Since my first faculty led course to San Andrés Colombia in 2012, I felt I had a personal and professional mission to accomplish: “A bridge” between Oneonta and my native country Colombia. Later, I accompanied my colleague from literature in a beautiful course on Gabriel García Marquez and the same semester was given the Chancellors Award for Internationalization to take a second group to San Andrés and Providence islands. It took me two years to figure out how to initiate the proposal and have people from both ends talking. Today, thanks to COIL, and to people who listened to my ideas on campus, we are in Colombia talking to all kinds of people and institutions. Yesterday we finalized our institutional meetings with “Broche de Oro” (Golden Seal) at the “Puerta de Oro de Colombia” (Golden Gate of Colombia) “Barranquilla”.
We visited our last scheduled university “Universidad del Norte” and were really impressed with their campus, their quality of education and their support of faculty through a teaching for excellence center. “Uninorte” is so prepared to welcome Oneonta students tomorrow; they have a very structured program where our students would adapt easily and engage in student life while learning about this diverse country. We saw an arcade for students, with video games, this room was empty because they are in final exams at the moment, and the 5 level library was packed. We tour the “Mapuka” museum, and an international studies sophomore local student was our bilingual guide. Later the Cooperstown group stayed at the reserves and special applied learning projects with the museum assistant director, and they just amazed themselves with what these instructors do with their students from multiple disciplines. At the campus we ended with a fine lunch in an elegant restaurant called “1966” in reference to the year that the university was founded. This restaurant is their “Faculty Lounge”. Oh, it was just lovely and the meal, exquisite. These people really know how to enjoy professional life down here by the Caribbean. I wish all my colleagues at Oneonta can see this different professional life style based on cooperation, team work, and student centered approached merging critical thinking and philosophical conceptualization through applied learning. “Sí se puede” of course we can.
Today we depart to Santa Marta, on our way there, we will stop at “La quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino” where Simón Bolivar, our liberator, expressed his last wish of a united republic of “The Great Colombia” and Saturday, our last day, we will be visiting the “Tayrona National Park”, known for the best beaches on this Colombian Atlantic coast.
Oneonta, we will be back soon to pass our enthusiasm and invite you to cross this new bridge to the south.