Excerpt from the Spring 2012 Boletin on Fordham's Bogota, Colombia Spring Break Trip.
Over Spring Break, a group of students from three LALSI classes, along with Professor Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, Dean Luz Lenis and myself, traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, to take a seminar on peace and justice issues at the Pontifica Universidad Javeriana, the Jesuit University of Bogotá.
The coursework included daily seminars on the history of Colombia, the economic and political situation of the country, and the current status of the decades-long civil war with the FARC. The professors were excellent and clearly have a great love for their country. Additionally, we made a visit to a technical school for children which is supported by the Javeriana. The school moved everyone in the group deeply; it was a concrete example of a movement to close the extensive gap between the rich and poor in Colombia (the country has the largest disparity between upper and lower classes of all countries in Latin America).
Besides our academic studies, Bogotá also offered a large range of exciting activities that we enjoyed greatly. We went to a traditional coffee plantation to see the time honored process of Colombia’s greatest export. This also provided us with a few hours traveling around the larger region outside of Bogotá, giving us a glimpse of the beautiful, quiet country that lies outside of the densely populated city of ten million residents. Nevertheless, in Bogotá we visited the Museo del Oro, the Candelaría (historic area of the city), Plaza Bolívar, and the mount Monserrate.
The trip was a definite success for everyone. For myself, a return to Colombia was a return to a very familiar place, and for the entire group it was a time that left us asking ourselves how we can connect more with the great university there, how we can bring back some of the actions we saw - closing the gap between rich and poor, encouraging Fordham to focus on justice in our local neighborhood, and challenge ourselves on our preconceived notions of places and peoples.