Foristas in front of the new La Union library
What does it mean to be connected to a place that is not your own, to people who are strange and different from you, to a way of life that will never be yours?
We pondered these questions over the last two weeks with a group of former FOR volunteers who “returned” to Colombia. For almost ten years (our 10th anniversary in Colombia will be in February of 2012), FOR has maintained a permanent international presence in the peace community of San José de Apartadó and over 30 volunteers have spent up to a year of their lives accompanying La Union, one of the peace community settlements. After their time as volunteers, they go home to get on with their lives. Of the ten people who came back for the “Forista” reunion, two had become lawyers, two are getting doctorates in academia, there was a future nurse, a tireless organizer, an executive director of a small non profit and a wanderer, who had traveled far and wide to understand more deeply the experiences and lives of women in Latin America. But it turned out that accompaniment wasn’t a one way deal — in the streets of New York city, on the bus in Argentina, in the classrooms of San Francisco, none of them could shake what had happened to them here, in a small village in northeastern Colombia.
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