Mi Voz, Nuestra Historia (My Voice, Our Story): Cultivating Social and Educational Inclusion in Colombia

Activists Julieth, Angela, and Neris traveled from Cali, on the Pacific coast of Colombia, to the capital of Bogotá (population 8 million) to share their stories with the future educators of ÚNICA.
The day-long UNICULTURAL workshop explored the project’s central questions: What is the role of the educator in building equity and inclusion in a new era of peace? How can I apply digital storytelling and principles of popular education to build a more inclusive classroom?
A joyful reunion dinner the night before UNICULTURAL
Sarah introducing the ÚNICA student presenters and Mi Voz, Nuestra Historia invited panelists.
ÚNICA Director María Lucía Casas kicked off the day by welcoming guests. “Este concepto de la voz, este concepto de contar historias, de que significa poder contar, es la manera de que se tejen puentes, es una relación que va para siempre. Hoy van a ver como muchas cosas que parecen que nos diferencian, al contrario, nos unen como colombianos, en nuestra sentido de ser docentes…lo que estamos diciendo es que quiero estirar mi mano y quiero prestar mi voz para que estemos todos juntos y para que nos encontremos.” [This concept of voice, of telling stories and what it means to be able to tell them, is the way we build bridges. It’s a connection that lasts forever. Today, you’re going to see many things that at first seem to show how we’re different, but it’s really the opposite. These ideas unite us as Colombians and unite us in our quest to be educators. What we’re saying today is: I reach out my hand to you and I lend my voice so that we can find common ground, together.]
The “Mi Voz, Nuestra Historia” workshop team (L to R: Neris Obando, Charlie Buenaño, Sarah Cohen, Angela Angulo, Julieth Balanta, and Laura Vacca)
The exit ticket after the workshop asked students to give a personal definition of “popular education as a tool for inclusion.” This one reads: “[Popular education] is giving a group of people the opportunity to get to know and express themselves to others. It’s sharing stories and knowledge through the voice of another, regardless of color, race, or gender. [In popular education] Words hold power and they are treated with the same potential and equal weight by and for everyone.”
ÚNICA student Charlie Buenaño and “Profe” Neris Obando exchange stories over lunch.
Julieth, on the panel “What is popular education?”: “La educación popular es: dar vida, dar voz, dar un espacio a esas historias que casi no figuran en nuestro diario de vivir. A mi me parece bastante poderoso la idea de que mi historia, mi experiencia, pueda ser fuente de conocimiento. Es una educación que no tiene arriba ni abajo, no tiene fronteras, sino que es bastante ‘tu a mi’, que conecta.” [Popular education is giving life, giving voice, giving a space to those stories that are basically unheard in our daily lives. It seems exceptionally powerful to me that my voice, my story, can be a source of knowledge. It’s a non-hierarchical education without borders, connecting us directly — me to you.]

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store