This past week was my most normal so far, and arguably one of the more anormal weeks for Colombia. In my spare time, I ate a ton (a traditional Bogotano lunch is a salad, fruit, large soup, meat/fish, rice, lentils/beans, juice, and dessert for $2.50USD) and enjoyed lots of music. I went with my old Airbnb host to our third Cuban salsa dancing class, attended a concert for peace at the National Museum, and went to an outdoor concert series with a couple of Fulbright friends that featured bands from around the country.
While I began to fall into a routine of morning yoga and Spanish practice, afternoon researching at coffee shops and meetings at the university, evening readings, and busy weekends, Colombia had much larger items on its agenda. This week, the country took a major step toward ending their 50+ year internal conflict with the signing of a peace accord between the Colombian government + the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
People have been telling the Fulbrighters about the possibility of peace since our arrival, and the signing of these accords – something that had been attempted before and failed – is bringing a lot of excitement to the country. Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the government negotiating with the FARC (former President Uribe, for instance, wants the accord rejected), and it’s going to take time to see how the actions behind the words of the accord play out. But there’s no doubt, this is momentous. You can read more on the signing here.
I headed back to the National University this morning and had more time to wander around and see some of the, ahem, art work that decorated the campus long before the signing of the agreement on Wednesday. And let me tell you, the graffiti and murals at this school are intense. Nearly every piece of art and/or graffiti that I’ve seen (both inside the buildings and outside the buildings) relates to Colombia’s peace process and many seem to be permanent momentos of former on-campus protests.
The student body is fascinating; so many identify as anarchists, as socialists, as revolutionaries, and they’ll let you know when they have something to say. The other, private universities I’ve seen around Bogota aren’t like this, and it goes without saying that US universities don’t come close either. This passion for widely-available education, for peace, and for the fight for justice is a sentiment reserved for South America’s largest universities. I remember it from when I was in Valparaíso, Chile, and I’m definitely seeing it again in Bogotá, Colombia.