Rineicha Otero in Colombia – Day 6 & 7

Thursday, 8/22/2013

Today I got to visit la Universidad de San Buenaventura Cali, where Ginna received her degree.  I could see Ginna’s pride while she gave me the tour, along with a colleague. The campus was environmentally friendly; it was surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes.

I had the opportunity to present to a group of 30 Agro-Industrial Engineering students. I spoke about the University of Connecticut, its outreach programs, and 4-H. Many students expressed interest in starting 4-H in Colombia and the positive impact it would have on the youth.

I also met with Claudia Gutierrez, the director of the Agro-Industrial Engineering program.  Claudia gave me an introduction to the department and its outreach programs in indigenous areas. She expressed great interest in collaboration with UConn Extension.

Friday, 8/23/2013

I got to go to San Jorge, today, using public transportation. It was very exhilarating; you felt every shift on the transmission of the 15-passenger truck. There was a driver and a spotter; the spotter looked to make sure you were totally off the bus before telling the driver to keep on moving, and the bus never really stopped. I had never jumped off a moving vehicle before—if my mom could only see me now.

Johnnie was waiting for us at the bus stop to give Ginna and me a detailed tour of the community. He showed me where the brick company was working and where they were still excavating. There were many brick companies in the community, which have now gone, since there is limited nutrient rich soil left.

Families have constructed their homes in this community. Most homes are made of bricks with wood roofs, while others are made of wood and tin roofs.

Doña Nelly and Erminia are working with the other women to produce more of the bracelets. They have chosen patterns and colors to work on as a group. For the ladies that need training, they learn by doing and little instruction, I was awestruck with the rapidness with which they worked and got the patterns down.  I enjoyed the conversations I had with the ladies; listening to their stories and seeing their positive attitudes towards life made me have a moment of reflection.