well. Students are welcome to attend lectures, visit the campus and its libraries or just go have lunch or a bowl of tropical fruit with their new Colombian friends. This is walking distance from the homestays.