Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sono Colombiana

Last Monday during Italian class we were talking about summer vacations, our teacher was asking where we were going to go -people DO plan ahead their summers, around here everybody goes somewhere during the hottest months (August is the only time of year when you can actually find parking in Milan without having to go round and round for hours.) But I digress... My turn came up and I said that we were going to Colombia to visit our family. My teacher kept on fishing the information out of me: where will we stay? Is Bogota beautiful? What is the weather like? Are there any interesting places to go to? Of course, the little ambassador in me kicked in and I started talking about Bogota and its people, the mountains surrounding it and the incredible change that the city has experienced. I am talking nonstop about the series of mayors that orchestrated this change, the mimes in the streets teaching people about respect for the pedestrian, I am talking about the bicycle routes, the public libraries, the new public transport system. All of this in my broken Italian. I can't stop, mostly because it feels so good to talk to a captive audience, and secondly because I am really passionate about Colombia.
One of my classmates is surprised by what I am saying, she mentions that she only hears about the violence, the kidnappings and the drugs. OK, if I thought I would never be fluent in Italian, now I think otherwise. I was on a roll, I had to tell them all about the guerrillas, the drug dealers, the economic gaps amongst the classes, but most of all I wanted them to know about all the good people living there, working hard, having children, planting trees, believing in the future... I wanted them to know all the positive things about my beloved country.
The class was coming to an end, and as a way to leave my European classmates with a lasting idea about Colombia, I mentioned that many times in the past, Colombians have been listed as some of the happiest people on earth (it really depends on the study or survey, but Colombia ranks from second to eight in different studies.)
When I left the class, I was tired, happy, and a little worried. Did I paint a clear picture of Colombia? Do I still know what to be a Colombian means? Do my words reflect my actual thoughts? Should I bring some books and music next time? Will I get a passing grade at the end of the course?
I am going back to class tomorrow, I might as well bring some pictures with me... just in case.

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