Sara Arellano: Fulbright Winner, Blog Post #2: A Sense of Community in Medellín

Living in Medellín, Colombia is a wonderful experience. In the area I live, and where my friends live, there is a strong sense of community. The employees of the local stores and restaurants know their customers by name, and they greet each other warmly or chat about food, family, and/or politics. The people are very kind, and willing to offer their assistance to help each other. I have made many friends within the community where I live, as well as near the Universidad de Antioquia.

my-new-colombian-family-i-am-in-middle-my-daughter-is-to-rightSara Arellano (middle) with her daughter and new Colombian family

I decided to spend the holidays in Colombia to fully experience the Colombian holiday culture. In Colombia, approximately 80-90% of people are Catholic, which is evident in their Christmas traditions. Emphasis is placed on the Nativity scene. Also, it is the Baby Jesus who brings children gifts, not Santa Claus. Most families make natilla, which is similar to flan. I spent the New Year with one of my Colombian friends and her family. They sprinkle and toss lentil beans at each other to bring prosperity. There were many people in the streets cooking sancocho (a stew) in huge pots over open fire, while music played and some people danced in the street.

don%cc%83a-rosa-y-sancochoDoña Rosa y sanchocho

It is evident that many people are not living in the best socioeconomic situation, and they are acutely aware of the political problems of their country (based on numerous conversations). However, they appear to be enjoying what is most important in life, as I have witnessed the significance that is placed on cultivating ­­their relationships with their families and neighbors. Medellín, Colombia is an excellent location to experience a rich and rewarding cultural exchange, and there are many other beautiful pueblos that are 2-4 hours away by bus and are great to visit as well!

my-friends-fam-i-am-in-red-shirt-smSara Arellano (red shirt) with a friend’s family

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