DukeEngage Medellín
La Violencia is Not the Whole Story

Nos vemos, Medellin.

I will miss you, Medellin. Here is the last bitacora:

I can see Medellin from afar.
A thousand little lights in the mountains
Where we bathed in a valley of stars,
each one housing a universe of its own
And sailed in a reverse sky
The clear blue ocean up above,
And heaven on earth below.

Medellin, I can hear you.
Your exhaust pipes, your salsa, your fruit man on the street
are telling stories
So many stories.
One for every star in the sky.
But you must listen carefully to the paisa tongue.
It carries with it the weight of the past.
But Medellin does not let it pull it down.

Medellin surrounds you.
It hugs you, kisses you.
It draws you into its home and feeds you, nourishes you.
You are not a stranger here.
Tonight, I leave Medellin
But Medellin will never really let me go.

Medellin, goodbye to you.
Your every waking moment is inhaling and exhaling
While the rest of the world is still asleep
Dreaming of what it would be like
To spend a night in your arms.

"When I went to get my manicure this morning, I was pleased to see the same lady who had cut my bangs two weeks ago. After 45 minutes and dark purple nails, I told her I was leaving Medellín tomorrow at 5 am. She told me that I have to return, and that when I do it won’t cost me anything because I can stay with her. I think this is one of the best examples of the hospitality and warmth of the people here – and one of the things I am going to miss the most. I can’t believe we’ve been here almost 2 months; I still remember being on the plane to Medellín, wondering what everything was going to be like. The friends and family I have made here – compañeros, Doña Clara, and Doña Luz Elena – are going to be in my heart forever. I hope one day I will be able to return to Medellín, and fall in love with the city and its people all over again."


Two months just isn’t enough. I want to window shop at El Tesoro. I want to carefully make my way around El Hueco. I want to go to all of the ‘Parques’ over and over again (Berrio, Bolivar, Explora, and Pies Descalzos). I want to eat at the restaurant at Jardin Botanico. I want to club-hop in Parque Lleras. But most of all I want to sit at FruttiJhons for hours on end. At the Tienda del MAMM, Tiendecita, Brasillera, ‘Cake Place’, and the ‘New Place’. When I was first accepted to the ‘DukeEngage Medellin’ program, I e-mailed Garrett to see how he had felt about his experience here the year before. He e-mailed me back saying that it was one of the greatest times of his life, and that he desperately wanted to come back. I now know exactly how he feels. I can’t wait to come back, to relax by the pipes in Carlos E., to eat at the one decent Chinese place at Pies Descalzos. To take the MetroCable up to Pajarito and see how things have changed. I could stay another two months or six without question. My Colombia experience has been one of the most refreshing and exhilarating times of my life. We had an entire city to explore and embrace. All of the compañeros and homestay families just made our time here that much more authentic. I won’t forget them, or Jake, or Mateo, or Hernando, or any of the ordinary people we were fortunate enough to meet during our work. I know that if I have the opportunity to come back, it won’t be the same, it won’t be like it was. But damn, it was a good time. I guess that’s all you can ask for."


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Funded by generous grants from Duke University and donations from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DukeEngage has made it possible for us, a group of six Duke students, to embark on a 7-week civic engagement project, The Historical Memory/Community Literacy Project, in Medellin, Colombia. Our team also includes 57 students from Emerson College in Boston who created a multi-media catalog & a short film "108 things you might not know about medellín".

In collaboration with our directors, Dr. Tamera Marko of Emerson College and Jota Samper of MIT, we are producing 7 short documentaries about various communities in Medellin. We want you know to know that in Medellin, a city in the process of peace, la violencia is not the whole story.

Emerson College Medellin
DukeEngage Colombia 08
Parques Bibliotecas
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Carlos E. Restrepo
Pajarito Vivienda


Tamera Marko, Ph.D.

Jota Samper