Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Day 1

Wow, my head is already spinning with thoughts and it's only Day 1. The people here are incredible- so friendly, hospitable, helpful. I am reaffirmed how much I love this continent-and I think at this point I can say continent! I feel completely safe so don't worry Mom :)
I think a daily blog will be necessary to help me process all the thoughts. Today was mostly interviews with staff and concluded with an amazing concert by a contemporary ensemble of music from around Latin America-incredibly well done! Interdisciplinary, visuals for every song, musical excellence, and fun! Despite Monday being a "bad day for cultural outings" there were 1750 people in the audience! Amazing and truly inspirational. I definitely took notes for how to improve CMC performances so stay tuned!!
I learned so much! It always happens over the "cafecito," the spontaneous interviews you didn't have planned! I ended up having two interviews in a row-both unplanned. One was with the director of the entire program and one was with the pedagogical coordinator. I won't lie, I was jealous such a position existed, but I guess with 5300 students and 27 sites that's allowed. I'll save the facts/figures for my thesis unless someone wants a specific fact, but I am super excited to have a sequential socioemotional learning process document. SO many programs talk about the social skills but this is the first program I've seen that has activities and an aspect dedicated to it. Stay tuned once it's translated and compiled!
Geoff, I think you would be pleased. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the goals of the program were to expand culturally, both in pedagogic practices and in the repertoire, so that European music wasn't the dominant type, but rather "horizontal" to other whether that be a tango orchestra or a violin piece by a Latin composer. I'll get the exact demographics at some point, but the grand majority of participants are "mixed" meaning the large African population, indigenous populations, and others, are not super well represented and they want to be a reflection of the community. They are not only saying this, but their goals reflect this desire. The new director was younger than I would have expected (mid 30s), but seems very well-intentioned and is a musician himself.
The program, note I did not say organization and I learned some of the great challenges that come with this, is incredibly sustainable because there is an agreement from the City Council that it must be guaranteed and 100% funded by the Mayor's office. However, one of the great challenges I learned is because it's a program and not an organization there are fluctuations in the budget, amount of teachers hired yearly, etc. The city gives the budget and then they plan their program instead of the opposite, like in the US. What was amazing to me was to hear Julian, the curriculum director, that it's only a 9 month program-and they are not paid the other three months so they have to save money and plan for that. He has done that for 13 years! And next year, he could not be invited back-but that hasn't happened and he continues to have faith.
Everyone has been so gracious and excited to have me. So approachable. I'm giving a presentation to all 16 of the administration on Wed morn at 8 am (no hora latina here!) and after meeting them today, I'm not concerned at all. They're all so approachable and want to help however they can. They're willing to share anything and already have so much more documented than Venezuela. I'll save their history for my thesis, but always interesting and have a good context to begin interviews tomorrow.
Well I promised myself an early bedtime. My hostal is lovely with a terrace and a covered rooftop kitchen overlooking all of Medellin. I'm LOVING the Metrobus and very thankful to have data through T-Mobile free of charge as SIM didn't work since iPhones are locked. Decided to retreat to the hostal after the concert instead of going to another concert, but there's one every night this week so I'm sure I'll say more (see a few pics on Facebook).
Te despido. Buenas noches!

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