It’s Colombia not Columbia
December 15th, 2017. Nora Dooley writes about delivering ASK for Choice programs in Colombia with Community Partner Inder Alcaldía de Medellín, alongside Corporate Partners Nike, Postobón, GIZ, and Groupo Internacional de Paz, to close out a strong year working across the country for the rights of women and girls.
I treasure this moment of reflection. Four years after beginning my work with Coaches Across Continents, five years after graduating from Columbia University, I have spent more time in one country than any other: Colombia.
Working with CAC as a facilitator necessitates humility and a unique acceptance of the unknown. With our intention to challenge international NGO culture that designs development programs based on foreign knowledge of best practices (which can also be called white supremacy/ neo-colonialism), we must enter each community assuming and imposing nothing. Our job is to provide some structure through fun, play-based activities that stimulate group discussion, self-directed learning and collective problem-solving, and to support our partners as they create legacies for the social changes they want to see.
As little as I claim to know about this world, I can share some experiences – many of which I have enjoyed in Colombia with a faction of the large government organization, Inder Medellín.
Colombia is complicated. And even knowing more people and more facts about this country than most others, my U.S.-raised brain cannot imagine the depths of this complexity. I feel so fortunate, therefore, to have various and continuous opportunities to share time and space with Colombians invested in their community’s future.
Our work in Colombia throughout 2017 was bolstered by the social responsibility efforts of Nike and Postobón. This programming, centered on our ASK for Choice program which uses play to develop Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge to inform choices for women, men, and communities, caught some welcome attention. We spent a week north of Bogotá sharing with the GIZ sponsored program in collaboration with CAC partner, Grupo Internacional de Paz, and then returned to Medellín to learn more alongside humans I am lucky to call friends at Inder.
During this training with representatives from Inder’s ‘Deporte, Convivencia y Paz’ and ‘Cultura D’ teams, we focused on gender, problem-solving, game adaptation and creation, challenging and transforming the cultures we want to change, and the vast possibilities available inside the lines of the sports field to address all that lives beyond it.
I feel so grateful for CAC’s strong partnership with Inder, for my Paisa family, and for the experience (and wisdom?) to know – at least in my life – that it most definitely is Colombia, not Columbia.
Somos Niñas Sin Miedo – We Are Girls Without Fear
June 8th 2017. ASK for Choice Strategist, Nora Dooley, shares thoughts about the 2nd On-Field training in collaboration with Postobón and Nike in Bogotá, Colombia.
Is it natural to fear? Do evolving human beings carry traces of antiquated phobias? Are evolutionary fears related to learned fears? Fears that we adopt because of all the interconnected strings pulling at our lives from the moment we are born – fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of other… Social and cultural fears being the more present and immediate evolutions, adding tension to our human experiences with their restrictions, walls, and immobilizing forces.
I am a woman with fears (spiders and death to name a few)… but I think there is a difference, albeit blurry, between learning with and owning your fears, and being taught to fear by your environment. I was (and still am) lucky to have been nurtured in a space where fear was offered recognition but never deference. And that, I believe, is exactly what Niñas sin Miedo is doing in the hills of Soacha, Colombia.
Let me please tell you – these girls are powerful. From their booming voices answering open-ended and complicated questions about gender in Colombian society, to their passion for play and commitment to the beautiful communities of Los Pinos and Bella Vista. These are areas few might label as ‘rich’ but having been there myself, having worked with and learned from the Niñas as well as several other leaders from organizations around Soacha, I can vouch for the seemingly endless riches at play here.
At a time in Colombia – and in the world – where working through our fears, engaging in dialogues with people from different backgrounds, asking ourselves difficult, uncomfortable questions, challenging our accepted beliefs about our lives and our worlds, it feels timely, essential, and poetic that this group of human beings was brought together. And especially for the girls, the women, and any human that has ever felt marginalized or discriminated by a society that learned to fear uncertainty or ‘other’.
I once again feel so honored to have shared space and time, and to have collectively raised consciousness with a group of inspiring leaders in Colombia. Thanks to our ongoing alliance with Postobón, Nike Colombia, and our impressive local implementing partners like Niñas sin Miedo, we’ve been gifted opportunities to laugh, dance, play and dig deep into what gender equality looks like, and what we are going to do, personally and collectively, to arrive at a more equal future.
When people unite energies, particularly people from a variety of perspectives, histories, environments, sports, and all the intricate factors that make us who we are, I passionately believe this is when the magic of creation is unleashed. I also believe, together with a diverse group of individuals and organizations from across Bogotá, Colombia for a week in May 2017, that we harnessed that magic and created something that will transcend borders, walls, harmful cultures, and, yes, fear.
These Niñas sin Miedo have inspired me to live beyond my fears – and I am so excited to hear their voices echoing around the world.
El 8 de Junio, 2017. Nora Dooley de CAC y ‘ASK for Choice’ comparte su experiencia sobre la segunda capacitación de la alianza con Postobón y Nike en Bogotá, Colombia.
¿Es natural para tener miedo? ¿Los seres humanos llevan vestigios de fobias anticuadas? Miedos que adoptamos por todas las cuerdas interconectadas desde el momento en que nacemos – el miedo de fracasar, el miedo de lo desconocido, el miedo del otro… Los miedos sociales y culturales siendo las formas más presentes y inmediatas de evolución, añadiendo tensión a nuestras experiencias humanas con sus límites, paredes, y fuerzas de inmovilización.
Soy una mujer con miedos (las arañas y la muerte para nombrar algunos)… pero creo que hay una diferencia, aunque borrosa, entre aprender y reconocer sus miedos, y ser enseñad@ a tener miedo por su ambiente. Yo tenía (y todavía tengo) mucha suerte para ser criada en un espacio donde el miedo era ofrecido reconocimiento pero nunca deferencia. Y eso, yo creo, es exactamente lo que Niñas sin Miedo está haciendo en las comunas de Soacha, Colombia.
Déjame decir por favor – estas niñas son poderosas. De sus voces resonantes contestando preguntas abiertas y complicadas sobre genero en la sociedad colombiana, a su pasión para jugar y su compromiso a las comunidades bonitas de Los Pinos y Bella Vista. Quizá poca gente se puede decir que estas áreas son ‘ricas’, pero de mi punto de vista, habiendo aprendido y trabajado con las Niñas y otros líderes de organizaciones alrededor Soacha, yo puedo asegurar que hay muchisimas riquezas en efecto allí.
En un momento en Colombia – igual en el mundo – cuando trabajando por nuestros miedos, abordando en diálogos con gente de perspectivas distintas, haciéndonos preguntas difíciles y incómodas, desafiando nuestras creencias aceptadas sobre nuestras vidas y mundos… parece oportuno, esencial y poético que este grupo de humanos se reunió. Y especialmente para las niñas, las mujeres, y cualquier humano que se ha sentido marginad@ o discriminad@ por una sociedad que aprendió a tener miedo de incertidumbre.
Me siento otra vez tan honrada para compartir espacio y tiempo, y para elevar colectivamente la conciencia con un grupo de líderes tan inspiradores en Colombia. Gracias a nuestra alianza con Postobón, Nike Colombia, y nuestros aliados locales como Niñas sin Miedo, se nos ha regalado oportunidades a reír, bailar, jugar, y profundizar qué significa ‘igualdad de genero’ y qué vamos a hacer, personalmente y colectivamente, para llegar a un futuro más justo.
Cuando las personas unen energías, particularmente personas de diferentes historias, ambientes, deportes, y todos los factores que contribuyen a nosotr@s mism@s, yo creo – apasionadamente – que esto es cuando la magia de creación está soltada. También creo que junt@s con este grupo de individuos y organizaciones diversas de todo Bogotá durante una semana en Mayo 2017, que aprovechamos esa magia y creamos algo que puede trascender fronteras, paredes, culturas dañosas, y sí, el miedo.
Estas Niñas sin Miedo me han inspirado a vivir más allá de mis miedos – y me siento tan emocionada para escuchar a sus voces resonando alrededor del mundo.
CAC on Beyond Sport Awards Shortlist
May 22nd 2017. We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted in the Global Impact of the Year Award category at the 2017 Beyond Sport awards! We are joining a prestigious list of nominees in this category which includes Women Win and Skateistan. As a global organization Coaches Across Continents is honored to be recognized in this way by Beyond Sport. In 2017 we have partnerships on six continents with a wide range of organizations, corporations, governments and communities who use sport to educate young people. Two of our partners, YFC Rurka Kalan in Punjab, India and Grupo Internacional de Paz in Colombia, are also shortlisted for the awards so we wish them congratulations.
This is the 5th time CAC has been shortlisted at a Beyond Sport awards. Of these nominations we have previously had two wins; ‘Best New Project‘ for the Hat-Trick Initiative in 2009 and ‘Corporate of the Year‘ for our partnership with Chevrolet in 2014. In 2015 we were also shortlisted for the UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport award.
We would like to thank Beyond Sport for the recognition and all of our partners, Community Impact Coaches, Global Citizens, advisory board, program participants and supporters for their ongoing support. Our success is your success! The 2017 Beyond Sport awards take place in New York from July 25th-27th. We are looking forward to attending and hope to see you there. For the full shortlist please go to this link.
Experiencia con CAC
April 26, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Lina Restrepo, shares thoughts about the first On-Field training of our Nike and Postobón partnership in Bogotá, Colombia – this one with Colombianitos in Ciudad Bolívar. Lina has participated in CAC programs for several years as part of our partnership with Inder Medellín.
En ciudad bolívar se resaltan frecuentemente historias de violencias a través de los medios, vías de comunicación que reproducen constantemente mensajes cargados de estereotipos con adolescentes, delincuentes, abuso de sustancias, hurtos, discapacidad cognitiva, entre otros; y compartir con personas de Bogotá, Francia, Inglaterra, estados unidos y Medellín en este lugar, me hace vivenciar diversidad cultural, componente necesario para la reconstrucción del tejido social en Colombia y en diferentes lugares del mundo con una situación similar.
En algunos momentos llega la pregunta ¿Qué tiene Colombia, que se hace invisible para los colombianos y tan llamativo para los extranjeros? En esta primera experiencia en un hostal, compartí el cuarto con una persona que venía desde Holanda a trabajar como voluntaria por tres meses para estudiar las aguas del Lago Tota, el cual mencionaba como un recurso fundamental del ecosistema no sólo para Colombia sino para el planeta entero.
Este es un ejemplo del interés en el territorio colombiano de personas de otros lugares que reconocen en nosotros cualidades y potencialidades que por momentos dejamos de ver y vienen a recordárnoslo.
Dentro de las personas participantes al entrenamiento resalto los entrenadores (con experiencia en el fútbol profesional colombiano) y deportistas (jóvenes y adultos, líderes de cambio de diferentes fundaciones en Colombia, que hacen uso del deporte y la recreación como herramienta de transformación social.
Una de las preguntas que movilizó a la imaginación y la creatividad dentro del grupo de líderes, ¿Es posible jugar un partido de fútbol sin balón? En especial para los entrenadores que a veces se quedan en metodologías tradicionales. (95% Fútbol 😊)
Agradezco a CAC los espacios de Juegos y Diálogos alrededor de conceptos de equidad, igualdad, género, cultura, fenómenos, violencias, problemas, problemáticas entre otros. Se amplía pues, la caja de herramientas al recibir los currículos de CAC y ASK for choice con una variedad de juegos por compartir.
Experience with CAC – Bogota, Colombia 2017
In Ciudad Bolívar stories of violence frequently emerge through the media, manners of communication that constantly reproduce messages charged with stereotypes about adolescents, delincuants, substance abuse, theft, mental disability, among others; and to share with people in Bogotá, France, England, USA, and Medellín in this place, allows me to experience cultural diversity, a necessary component for the reconstruction of the social fabric in Colombia and in different places in the world with a similar situation.
In some moments the question arrives: What is it about Colombia that makes it invisible to Colombians and so attractive to foreigners? In this first experience in a hostel, I shared the room with a person who came from Holland to work as a volunteer for three months to study the waters of Lake Tota, that which was mentioned as a fundamental resource of the ecosystem not only for Colombia but for the entire planet.
This is an example of the interest in the Colombian territory of people from other places that recognize in us qualities and potential that we, at times, stop seeing and they come to remind us.
Among the participating people in the training were coaches (with experience in Colombian professional football) and sports people (youth and adults); leaders of change from different foundations in Colombia that make use of sport and recreation as a tool for social transformation.
One of the questions that mobilized the imagination and creativity within the group of leaders was: “Is it possible to play a game of football without a ball?” Especially for the coaches that sometimes rely on traditional methodologies. (In reference to CAC’s 95% Football)
I am grateful to CAC for the spaces of games and dialogue around concepts of equity, equality, gender, culture, phenomenons, violence, problems, and issues, among others. The toolbox expands upon receiving the CAC and ASK for Choice curricula with the variety of games to share.
Every CAC Week Is Different
June 7th 2016. Cameron Hardington writes about his 2nd time volunteering with CAC in Colombia with Colombianitos.
I arrived in Colombia for my second time volunteering with Coaches Across Continents feeling much more confident than I did for my first stint in Africa. I’ve been through the program and am aware of what to expect, and also know how CAC operates on the field. What I was quickly reminded of, however, was that each experience with this organization is a unique one. This is not just because I’m in a different country or culture than my previous time, but that each community we work with has their own needs and interests. Rather than having a rigid structure of what to do each week, CAC adapts to the needs expressed by each community which makes for a more dynamic coaching and learning experience. It’s one reason why I enjoy volunteering so much.
This past week, unsurprisingly, brought new challenges to overcome in regards to scheduling and organization. We scheduled a program with Colombianitos in Barbosa. They were less familiar with our work than previous programs. This to me was an advantage as we got to teach a wide range of our games to show what CAC does.
The group we worked with was small but they were all passionate and eager to learn. One game that I particularly enjoyed coaching was a game called Earth, Wind, and Water. It’s a simple game of football with three goals, but when a team scores a goal, it gets taken away. The game is meant to show how pollution (the ball) can pollute your resources, and once you lose your resources, they are gone for good. The group was very receptive and this game, and one coach named Cesar particularly enjoyed it and used it to coach to his kids on Friday.
It was a joy to see these coaches willing to incorporate some of the games that we taught them so quickly, and hopefully we will get the chance to work with them again next year in greater depth. For me this week was also a perfect example of how there is rarely a similar week with CAC.
It’s refreshing for me to experience that, and it’s why I came back.
Shared Enjoyment of the Human Experience
CAC volunteer Bobby Zolper writes about hospitality in Manizales, Colombia with Colombianitos.
May 27th 2016. As a first time volunteer with CAC I have found the connections made between ourselves and the people of the partner programs to be profound and quickly formed. On-Field connections with participants transcend the language barrier through the universal language of football. Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or social status, people all over the world can relate to a shared love for the beautiful game. This is a phenomenon I have experienced before and was happy to experience once again in Manizales, Colombia. Although I expected to bond with the members of Colombianitos, the organization we worked with in Manizales, I never expected equal connections to carry over to the host family, whom we would stay with for only a week.
Our team, consisting of myself, two other volunteers (Cameron and Taylor), a Community Impact Coach from Peru (Pedro), and two full-time CAC staff members (Markus and Ruben), was lodged in a flat directly above our host family. Below us lived Jimena, her husband, a taxi driver named Miguel and her two sons Rafael and Nicolas. We spent most of our down time with the family finding out about each others life in a different country as effectively as our language abilities allowed us to. Most of these questions provided little insight into the lives of one another but rather gave a sense of each others personality and made for enjoyable and incredibly funny conversations. The strongest bond I formed within their family was with 10 year old Nico. Nico shared the same love for the computer game FIFA as I do and, considering my Spanish ability, was the person I was able to communicate best with! Nico loved to play football and was quite the player too. He also emulated his idol, Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. Nico was quick to extend an invitation to play with him and I enjoyed his company as much as he did ours.
After a week with the family, we departed for Medellin. Shortly thereafter, we received a phone call from Jimena who had come home to her son crying from missing us being there. This was a touching thing for us to hear and I had not realized how much we had meant to Nico. We had left him with t-shirts from our respective universities and he had left us with a lesson to learn from. If the world was filled with people as genuine and as willing to accept a stranger as a friend as Nico was, we would all live in a much better place. If all people were to connect based upon the shared enjoyment of the human experience the same way we connect over the love of football, CAC would have a lot less work to do! The members of our team thank Jimena and her family for the incredible hospitality and I hope they know they will never be forgotten.