From Quibdó to Paris: An artistic and cultural exchange programme tackling prejudice and discrimination

A group of children and young people who attend our project with Círculo de Estudios in Quibdó travelled to Paris in an intercultural exchange programme. They travelled there to do a joint-performance ‘El Bunde del Agua’ or ‘The Bunde of Water’, a work of art comprising of music, dance and theatre, showcasing their culture and talents. The idea of the trip was to break down barriers of prejudice, discrimination and racism, and to achieve respect for diversity. For this reason, Círculo de Estudios has been predominantly working in the Afro-Colombian region of Quibdó.

The performance, ‘El Bunde del Agua’, aimed to facilitate understanding, empathy and inter-cultural communication between the groups of adolescents from Quibdó and Nanterre (Paris). It drew upon their common experience of having water characterise their everyday lives, as both Quibdó and Nanterre are situated by a river. The water acted as a symbol of their daily lives, their dreams, thoughts and emotions, as well as the joys and terrors of their neighbourhood. The protagonists were not portrayed as victims, but human beings with talents and skills who are seeking alternative paths to violence, ones which promote a healthy and peaceful co-existence.

The exchange was a life-changing opportunity for these young Colombians, who are primarily from vulnerable and under-resourced communities. They had undergone 4 years of psychosocial support, as well as dance, art and theatre workshops helping them to learn about their human rights, cultural heritage and how to protect their communities, so this trip was the culmination and reward at the end of a long journey. This experience of meeting new people and cultures served to open their minds, increase empathy and acceptance of diversity. Similarly, reflecting upon and discussing both their socio-political similarities and differences helped them break down barriers of discrimination. All these skills learnt will contribute to a more tolerant, inclusive and interconnected society. 

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