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Posts Tagged ‘Colombia’

I love going out and giving my $10 away.  However, I have to admit there have been a very small handful of days when I am just not motivated.  This is one of those days.  I was not feeling well and just wanted to go to bed, but I forced myself into some presentable clothes and headed out in the drizzling darkness.

KULTURAs at 1728 Conn. Ave. (photo: Reed)

I saw a man sitting in a folding chair on the sidewalk of Connecticut Avenue.  He was wearing a long sleeve shirt opened up with a white t-shirt underneath, jeans and flip flops.  His calm, easy demeanor unaffected by the light rain that fell on his shoulders.  Andrew is the owner of KULTURAs Bookstore at 1728 Connecticut Avenue which is nestled on the west side of Connecticut just north of Dupont Circle.  It’s a wonderful shop featuring second-hand and rare books as well as small but unique collection of consignment clothing.  They even sell some handmade ponchos commonly found in parts of Latin America.  I had been in the bookstore during the snowpocalypse we had last winter.  “We opened during the snow storm, so you must have stopped in during the first week,” Andrew told me.  This was KULTURAs second stint in the Dupont area.  Andrew explained that he and his wife had had a store in the area for a long time but in 2006 they packed the family up and moved 3,000 miles to Santa Monica, CA where they continued with KULTURAs. 

Andrew peering out the store front. (photo: Reed)

The rain started to pick up and we walked inside where he sunk into a chair behind a wooden desk.  “The timing wasn’t ideal given the economy,” Andrew said referring to the fact that after three years they decided to move back to DC last fall.  “It was fun though…we had a blast!”  He told me about their house that overlooked the Santa Monica Bay.  “I’d go surfing with my kids before school,” he reminisced as he propped his right leg up on the edge of the desk.

His upbringing consisted of periods of time living in DC, Detroit and Texas although he said he felt most comfortable in the Los Angeles area where he has family.  After graduating from the George Washington University with a degree in Latin American studies, he spent a year studying at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.  “I even took a weaving class there!” he told me.  I mentioned that I had spent a few weeks in Manizales, Colombia this year and he knew the area.

He married his wife in the late 80s and now has two children; one in high school and the other in college.

KULTURAs also sells consignment clothes and handmade ponchos. (photo: Reed)

Andrew is easy to talk to.  The conversation naturally drifted to the topic of owning a bookstore.  “I like interacting with people,” he says.  “Someone will come in and ask for a particular book and then you discover there is an entire story behind why they are looking for that book.”  I could relate to this.  It’s similar to what I have said about the Year of Giving – everyone has a story.  KULTURAs gives store credit for books that they buy.  Andrew says that can be exciting as well.  “Sometimes you find a real treasure!”

I was interested to hear his opinion about the long-term outlook for books.  It seems that technology is murdering the traditional print media.  The timeliness of news makes it a perfect subject to be transmitted via computers and handheld devices.  Magazines and books have also been threatened by Kindles and Nooks.  “I think physical books will diminish significantly,” the 52-year-old says pointing out that younger generations prefer to get their information online.  I do think books will begin to be read more on electronic tablets and devices we haven’t even dreamed of yet, but perhaps there will still be a strong attachment for some people to have a physical book in their hands.  Maybe it’s the sound of cracking open a new book or the musty smell of an old book or perhaps it’s just the idea of turning pages that attract some of us. 

An outside shot of Andrew ringing up a customer. (photo: Reed)

Speaking of books, I wandered around KULTURAs.  I saw lots of interesting books about art, architecture, cooking, philosophy, etc.  They even have a good number of books in foreign languages.  But it was Donald Miller’s first book Through Painted Deserts that caught my eye and ended up going home with me.  A friend of mine was recently talking about Miller and a conference of his that she was attending in Portland, Oregon.  She is a fan and I thought I would pick up his book and give it a chance.

As for the $10, Andrew said that he was going to use that to buy some groceries. 

When I left I realized I felt much better.  Maybe it was just getting out of the house?  Maybe the Year of Giving helped in some way.  For a half hour I forgot all about how I felt, the work that went unfinished that day, or the emails I still had to write. 

For more information on KULTURAs, check out their website or stop in and visit them at:
Dupont Circle: 1728 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Tenleytown: 4918 Wisconsin Avenue,  NW

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The day had finally come that I had to return to Washington after almost two weeks of incredible work in Manizales. 

I am working on a collage of photos of my trip that I hope to post soon.

I left the coffee and banana finca for the last time and made the way up the mountain.  Four-wheel drive is a must.  I hopped out as we got to Adriana and Augusto’s store and switched the ten dollar bill and we continued on our way.

It’s a pretty drive, wrapping around the mountainous roads of Colombia’s coffee belt for two hours. 

I arrived with plenty of time and started to make my way through the check-in process.  Now I have been to Colombia before and am familiar with the multiple revisions that they do of your luggage, but this time it went a step further.  I had purchased some coffee and other goods to bring back as gifts for some friends.  They poked holes in almost every item I had and tasted it.  They opened up the Colombian rum that I had purchased and poured some over their finger to make sure that it wasn’t liquid heroin!  I know the man was just doing his job and that he is doing it for all the right reasons, however, it’s frustrating to watch someone open and damage all of your gifts for others.

While I was being searched I noticed another man that was being searched who looked familiar.  I asked the customs officer who he was and he said that it was Tego Calderon

, a well-known Latin American Reggaetón artist.  I had heard of his name but couldn’t say that I was familiar with his music.  Anyway, I thought he might be an interesting person to give him my $10. 

Tego Calderon

On board the flight from Pereira, Colombia to Panama’s Tocumen International Airport I saw Tego again.  He was being moved up from coach to first class.  We arrived in Panama and were met on the tarmac by a shuttle bus that took us to the terminal.  As I squeezed into the crowded shuttle bus I found myself shoulder to shoulder with the Puerto Rican musician who appeared to be travelling with his wife and some friends or band members.  I asked him how the concert went in Pereira and he politely replied that it went well.  Then there was a little silence and he turned to chat with one of his friends.

So many of you have written to me talking about anxiety to approach someone and give them $10.  Well, let me tell you…I was very nervous about Tego to accept my $10, but I did.  He accepted my card and read both sides of it.  “So what is it?” he asked in Spanish.  I explained very quickly the concept and he replied, “Man, I don’t have time, we got to catch a flight to Santo Domingo.”  I assured him it would be fast, but he just smiled and laughed and shook his head.  As the doors opened and he exited the shuttle bus he said “I’ll check out your website.”  He and his entourage quickly vanished.

While waiting for the flight to depart, I tried to give my $10 to Alfredo, a COPA Airlines pilot, but he just didn’t feel comfortable.  He asked a lot of questions but didn’t seem to get the giving project.

I boarded my final flight, COPA 488 from Panama to Washington’s Dulles International Airport.  I had seat 14A which is by the emergency exit and doesn’t have a seat in front of it.  As I approached my seat I saw that someone was sitting there.  After double checking tickets, it turns out that Roey was supposed to be in 14B: the middle seat.

The flight was just under five hours and was scheduled to land at 12:55AM.  So I knew I was going to continue the streak of 174 days without missing a day of giving, I needed to find someone on this flight and give them the $10 before we land.  

The plane took off and I pulled out a notebook to try to write some of the blogs from the previous days.  I was so far behind (and still am) and needed to get caught up.  I didn’t have my notebook out one minute before Roey, now in 14B, asked, “Do you journal?  I have more than 2,000 journal entries.”  Inside I was smiling as I realized that I just found my day’s recipient!

Roey (Photo: Reed)

Roey is 29 and lives in Bethesda.  Originally from Israel, he moved here when he was five.  He is passionate about his religion and his heritage and shared openly with me.  When he is not out pursuing some adventure in Costa Rica, Roey works in information security for a firm that specializes in auditing government information systems for compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act.  

He was traveling with three friends on their way back from a trip to Costa Rica.  They met on Gesher City DC, a social website that according to the site is the “one-stop connection to all things young and Jewish in DC!”  They had been on an amazing eco-farm while they were there.  Roey got his camera out and showed me the many photographs he took while visiting this beautiful natural paradise.  Here Roey talks a little bit about his general impressions of the “Ticos” – that is the name given to the local people of Costa Rica.

We talked about coffee, as I had just been on a coffee plantation and some of the people that he met on his trip were in the coffee business.  It sounded like the highlight of their trip was a day that they visited the Cacao Trails in Cahuita.  Roey said they got to see the entire chocolate making process.  And no tour apparently is complete without tasting the final product.  “It was the best chocolate I have ever tasted,” Roey told me.  He explained that the flavor is so much better because they do not extract the cocoa butter like many commercialized chocolate manufacturers do. 

Roey wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the $10 but he said he planned to do something for someone else.  I look forward to hearing how it was used.

We talked the length of the entire flight.  I met his two friends Julia and David too (the fourth friend took a different flight).  In fact, I even gave Julia and David a ride home.  They didn’t live too far away from where I live so it was nice to be able to help them out.  Roey stayed behind as his parents were on their way to pick him up.

Roey fresh off the plane (Photo: Reed)

Roey is a guy who likes to make connections.  He loves to think of the people that he knows that might be able to help you out or simply be a good friend.  I think I left with a half-dozen names of people or places that he thought might be of interest to me.  I haven’t followed up on them yet, although I should.  Roey loves to meet new people and if you are in the DC area and open to meeting new people, I know Roey would love to meet up!

An interesting tidbit.  The following day the blog was accessed by somebody in Santo Domingo.  I don’t have too many visitors from there, so who knows, maybe it was Tego!

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My father, Manny (blog follower), and Sammy (Day 113) at the WWDoG DC Get-Together (Photo: Ryan Sandridge)

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Worldwide Day of Giving!  It was amazing.  So many great stories from all over…pictures and even video from some people!  I received a lot of emails from people who said that they tried, but just couldn’t do it.  It was too far out of their comfort zone.  That’s ok.  You tried.  Keep trying. 

I also received lots of emails from people who want to continue doing this every 15th of the month…what a great idea.  Feel free to continue to post your stories here or on Facebook WHENEVER you pay it forward.  I will remind everyone on July 15th for those who want to give it another try!

A lot of you have asked how the DC Meet-Up went.  I was so happy to see so many former recipients, followers of the blog, people I only knew from their comments, and even people who had received $10 from someone on the Worldwide Day of Giving that then joined us at the happy hour.  All the local news stations were also there.  I will try to get links for all the media from that day, including the two earlier interviews I did that day on News Channel 8 and CNN.

I am excited to write about my recipients for today’s post.  As my trip was winding down in Manizales, I started to get sad as the trip was coming to an end.  The day before I left I was in the Guacas area where I was staying getting ready for a barbecue that Roberto Gonzalo was organizing.  About 10 minutes up (literarily up the mountain) there is a small store that has some billiard tables and a TV for neighborhood people to come together.  Roberto Gonzalo and I had stopped by there on a few occasions and bought items we needed or enjoyed a beer at the end of the day.  This night I thought I would go and get to know them and see what they would do with my $10.

I left the gated area of the plantation and started to ascend up the mountain.  I can’t convey to you how steep this hill is.  The store is only about 200-250 yards away, but it is a workout to get there.  Pinto the dog escaped and was at my side as I lift one leg in front of the other.  My heart starts to pound and sweat is rolling off my forehead.  I stop for about a minute to catch my breath.  The altitude adds another level of complexity at 7,000 feet.  Pinto knows the way and he runs on ahead of me as I crest the incline and see the store off to the left.. 

Adriana, Augusto, and Pamela

The store is owned by Adriana and Augusto who live upstairs with their seven-year-old daughter.  I had seen them a few times while I was on my trip.  Augusto was always out front working on something; cutting wood on the lathe, welding some metal, working on a car, etc.  Adriana tends to the store and their daughter. 

It is a holiday weekend and many people have traveled leaving the store void of the usually two or three locals chatting about the election or the upcoming World Cup.  I find Augusto leaning over a table that has a large metal door laying flat on top of it.  Clad with goggles he wields a welding torch with his right hand along one of the edges of the metal door.  He gives me a wave and I walk toward Adriana who is sitting outside at a table with her daughter. 

View from Augusto/Adriana's store (Photo: Reed)

By this time Augusto had retired the blow torch and had walked over to the table.  We made some small talk and then I told them about my project.    I sat down and shared with them the journey that has become my passion over the past six months.

Adriana, who is 28, tells me that the store has been there for as long as she can remember.  It has been in the family for years.  She manages the store and also makes homemade morcilla which she sells in the city.  Morcilla is a type of sausage that is made by cooking blood from pigs, cows, goats, etc then adding a filler such as rice until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.  I was introduced to morcilla when I lived in Valladolid, Spain.  Although it is quite tasty, I usually try not to think about what goes into it.

Augusto is the Colombia version of MacGyver.  Every time I would see him he was fixing something.  He is an industrial mechanic by trade, but he is a skilled woodworker, metalworker, carpenter, plumber, auto mechanic, etc.  He even likes to do car detailing.  The 32-year-old builds more in a week than I have in my entire life.  I asked him what the door was for and he said that the local prison had contracted him to make 12 doors for them.  I would think they would contract those sort of things with large companies, but “MacGyver” has a good reputation and the work flows his way.

A former police officer, he made the career change after being sent to the tension stricken border area between neighboring Ecuador.  “It was too dangerous for me,” he states “and I like to work with my hands.”

Adriana said something to her daughter and she disappeared into the store.  Pamela had been sitting patiently at the table the entire time that we spoke.  She reappeared minutes later and walked over to me and placed a cold bottle of the local beer, Poker, on the table next to me.  That is just the kind of hospitality that people grow up with here.  She smiled and went back to her chair.

I wanted to find out more about how Adriana and Auguto met.  Adriana told me about how they had actually known each other almost all their lives.  In fact, they even dated when they were teenagers, but later separated.  They reconnected years later and married.

Augusto had several questions about the Year of Giving.  We talked about how it got started, my family, and some of the other people I have met along the way.  I explained that they could look up the blog online, but they didn’t have internet access.  There is another small store about 100 yards away that has a computer where you can pay to surf the web.  I mentioned that they could go and look it up there.  Maybe they will do that.

I offered them either dollars or pesos.  Augusto said he would prefer dollars.  “For now I think I’ll  keep it as a reminder of us meeting each other.”  I only had one ten dollar bill with me and it was really beat up.  I placed it in his hand and told him that I would stop by the next day on my way to the airport and give him one in a little better shape.  He nodded as if to say that was ok, but not necessary. 

We wrapped up our conversation.  I paid for the beer and bought a few more to take to the barbecue.  As I headed down the driveway and turned onto the dirt road to make the journey down the mountain, Pinto appeared out of nowhere.  I had completely forgotten that he had accompanied me on the journey.  It was now pitch dark out and the lack of street lighting makes the walk down the mountain slightly challenging, although I’ll take walking down the mountain in the dark over walking up the mountain any day.  Especially with Pinto by my side, he knows the way.

The next day as we left for the airport, I hopped out of the jeep to make good on my word about exchanging the ten dollar bill.  Augusto and his family were sitting at a table eating lunch.   “I have been thinking a lot about your project today” he said.  “It’s really amazing.”  We switched the $10 and said “until the next time.”

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Versión en español sigue abajo.

Good morning and welcome to the Worldwide Day of Giving!!!

Today is a day that you can do what I have been doing for 182 days (I am behind on posting my blogs).  It’s so simple…find someone you don’t know, tell them you are participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving and give them $10, or whatever you can afford, no strings attached and find out what they will do with the $10.  Hopefully you can learn a little bit about them as well.  I always get their contact information and then try to stay in touch.  Have fun with it!  Then I hope you will share your stories here…if you take pictures or video, you can post your stories on the Facebook Page.

I have a couple of media interviews today.  This morning I am heading over to News Channel 8’s Let’s Talk Live for an interview with Natasha Barrett and Melanie Hastings.  Then around 2:30 I will be on CNN with Ali Velshi.  Finally this evening, I will be celebrating here in DC at Café Dupont (The Dupont Hotel) from 6-8pm.  If you are around, please join us!

Interviewing Sandra in her classroom (Photo: Roberto Gonzalo Ceballos)

On day 172 I found myself at the Instituto Tecnico Marco Fidel Suarez (ITMFS), a grade school in Manizales.  The kids here are similar to the those at the San Agustin school.  They come from very simple backgrounds.  Poverty is rampant and sometimes the brightest part of their day is the time they spend at school.  “Sometimes the meal they get here might be the only meal they get all day,” says Sandra, and English teacher at the school.

The bilingual chorus that I was working with at this school was made up of Sandra’s students.  After we were done rehearsing with the students, Sandra stayed to talk to me some and I found my recipient for my 20,000 pesos.  

Photo: Reed

An educator for the past 13 years, Sandra never imagined she would be teaching at a school like ITMFS.  “I was teaching at the University.” And before that she had some pretty impressive jobs translating and interpreting for the Ambassador from India.  “I don’t know how it happened but somehow I ended up teaching here and I am so happy to be here.” 

Colombia divides it’s neighborhoods into socio-economic categories called strata.  The wealthiest is six and the poorest is zero.  This school has children from the zero and one strata.  To me the concept was unfamiliar to identify people so readily by a stratum based upon where they lived, but here it was quite common.  In fact, many of the students that I met would ask me which stratum I belonged to.  A question that I didn’t know how to answer but comparatively speaking, it was surely much higher.

Sandra is passionate about teaching.  She speaks English all the time and expects her students to try their hardest.  Most of the students were lucky to know a few words in English.  The hope is that by learning the songs that we teach them that they will make a connection and learn more quickly.  There was one girl who was quite advanced in the chorus.  She had an amazing natural ability I think for languages.  Sounding almost like a proud mother she nodded her head and said, “Yes, she is quite good isn’t she.”

I learned that English is not the only thing that Sandra is passionate about.  Now the proud mother really came out and she flipped through her phone for a second and handed it to me.  “I have the most special baby boy: Juan Felipe.” He is three and looked so happy in the photos she shared.  

I shot a little video of the class singing as well as Sandra explaining what she was going to do with the $10 and why.  This one is in English.  Enjoy.

Versión en español

En el día 172 estuve en el Instituto Técnico Marco Fidel Suárez (ITMFS), una escuela del sector público en Manizales. Los niños de acá son parecidos a los del Colegio San Agustín. Tienen un historial muy simple en donde la pobreza es excesiva y algunas veces, la mejor parte del día es el tiempo que están en la escuela. “Algunas veces la única comida que tienen es la que comen aquí” dice Sandra, la docente de inglés.

El coro bilingüe lo integran los alumnos que asisten a clase con Sandra. Después de haber terminado el ensayo con los estudiantes, me quedo con Sandra para hablar un poco y encuentro a quien darle mis 20,000 pesos.

Sandra, siendo docente durante 13 años, nunca imaginó que estaría enseñando en una escuela como el ITMFS. “Fui docente  a nivel universitario” y antes había trabajado como traductora e intérprete para el Embajador de la India. “No sé cómo sucedió pero de un momento a otro terminé enseñando aquí y estoy feliz de hacerlo.”

Students at ITMFS (Photo: Reed)

En Colombia los barrios se clasifican en categorías socio-económicas llamadas estratos. El estrato más rico es el seis y el más pobre es el cero. Los estudiantes de esta escuela provienen de estratos cero y uno. Para mí el concepto no era familiar, es decir, identificar a las personas rápidamente sólo con base en el lugar donde viven; pero aquí en Colombia es algo demasiado común. De hecho, muchos de los estudiantes que conocí, me preguntaron a qué estrato pertenecía. Una pregunta que no supe cómo responder, pero comparativamente hablando, de seguro mucho más alto.

Sandra es apasionada con respecto a su trabajo, habla en inglés todo el tiempo y espera que sus estudiantes hagan su mayor esfuerzo. Muchos de los estudiantes son afortunados al conocer algunas palabras en inglés. Se espera que aprendiendo las canciones que les enseñamos, los estudiantes hagan una conexión y aprendan más rápidamente. Había una estudiante en el ensayo del coro, quien estaba muy avanzada con respecto a los otros; creo que tiene una extraordinaria habilidad innata para los idiomas. Con el tono de voz de una madre orgullosa Sandra mueve su cabeza y dice: “Sí, es muy buena para el inglés”.

Aprendí que no sólo el inglés es lo que apasiona a Sandra. Aparece una madre orgullosa quien saca su teléfono celular, busca por un momento y me muestra una foto: ¨Tengo el bebé más especial: Juan Felipe.” Tiene tres años y se ve muy feliz en las fotos.

Grabé un corto video (encima)  en donde aparece el ensayo del coro y Sandra explicando qué va a hacer con los $10 y por qué. Está en inglés. Disfrútenlo.

Este blog fue traducido generosamente por Sandra Toro en Manizales, Colombia.

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Versión en español sigue abajo.

Tomorrow is the big day.  Have you been thinking about who you might give your $10 to?  Don’t over think it.  Follow your heart.  Tell them what you are doing.  Explain to them quickly what the Year of Giving is about.  If you are at a loss on how to start the conversation, maybe this example that I sent to some friends will help. 

Hi…I was wondering if you could help me on a personal project that I am doing…well, let me explain to you what the project is and you can decide for yourself. I am participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving, a day that celebrates altruistic giving and community engagement. The project is simple….I find one person who I don’t know and give them $10, no strings attached. I would love for you to be the recipient of my $10.” 

If they say yes, you can ask other questions and learn more about them….etc. If they are still unsure, explain that if they say no, then you will simply have to find someone else. If they say they are not worthy of the $10, tell them they do not have to keep it and that they can do anything they want to with it. If they say that they prefer that you give it to someone who needs it, remind them that they can also do that. Sometimes you get a few objections….but hang in there and you will find the right person. 

Then submit your stories here

Changing subject a little, I didn’t get any takers to meet up and use my $100 game card at the ESPN Zone.  They were not very flexible in letting me use the credit for anything else (like food at their restaurant, etc) so I gave my card to some school kids there on a class trip.  They were ecstatic. 

I wish I had captured Doña Myriam smiling in this picture, but she had her serious artist look going on (Photo: Reed)

 

Today I have a beautiful story to share with you.  While I was in Manizales, I spent a good amount of time at the Rafael Pombo Foundation.  One day there was an adult art class taking place.  I was taking some photos of them painting when the work of 85-year-old Doña Myriam caught my eye.  We started to talk and I knew I had found my recipient for the day! 

Doña Myriam gave me so much energy.  She has so much passion to learn new things and live an active life.  She has taken up painting and if you take a look at the video, you will see that she is quite talented.  

She raised 10 children.  Sadly her one son, an electrician, has passed away.  I think back to the recent death of my cousin Ricky and how hard it was on my aunt.  My heart always goes out to parents who lose a child.  There is just nothing that prepares us for that.  She also lost her husband who died in 1976.  

Our conversation turned to happier times, like her childhood.  She shares that at 12-years-old she wanted to join the communist party.  By 15 she had changed her mind.  But this interest in politics and government led her to want to pursue a career in law.  “But times were different then.  My father forbid me to go study at the university.”  Well, she is making up for lost time now as she follows her passions. 

Photo: Reed

 

I asked her how she planned to use her 20,000 pesos.  There was an electricity in her voice when she answered me.  She smiled and placed her hand on top of mine and said, “I am going to buy some more painting supplies so that I can do more painting!”  She has been making paintings for each of her children.  Maybe with the additional funds she can start making paintings for all those grandchildren! 

This woman had something special.  She warmed my heart and I was sad when I left.  It was like I was saying goodbye to my own grandmother.  I gave her a hug and we exchanged phone numbers.  I have uploaded some of the video from our conversation.  It is in Spanish, but even those of you who don’t understand Spanish might enjoy seeing her paint and just watching her expressions.  She’s beautiful.

VERSIÓN ESPAÑOL

Mañana es el gran día.   ¿Has pensado a quien te gustaría darle tus $10?  No lo pienses tanto, sigue tu corazón.  Mi consejo es que les cuentes lo que estás haciendo, explícales rápidamente que significa el “Año del Dar”.  Si no sabes cómo iniciar la conversación, quizá este ejemplo te sirva. 

“Hola.. quería saber si me puedes ayudar en un proyecto personal.  Déjame te explico mi proyecto para que decidas si me quieres ayudar.  Estoy participando en el día mundial del Año del Dar, un día que celebra el dar sin condiciones y el compromiso de la comunidad.  El proyecto es muy simple… yo encuentro a una persona que no conozco y le doy $10 sin ninguna condición. Me encantaría que tú seas la persona que recibe mis $10 el día de hoy. 

Si la persona te dice que sí, ahora puedes hacer más preguntas y aprender más sobre él/ella.  Si no está seguro, explícale que si dice que no, simplemente tendrás que ir a buscar a otra persona.  Si dice que no vale los $10, dile que no se los tiene que quedar, que puede hacer lo que quiera con el dinero.  Si dice que prefiere que tú se lo des a otra persona que lo necesite, recuérdale que él también puede hacerlo.  Algunas veces recibes algunos rechazos… pero sigue intentando para que encuentres a la persona correcta. 

Después, comparte con nosotros tus historias aquí! 

Cambiando de tema, no pude encontrar a nadie para reunirnos y usar mi tarjeta con $100 para jugar en la Zona de ESPN.  La gente de ESPN no fue muy flexible y no pude usar el dinero como crédito para otro gasto (como comida en el restaurante, etc).  Acabé dando la tarjeta a unos niños que estaban de paseo con su clase de la escuela.  Los niños quedaron encantados. 

La profesora de la clase de arte (Photo: Reed)

Hoy tengo una historia muy linda para compartir.  Ahora que estuve de visita en Manizales, pase un buen tiempo con la Fundación Rafael Pombo.  En una de mis visitas, tuve la oportunidad de entrar a tomar fotos en la clase de arte para adultos.  Estaba tomando fotos de los alumnos y de sus pinturas cuando de repente encontré el trabajo de Doña Myriam, una señora de 85 años.  Comenzamos a platicar y supe que había encontrado a la persona que le daría los 20,000 pesos de ese día.  

Doña Myriam me dio mucha energía.  Ella tiene muchas ganas – y mucha pasión – de aprender cosas nuevas y vivir una vida activa.  Ahora está tomando clases de pintura y si ves el video, veras que tiene talento.  

Doña Myriam crió diez niños.  Desafortunadamente, un hijo hombre, un electricista, murió.  Esto me hizo pensar en la muerte reciente de mi primo Ricky y lo difícil que fue para mi tía.  Mi compasión siempre va para los padres que han perdido un hijo.  No existe nada que lo prepare a uno para eso.  Doña Myriam también perdió a su esposo que murió en 1976. 

Nuestra conversación cambio y comenzamos a hablar de los buenos tiempos, como su niñez.  Me comentó que a los 12 años, quiso unirse al partido comunista.  A los 15 ya había cambiado de parecer, pero siguió teniendo mucho interés en temas políticos y de gobierno por lo que decidió estudiar la carrera de derecho. “Pero los tiempos eran diferentes, mi padre me prohibió ir a la universidad.”  Ahora trata de recuperar el tiempo perdido y de seguir sus pasiones. 

Photo: Reed

Le pregunté cómo planeaba utilizar sus 20,000 pesos.  Hubo electricidad en su voz cuando me contestó.  Sonrió y  puso su mano sobre la mía y me dijo, “Voy a comprar más provisiones de pintura para poder pintar más!”  Ella ha estado pintando cuadros para cada uno de sus hijos.  Quizá, con las nuevas provisiones de pintura, Doña Myriam podrá comenzar a hacer pinturas para cada uno de sus nietos! 

Esta mujer tiene algo especial.  Me sentí  triste cuando me fui.  Fue como si le dijera adiós a mi propia abuela.  Le di un abrazo e intercambiamos números de teléfono.  Subí un video en español de nuestra conversación.  Es muy linda. 

Este blog fue traducido generosamente por Carla Tena en Washington, DC.

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It looks like there is a glitch with the website today.  Instead of my usually banner of the open hand that is at the top, I have a nice picture of a foot bridge and some trees.  Not sure why that is happening.  Is anyone else seeing the footbridge picture instead of my normal banner? 

For those of you who will be participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving and sharing your stories with the world, you need to post them here.  If you have photos and video to share, you will need to do one of two things.  Either upload those on the Facebook page or write the stories here and put links to the photos/videos on a 3rd party website (such as YouTube or Flickr).  Sorry to do it this way, but there are some technical challenges that prevent uploading the pictures and videos straight into this website. 

I am so excited to hear about your giving experiences!  If you have some questions, check out the comments here that should help answer any questions you might have. 

So this morning I have an interview with DeLuca and the morning team at Q92, a Canton, OH based radio station.  I have spoken to them before and had a good time with those guys.   Later in the day I am talking with Tim Day of KG Country 99.5, a radio station in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.  I spoke with Tim about a month or so ago and he wanted to check in and see how things were going.  

Then I was thinking about going over to the ESPN Zone tonight.  I heard that they are closing tomorrow for good!  I have some game cards with like $100.  Although there is no mention of them closing on their website, I did hear it on two different news programs.  Anyway, I don’t think they are going to refund me the balance on the cards, so they need to get used.  If anyone wants to meet up tonight and help me use the rest of the credits on my card, let me know! 

Today’s entry is a very special one.  While I was in Manizales, I met with the Secretary of Education for Manizales, Dr. María Constanza Montoya Naranjo.  She is a wonderful woman who is working hard to deliver the best education possible for the students in Manizales.  One day we were talking about the Year of Giving and she suggested I give my $10 to the Mayor, Juan Manuel Llano Uribe.  I had seen him on Friday at the event with US Ambassador William Brownfield.  Anyway, she said she would give him a call and try to arrange something.  Well what do you know?  She arranged a meeting the next day! 

Mayor Juan Manuel Llano Uribe

 

I get invited into a large conference room to wait for the Mayor.  Already seated are four students and two teachers from a local school that had recently returned from a science fair in Dallas, TX.  These students had built some robots that are prototypes for larger scale versions that would be used to help in the coffee production process and they were there to demonstrate their ingenuity to the Mayor.   

Well, how the hell am I going to follow that act? 

Anyway, the school children leave and I get a few minutes with the Mayor.  He invites me to walk over to an adjacent room which turns out to be his office.  It’s spacious with very nice views of Manizales.  There are a couple of comfortable chairs arranged around a coffee table on one end.  He disappears for a moment and then returns.  We chat for a little while and I try to do my best to explain the Year of Giving.  I am not sure what he thought of it, but he agreed to talk with me. 

He spoke about the growth and globalization of Manizales and the expected increase of tourism to the city.  “What should a tourist be sure to see or do while they are here?” I asked.  He said that one should definitely try to see the eight different shades of green that Manizales has.  He was referring to the vast natural beauty and the stunning variety of greenery that exists there.  I was certainly doing that by staying on Roberto Gonzalo’s plantation.  He also mentioned that I should visit Nevado del Ruiz, a snow-covered volcanic peak that has been active in recent history.  The current cone was formed about 150 years ago.  Atop the mountain is a massive glacier.  The Mayor says that this is the only peak of its kind that is accessible by car.  That is impressive, not to mention that it’s at 5,135 meters, that’s more than 16,000 feet!  Well, I didn’t make it there unfortunately, but next time! 

He stressed his commitment to making Manizales a bilingual community and that they were strongly behind the educational transformation that is needed to make this shift.  There are two critical investment areas for this to be a success according to the Mayor: technology and human capital.  “It’s sowing the seeds for the future,” he said.   Here the Mayor speaks about his vision for Manizales (in Spanish). 

When the Mayor is not hard at work on the future of Manizales, he says that he enjoys playing golf and riding motorcycles.  I wonder if he has taken his bike up to Nevado del Ruiz.  That would be pretty spectacular! 

So what do you think the Mayor is going to do with the $10…or 20,000 pesos in this case?  That was what was on my mind throughout the entire conversation.  I circled back to the 20,000 peso note that sat in front of him and asked what he planned to do with it.  I got an answer that I have never heard before.  “I’m going to take your 20,000 pesos and give you 100,000 a year from now.”  I am not sure exactly how he plans to do this and I didn’t ask.  I just let it be.  

Mr. Mayor…I look forward to seeing you next June!

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Just two days until the Worldwide Day of Giving

If anyone is located in an area affected by the oil spill or knows someone who is, please drop me a note.

Today’s recipient has a very special treat for you so I hope that you have a way to watch the videos that are posted on here.

Giovanni at work at the Batuta Foundation (Photo: Reed)

While I was in Manizales, I met Giovanni, a 31-year-old talented musician.  Although born in the nation’s capital of Bogotá, he originally came to Manizales to play the bass for the city’s orchestra.  He continues to perform in Manizales and cities throughout the region in addition to teaching music at the renown Batuta National Institute; a national system of youth orchestras that aims to foster social development through music.

He says he really likes life in Manizales.  I got a rather first hand view of his life as I was Giovanni’s neighbor for the 12 days I spent in Manizales.  He was living in the area of Guacas where Roberto Gonzalo lives and has his coffee plantation.  To go to work, he regularly makes the exhausting 30 minute walk up the mountain to grab a bus that goes down into the city.  It’s at least an hour or more to get into the city.  I know that because I did that several times while I was there!  

Giovanni invited me into his home.  It’s simply decorated with the essentials.  I can not help but notice the large bass leaning against the wall.  I was hoping he would play it for me.

We speak a mixture of Spanish and English.  He is very comfortable talking to me and even starts to prepare some dinner.  Dressed in a t-shirt, pants, flip-flops, he moves around his kitchen.  I asked him what he was cooking.  “I am kind of inventing right now.” I tend to do the same thing.

Before I know it he had made some coffee and served me a cup.

This is what was on Giovanni's music stand (Photo:Reed)

He says that he personally likes jazz, symphonies, and chamber music.  With a music degree from the Technological University of Pereira, he has a solid appreciation of many music genres.  If Pereira sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because that is the airport where I arrived.  Giovanni added that it is also where his parents live. 

Since I have been here during the election period, I also asked Giovanni who he felt would be the best leader to continue Colombia’s positive development that it has experienced over the past several years.  He gave me that slightly uncomfortable look that many people do when you move the conversation to political views.  He says that he has the most faith in Antanas Mockus from the Green Party.  “But I think Juan Manuel will win,” he says referring to Juan Manuel Santos who leads the poles.  

Like Viviana from Day 164, he opted to receive $10 instead of 20,000 pesos and also said he planned to keep the money as a memory of this experience.  That is touching that he would want to keep it to remember our meeting.

I asked Giovanni if he would play for me and he obliged.  Take a listen to this.  It’s beautiful.

Giovanni had some questions for me as well.  When I told him that I grew up in Pennsylvania, he told me that he had been there and that he travelled there regularly to perform.  His grin told me something was not as it appeared though as he divulged that he was referring to Pensilvania, another city in the state of Caldas.  Somehow I think that William Penn had no idea that years later there would be a city in Colombia that would share the name of the US state that was named after the colonial leader.

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