April 17th, 2019

Hi, my name is Andrés Caro. I am a M.A. student in the University of Chicago, graduating this summer. I am from Bogotá, Colombia, where I plan to live and to work. My academic and professional interests lie in the intersections of the humanities, politics and law, and I am particularly curious about the ways in which violence and human rights violations shape moral and political communities, and how those communities can overcome atrocity and achieve peace.

For this reason, I applied to the IHouse program co-sponsored by the University and by the Davis United World College Scholars Program called “Davis Projects for Peace”, a grant that gives a student –or a group of students– 10.000 USD to develop a program for fostering peace in any region of the world.

The program with which I won the Grant seeks to address ­–in a small scale– the problems that face about one million Venezuelans that have come to Colombia fleeing from Venezuela’s dictatorship and famine. With the arrival of such a massive diaspora, Colombia has shown hospitality but there have been some incidents of xenophobia.

The program will create a safe space for disenfranchised Venezuelan and Colombian children in which they will be able to interact, play sports, and reflect on their experiences in one of the poorest areas near Bogotá, Colombia. In several sessions distributed in the summer vacations month, those children and some of their mothers, will be able to acquire tools to avoid racism, to avoid conflicts, and to manage their emotions in such a way that will enable them to become peaceful actors in their homes and communities. At the same time, those newly-come Venezuelan mothers will gain the tools to prepare themselves for the Colombian labor market, and will learn how to attain social benefits.

I have two amazing partners in Colombia: Tiempo de Juego and Sinestesia, two organizations that have worked with Colombian children and other vulnerable groups but who are new in working with Venezuelans.

These series of workshops, generously sponsored by the Davis Projects for Peace and by UChicago, will enable us to create a pilot of social work with migrant kids and mothers, and to create local knowledge on how to deal with migration. Hopefully, we will be able to create a space that will be replicated in other regions of Colombia, encouraging partnerships with other actors.

The Grant will enable such a space of peaceful coexistence in which the experience of past violence and repression will be transformed in a series of personal and communitarian narratives that will promote hospitality and conflict resolution.

I will keep writing and posting. If you have comments, questions or suggestions, please write to me (andrescaro@uchicago.edu).

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