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    15 Years in Colombia

    This year we are celebrating 15 years of protective, unarmed accompaniment in Colombia. We have learned so much along the way from our partners, friends, and allies, sharing unforgettable moments that have shown us the power that nonviolent resistance has to transform conflict, communities, and the world. We asked former volunteers to reflect on these past years:

    FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION USA

    INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION

    KAYA ALLEN SUGARMAN

    NIKKI DRAKE

    SOPHIE DUVAL

    AJ AMANDA JACK

    JOHN LINDSAY POLAND

    GINA SPIGARELLI

    SARAH WEINTRAUB

    GALE VIRGINIA STAFFORD

     

    Where Small Town USA meets Rural Colombia

    FORPP accompanier Kati Hinman reflects on her childhood growing up in Norfolk, a small town in the U.S. Today, she accompanies in the Peace Community in a far-flung, small Colombian village. She reflects on how small town USA meets rural Colombia.

    Originally published in Norfolk Now

    Recollections of Norfolk and Colombia
    Living in South America after a Norfolk childhood

    Since moving away from Norfolk, I´ve always been proud of my small town background. I can’t count the number of times people have asked “did you say twelve HUNDRED!” or “but how can you not have a grocery store?” When I moved abroad, first to the Dominican Republic and now to Colombia, I was excited to live again in a rural area. I´m reassured by the constant flow of children playing tag, neighbors offering us milk and eggs, and even the gossip, though I try hard to avoid being the center of it.


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    International Delegation to Colombia

    FELLOWSHIP OF RECONCILIATION (FOR) PEACE PRESENCE AND IFOR AUSTRIA PRESENT
    PEACEBUILDING IN THE TIME OF AGREEMENTS

    INTERNATIONAL DELEGATION TO COLOMBIA, SEPTEMBER 11 – 21, 2017


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    Gale Virginia Stafford 15th Anniversary Message

    Gale Virginia Stafford

    Escribo desde lejos con corazón lleno de amor en este aniversario. No puedo contarles todo lo que me han enseñado y lo que aprendí de mi tiempo trabajando con ustedes en Colombia!

    Acompañar es un trabajo duro, pero siempre la parte más fuerte era de escuchar las historias de nuestrxs acompañadxs, y la parte más inspiradora era el pensamiento y la fuerza de sus respuestas y la lucha pacífica.
    Hoy en día soy una profesora de español de secundario. Hablo en español y pienso en ustedes todos los días – traigo conmigo todas las experiencias que tuve durante mi tiempo en Colombia, y enseño a mis estudiantes sobre ellas.

    También les cuento de mi tiempo allá y lo más que pueda de las personas increíbles que conocí allá, y de su resistencia tenaz contra varios partidos conocidos y a veces no tan conocidos. Al momento en Estados Unidos tenemos unas dificultades propias, con un presidente y un gobierno también que está poniendo unas policías y leyes cada vez más racistas y temorosas, y con violencia aumentando. Hablo con muchxs de mis mis estudiantes, quienes tienen miedo, y les cuento de otros lugares donde se ha sufrido mucho, pero se pone aún más fuerte por eso, y tienen más esperanza.

    Les extraño muchísimo a todxs, y espero visitarles cuando la plata me alcanze. Hasta allí, que me guarden una arepa y bailen una por mi parte.

    Abrazotes a todo el mundo, con cariño y en solidaridad,

    I am writing you from afar with my heart full of love during this anniversary. I cannot tell you everything that you have taught me, and that I have learned during my time with you in Colombia!

    Accompaniment is a difficult job, but the hardest part was always to hear the stories of our accompanied partners, and the most inspirational part was the thoughts and the strength of the responses, and the pacifist struggle.

    Today, I am a secondary school Spanish teacher. I speak in Spanish and think of all of you every day – I have taken all these experiences with me that I had during my time in Colombia, and I teach my students about them. I tell them about my time there and, as much as I can, tell them about the incredible people that I met there, and of their fierce resistance against groups who were sometimes known, and other times unknown. Right now in the United States, we have our own difficulties, with a president and government that are putting policy and laws into place that are becoming more and more racist and scary, and violence is increasing. I speak with many of my students, who also are afraid, and I tell them about places that have suffered a lot, but that have become stronger because of it, and remain hopeful.

    I miss all of you so much, and I hope to visit when I have enough money. Until then, save an arepa and dance for me,

    A big hug for everyone, with love and in solidarity.

    Virginia

    Sarah Weintraub 15th Anniversary Message

    Sarah Weintraub

    Felidades a la CDP y a FORPP. Les quiero y les aprecio muchísimo. Pienso en mis amigos y amigas allá siempre y les llevo siempre en mi corazón. Con mucho cariño y amor — gracias por todo que han dado al mundo y que me han dado a mí.

     

    Congratulations to the CdP and to FORPP. I love you and am grateful for all of you. I always think of my friends there, and I carry you with me in my heart. With much fondness and love – thank you for everything that you have given to this world, and have given to me.