¿Por qué Medellín?

¡Por qué no!

Most have wondered why of all the places in the world, I chose to travel to Medellín, Colombia…

I was first, formally introduced to Medellín while attending a symposium during the spring of 2008 when I studied in Florence, Italy, with Syracuse University’s abroad program. Ever since then I’ve been eager, wanting to learn more about this city; A city looking to shed its recent past/negative history and create a new one, full of progress and hope.

The symposium: The Political Dimension of Architecture, had a lot of noteworthy people…
Elia Zenghelis, Stefano Boeri and Pier Vittorio Aureli, among others.
The one presentation that stood out to me was the one of then Mayor of Medellín, Sergio Fajardo.

Sergio had an impressive, enthusiastic and passionate presentation on the numerous projects enacted during his tenure as Mayor that have helped better the quality of life, expand the opportunities for learning and, what I feel is most important, uplift the feeling of self-worth amongst the citizens of Medellín.

The last part struck accord with me because over the course of my life I’ve understood just how feeling value and pride about one’s home can uplift ones spirit to achieve new, better and unimaginable out of life.

To most of everyone I’ve talked to prior to taking this trip, Medellín is known worldwide for only one thing and period of time; Narcotics and the reign of Pablo Escobar and the Medellín drug cartel.

Although the heydays of the Medellín drug cartel have ceased, people’s memories and opinions are hard to change. There are countless places in this world that get a bad reputation and perception based off of one event in their history. But who are we to judge one place based on one event in history, one event in their life?
A place, just like a person can change, no one thing is ever stagnant. If we are to glean anything from history it should be that nothing last forever and that places change, people change, emotions and viewpoints, laws and agendas eventually change. The only difference between them is the time in which it happens; A place can be different, a place can evolve and move on.

One can only hope that if enough good/positive has come from change that people will begin to look past the former negatives and move on to see its new, brighter future.

Receiving the Martin Roche Scholarship for 2009, is my first step in understanding how Medellín has begun the process of changing people’s perceptions of what the city is and what it can be. My underlying intent with this trip is to also understand better how something like the multifaceted urban revival of Medellín can be replicated in other areas of discord in the Caribbean, South America, and back home in Miami.