Sandy is a childhood development specialist and the Director of the Spanish speaking branch of Blossom and Berry. Her passion for baby massage and methods of implementing nurturing touch has29 January 2024Read More
Helping children of the Colombian diaspora in London to reconnect with their roots, understand their origins, and create long-lasting bonds with their community.
As January draws to a close, so does the first cycle of our recently launched project ‘Colombia Colores’.
‘Colombia Colores’ emerged from the desire expressed by the Colombian community in London for regular workshops to be held for their children, to allow them to embrace their cultural heritage through various aspects of Colombian culture, including art, music, food, language, and dance. These free-to-attend sessions will take place over the span of the 2023-2024 academic year, split into three cycles, and are sponsored by City Bridge Trust and in partnership with the Colombian Consulate in London.
Read more about the context behind the project.
The first cycle of the project started at the beginning of November 2023, with 40 children aged 5-12 years, attending the free workshops at St. Jude’s Community Center in Elephant and Castle.
The singer-songwriter María Mónica Gutiérrez, also known as Montañera, is the Pedagogical Coordinator of the project. This cycle’s focus was Colombian arts, which she advocates as an engaging and interactive way to spark the kids’ interest in Colombian culture:
“It’s been great to see how the children have become more curious about Colombia throughout these sessions, you can see their enthusiasm to learn something new about the country each week. I’ve also seen how they have built friendships with each other and how they’ve become more comfortable speaking Spanish. They’ve been very receptive to the activities – they love to move, draw and sing”.
Throughout the 12-week programme, the children participated in classes on Colombian music, instruments, literature, dance and art. By singing María’s song “Solecito”, and drawing their favourite aspects of it, the kids discovered places like the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Colombia’s Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The dancer Xihomara Granados-Zentner from the group ‘Yuruparí’ and the fashion designer Jennifer Droguett of ‘Anciela’, were also invited to lead workshops on Bambuco and collage making.
The kids also learnt the Muisca myth of creation, which allowed them to expand their knowledge of indigenous mythology and the Andean region. Through studying this story, the group were able to learn new Spanish words such as: Muiscas, Chibchas, Bachué, laguna, sierra, páramo, pescador, and Currulao, among many others.
Leading up to Christmas, the focus shifted to the Pacific region. The kids created and painted their own “guasas” (a rhythmic instrument used in Currulao music), and sang and danced to the Currulao version of the iconic Christmas carol “Mi burrito sabanero” with our guest Gregorio Merchán.
It has been extremely rewarding to see the kids develop throughout the cycle. As early as the second Saturday they had overcome their shyness and begun to engage in conversations with their peers in both Spanish and English.
However, the kids are not the only ones who benefit from the programme – families are welcome to gather and share this wonderful space to bond with their community, and we thank all the parents who arrived with their children every Saturday with warmth and enthusiasm!
The next cycle of ‘Colombia Colores’ will begin on Saturday 24th of February in a new venue in Seven Sisters. The theme will be Colombian nature and biodiversity, and the workshops will teach children about the geography of Colombia and its vast biodiversity of flora and fauna. The classes are free to attend and all materials will be provided. If you would like to register your child, please fill out this form:
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact our Logistics and Outreach Coordinator, Yvonne Velásquez.