We are so grateful to be traveling again! Today we would like to share a bit more about a place that is near and dear to our hearts and where we are hosting a very exciting trip this October—Medellín, Colombia. At CAS Trips, we are committed to providing unique and inspiring travel opportunities for students and have worked hard to cultivate meaningful partnerships with local organizations so our travelers can always experience their surroundings through the eyes of the people who know them best. Our program in Medellín is a shining example of this.
Over the last two decades, Medellín has become a popular travel destination and serves as a testament to the power of community engagement and what can happen when people come together to realize change. The bustling city incorporates industry and commerce while thriving in agriculture and creativity. It also boasts several grassroots projects that tell a truly compelling story of transformation.
While in Medellín, students will engage with the volunteer and social impact projects that have regenerated Medellin’s urban landscape before heading into the stunning Rio Claro project to work collaboratively on reforestation and sustainability projects to protect Colombia’s unique and precious environment.
As we look forward to Medellín Spring 2022, let’s take a closer look at what this incredible place offers for young people eager to learn about a new culture and make a difference through their travels.
Witnessing the transformative power of community in Comuna 13
One of the most rewarding partnerships we have built in Medellín is with the inspiring team at Comuna Project. Their work is centered within Comuna 13, a neighborhood that used to be among the most dangerous in the city but has been transformed through community projects and a series of outdoor escalators into one of Medellín’s most colorful communes.
Once a stronghold for drug trafficking organizations and gangs, the government began investing in cleaning up the areas in the early 2000s, redeveloping the brick houses and building community centers. To improve access the government installed a series of outdoor escalators in 2011 that extend for 1,260 feet, connecting parts of the once chaotic and isolated hillside neighborhood to the city below.
The efforts that locals have since invested in building up their community have resulted in a total revitalization. The area surrounding the six sets of escalators is now covered with murals and street art. Many murals tell the story of Comuna 13 and depict local heroes who have helped bring this vibrant community back to life.
Our partners in Medellín: Comuna Project
Committed to making quality education accessible to everyone, Comuna Project hosts a variety of educational tourism and skill-building workshops throughout Comuna 13. The Comuna Project describes their mission as follows:
“For us to speak of Comuna 13, or simply La 13, is to speak of a piece of our soul. Anyone who sits down to listen to the stories of its inhabitants leaves with deep respect and admiration for the greatness of the resistance of those who live here. Resisting in marginalized and complex environments, unique expressions emerged that are worthy of praise and forever engraved in history.”
Demonstrating their admiration for the residents that make Comuna 13 so unique, the educational programs run by Comuna Project are directed by participants and intended to educate children in the area in themes and subjects that they feel are important. At the moment, the focus is on IT and English. The participants work online with SDG 4, Quality Education, to bring free valuable learning resources to the area. They also run educational tours of Comuna 13.
The students who participate in our Medellín Spring will have the opportunity to contribute to The Comuna Project’s effort directly. Reflections from past participants have included powerful observations on the potential of community, enriched hope for the future, and how meaningful it was to have the chance to build one-on-one connections that will inspire their Service Learning efforts going forward.
Tapping into creativity and self-expression
Throughout our programming in Medellín, we emphasize the role that art and creativity played in revitalizing the city while serving as a vehicle for creative and political expression. Students are encouraged to observe how the walls became a canvas to tell its history, enriching the area and bringing optimism and peace to the residents and visitors alike.
Students are also encouraged to observe how, with community support, the local government built important educational hubs and community centers. The focus is on allowing them to experience first-hand how small grassroot efforts can truly transform the character and quality of life in a city or neighborhood.
Inspiring hope for meaningful change: Medellín Spring 2022
We have hosted a variety of impactful trips to Medellín and are currently gearing up for our most exciting one yet. From 3-9 and 10-16 October 2022, students will have the chance to experience the very best of this magical place while partaking in an action-packed itinerary that tackles issues of environmental projection, community outreach, and sustainability. The trip we have planned is 100% carbon neutral and will allow participants to meet and work together with fellow international school students while engaging in activities that address eight UN SDGs.