Category Archives: Descubriendo el mundo

De la protesta al sueño / From the protest to the dream

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Find the English version of this post below

Y ahí estaba yo corriendo sobre la nieve fresca para tomar el bus de las 5:30am y no correr el riesgo de perderme la primera manifestación de mi vida.

Sí, me da algo de vergüenza reconocer que a mis 27 años de vida nunca había estado en una protesta. De algún modo, cuando estaba en Colombia no creía en las manifestaciones, no creía que los políticos escucharan a los ciudadanos. Recuerdo haber observado con tristeza algunas caravanas dirigidas por unos pocos valientes ciudadanos comprometidos con causas olvidadas por la mayoría. Entonces y quizás aún hoy, yo me veía a mí misma contribuyendo más del lado de la producción de bienes colectivos, como a través del emprendimiento social, que en la participación política. Además, mi imaginario de clase media temerosa vinculaba inconscientemente protestar con un alto riesgo de ser herida o incluso morir. Hoy tengo la percepción, quizás multiplicada por la distancia, de que las cosas en Colombia han cambiado y que ya no es ese país sangriento en el que opinar se paga con la vida. Hoy me siento lista para protestar, pero sobre todo para construir.

Y así, después de casi cinco horas de viaje descendemos del autobús y bajo el cielo berlinés logro identificar las caras de los otros cuarenta manifestantes que habían viajado conmigo en el bus. Me sorprende la interesante mezcla de generaciones que se reúnen por esta causa. Mientras nos aproximamos a la multitud que se concentra frente a la estación de trenes sonrío al divisar las vacas, zanahorias, abejas, ovejas, cerdos y otros disfraces que eligieron algunos como expresión de su protesta.

Después de unos pocos minutos me detengo en medio de la multitud y empiezo a recorrer con la mirada toda la escena. A pesar de que mi presencia es más la de un turista y mi motivación para estar allí es más la curiosidad que la convicción, viene a mí un sentimiento de alegría como el que siento al ver las celebraciones de equipos de fútbol al quedar campeones. No sé si soy la única persona que experimenta esa alegría llorona al ver momentos como este. Un grupo de hombres y mujeres que a pesar de los -8ºC (con sensación térmica de -14ºC) elige caminar por cuatro horas por las calles de una ciudad fantasma sin interés individual alguno, sino por el romántico acto de de defender el mundo que sueñan, su idea de felicidad, un mundo en el que la comida es natural y los animales respetados, un mundo en el que el suelo es bien tratado y la producción no afecta las posibilidades de vida de la próxima generación.

Una hora después arranca la caravana. Caminamos unos dos o tres kilómetros muy lentamente, haciendo una vuelta casi circular que terminó en frente del Bundestag, el edificio del congreso alemán. El recorrido fue más bien silencioso, con algunas intervenciones musicales, pero con muy pocas intervenciones apasionadas que elevaran las vibraciones de los manifestantes. Cuando el frío pudo más que la voluntad nos retiramos a un refugio a compartir una sopa vegetariana comunitaria y pocos minutos después regresamos al bus que nos llevaría por otras cinco horas de vuelta a casa.

No sé si la protesta sería efectiva o no, pero puedo decir que mi opinión sobre estas en general cambió un poco. No porque ahora crea que son efectivas, sino porque me di cuenta de que no se tratan de convencer al gobierno, sino de persuadir a otros ciudadanos a exigir el mundo que todos nos merecemos, a soñar juntos.

Entonces recuerdo a mi país, recuerdo las protestas estudiantiles del 2011, recuerdo incluso un post que escribí entonces y me pregunto en dónde quedó el sueño de tener educación pública para todos, en dónde quedó el compromiso de la nueva generación de jóvenes.
Pienso que sí, las protestas son valiosas, pero estas sólo ocurren en coyunturas específicas, cuando una gota rebosa la copa y se ve la necesidad de salir, de tomarse la calle y expresar el sentir colectivo. Sin embargo, yo sospecho que no es en la calle donde se sueña, sino donde se manifiesta el sueño, el que se ha construido antes, en los círculos más cercanos, en las conversaciones familiares, en la clase, en la mesa y en la cama.
Y de repente vuelvo a soñar, esta vez no tanto con un país que protesta, sino con un país que discute sobre el futuro común, con un lugar en donde la gente se comunica y logra llegar a acuerdos, donde los amigos se ocupan de enrolar a otros en un sueño colectivo, con un país que se construye en casa.

From the protest to the dream

And there I was. Running on the snow to catch the 5:30 bus and avoiding the risk of missing my first manifestation.

Yeah, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that in 27 years I had never been to a protest. When I was in Colombia I did not believe in protests, did not believe politicians would listen to the people. I sadly remember watching some caravans run by a few brave citizens committed to causes forgotten by most of us. Then, and perhaps even today, I saw myself more as a social entrepreneur than as a political activist. Also, my fearful middle class imaginary unconsciously linked protests with a high risk of being injured or even killed. But today I have the perception, perhaps multiplied by the distance, that things are changing in Colombia and that our country is no longer that bloody place in which life is the price of expressing one’s view. Today I feel ready to protest, and especially ready to build together.

And so, after five hours of ride we got off the bus under Berlin’s sky and I was finally able to identify the faces of the forty protesters who were traveling with us. I was surprised of the interesting mix of generations coming together for this cause. As we approached the crowd gathering in front of the train station I smiled at the sight of cows, carrots, bees, sheep, pigs and other costumes people chose to show their protest.

After a few minutes I stopped and stared at the whole scene. Although my presence was more the kind of a tourist and my motivation for being there was more curiosity than conviction, it came to me the feeling of joy that I feel when watching the celebrations of winning soccer teams. I do not know if I am the only person experiencing this weeping joy in moments like this. A group of men and women who despite -8 º C (perceived as -14 º C) chooses to walk for four hours on the streets of a ghost city, moved by no self-interest, but only moved by the romantic act of defending their dreamed world, their idea of ​​happiness, a world where food is natural and animals are respected, a world in which the soil is well treated and production does not affect the life chances of the next generations.

An hour later the caravan started. We walked about a mile or two, very slowly, making an almost circular course that ended in front of the Bundestag, the German congress building. The path was rather quiet, with some musical interventions, but with very few passionate expressions that elevate the protesters’ vibrations. When the temperature defeated our will, we retreated to a shelter to share a communal vegetarian soup and a few minutes later we returned to the bus that would take us another five hours back home.

I do not know whether the protest was effective or not, but I can tell that my general opinion on these changed a bit. Not because I now believe them to be effective, but because I realized they are not about convincing the government, but about persuading other citizens to demand the world we all deserve, about inviting them to dream together.

Then I remembered my country, I remembered the student protests of 2011, even remembered a post I wrote then and I wondered what became of the dream of public education for all, what happened with the commitment of the new generation of colombian youth.

I think yes, protests are valuable, they are important, but these only occur in specific situations, when a drop overflows the cup and people see the need to go out, take the street and express their collective sense. However, I suspect it is not on the street where dreams are born, but where dreams are uttered, dreams which have been built before, in closest circles, in family conversations, in classes, on the table, in the bed.

And suddenly I dream again, this time not with a country that protests, but with a country that discusses our common future, a place where people communicate and reach agreements, where friends enroll other friends in a collective dream, with a country built at home.

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“Global citizens”, a project of globalized elites?

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The World Values Survey periodically polls random samples of individuals around the world on their attitudes and attachments. A recent round of surveys asked people in fifty-five countries about the strength of their local, national and global identities. The results were similar across the world- and quite instructive. They reveal that attachment to the nation state overwhelms all other forms of identity. People see themselves primarily as citizens of their nation, next as members of their local community and only last as “global citizens”. The sole exceptions, where people identified more with the world than with their nation, were violence-ridden Colombia and tiny Andorra.

These surveys uncover an important divide between elites and the rest of the society. A strong sense of global citizenship tends to be confined, when it exists, to wealthy individuals and those with the highest levels of educational attainment. Conversely, attachment to the nation state is generally much stronger among individuals from lower social classes. This cleavage is perhaps not that surprising. Skilled professionals and investors can benefit from global opportunities whenever they may arise. The nation state and what it does matters a lot less to these people than it does to less mobile workers and others with fewer skills who have to make do with what’s nearby. This opportunity gap reveals a certain dark side to the clamor for global governance. The construction of transnational political communities is a project of globalized elites attuned largely to their needs.

Source:
Rodrik, Dani. The Globalization Paradox. Norton & Company 2011, p.231.

For more detailed info: http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

What I learned from my school trip

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This past week I was not only eating Sacher Torte and Schnitzel in Vienna. I took part in an Excursion from the university to visit some interesting non profit organizations in the austrian capital, like UNESCO, “Licht für die Welt”, OFID (OPEC) OPEC fund for international development, Fair trade Austria, OSCE – Organization for security and cooperation for Europe and FRA – Fundamental Rights Agency.

What did I like from the experience? That for the first time ever I am able to have a mental image of how could the life after the studies look like. How is it to work in an NGO, how are the offices, how are the people, how is their energy, how could I grow if I worked there are the questions answered somehow by this experience.

It showed me that most of these organizations are not only moved by the interests of capitalism as I had thought before, but that there are also really good things happening in the world and lots of people working to make them happen. For instance UNESCO has two really interesting lines of action that I didn’t know. Since a few years they realized that economics have been driving the social thought and the world in an unbalanced way, thus they find an urgent need for more philosophical thought and for that reason they’re supporting projects in this discipline. The second line of action that called my attention is called MOST, Management of Social Transformation and although we didn’t get to know more about it, now I’m interested in researching about this in depth. Before I had in mind the superficial idea that UNESCO worked for education and culture, but now I clearly understand how does it fit into the framework of the preservation of security and peace, like all the UN agencies.

Very different was the visit to OFID, the fund (can I say bank?) from the OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, most of them islamic countries and Venezuela. It was new for me to notice how big is the power of Venezuela in this group. This way I could see in my mind its influence networks and I can see now that it is indeed a powerful country. However, there you perceive the value system of this organization. I, personally, got the impression through architecture and communication, that it is moved almost solely by the power of money and that people are not really important there. I felt I don’t want to work in a place like this.

Going to the OSCE was taking a sip of the diplomatic life. We attended a small part of a meeting of the representatives from the 56 member countries. It allowed me to see living institutional arrangements and connect some learned theories with my perceptions there. At the end everything shows one more time that the United States are the real power behind all this organizations, but I still find it interesting to understand how does it exactly happen, that security and peace in continental Europe are good for the interests of uncle Sam.

Finally, the visit to the FRA was not as interesting as I expected but it was really effective for two reasons. First, while I was there I decided to write one of my semester papers about something like the history of human rights in the framework of the evolution of international relationships and the present challenges of extending this agreement to the rest of the world. Second, I got to know about the existence of a platform of 320 organizations working for human rights and now we know the way to approach this institutions.

In summary this visit made me think that I should experience working in a big institution for a while instead of staying in the entrepreneurship field for ever, but most importantly it proved me that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I still ignore.