When in Colombia…

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by Rashid Adetokunbo Okikiola Owoyele, DEED ’12

This has been my first trip out of the US and I am feeling so blessed to have had this opportunity. Though my Spanish is mediocre at best and my knowledge of traveling is most informed by movies and living vicariously through Facebook, I have had a wonderful time.  What I’ve learned working with DEED has altered my perceptions about people and development work, in the best of ways.

They say that you never really know someone else until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I’d adjust that to say that you never really know someone else until you have travelled more than 3,000 miles with them. The little discoveries I have made about my peers have shown me that the classroom is not an environment in which you get to know someone for who they truly are.  In fact, I have also been learning much about my self and my own values. It has been miraculous to be involved with DEED and learn through an experiential pedagogy.

Most of what I’d been lead to believe about Colombia was inaccurate and the assumptions I came to the country with were certainly challenged; much to my benefit. The people are wonderfully welcoming and oddly familiar. Small differences in how people react to our presence here as opposed to how I have felt in my transition from the Midwest to NYC have me reeling with joy. I didn’t think that I believed everything I saw on television and being here has shown me just how wrong my assumptions about how worldly and informed I was were. Also, most of what I’d been lead to believe about my my self was wrong; I’ve been discovering capabilities that I’d underestimated or dismissed – including how adaptable I was.

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