Once again, the weekend of learning that was generated by the third module of the Peace and Reconciliation course was stimulating and challenging. The thirty participants in the course gathered for two days and the instruction focused on advocacy and participation in processes to bring about social change, particularly as it relates to peace and reconciliation in Colombia. The professors, both lawyers, one with experience working in the area of diplomacy brought so much depth and care to the material they shared with the students. The dialogue was profound as we talked about the many ways that people in Colombia have had their rights violated and the ways the church can come alongside of those who have suffered the results of violence and displacement. The stories the students shared themselves were sobering. We talked about the realities of their lives and communities. Susana and Carlos talked about the difficult realities of working with displaced people, who are living in communities that are not recognized by the government and who suffer because of the lack of access to health care and education. All of the students were invited at the end of the two days to reflect on what they had heard and seen and make a decision regarding their role and how they will be advocates for peace and reconciliation. Students chose different color flags that represented their commitment and action steps.
At the end of one of the day-long sessions, the young adults who are participating in the course stayed into the evening to talk about the ways that they want to move forward with local and national initiatives, focusing on education, advocacy, and community development. Jader, the president of the National Covenant Youth Organization of Colombia, led the discussion and challenged us to reflect on our experiences, skills, education, and the resources that are found in our communities. Many, like Hernando voiced their desire to be a part of putting this learning into action. Pray for this group, who will meet for 2 more classes (August and October) and who will begin to define the project(s) that they will develop.