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Reflections on the Colombia Program of the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

by Paulina Guerrero

Luis Cardozo of Circo Ciudad demonstrates how to have a good time on the National Mall.
Luis Cardozo of Circo Ciudad demonstrates how to have a good time on the National Mall.
Photo by Paulina Guerrero

The Colombia program for the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival was an incredible and dynamic success. By dividing the country into six ecosystems, the program made an important and interesting connection between people and their environments. Because the public may not have known a lot about Colombia, providing this backdrop served to bridge an understanding about communities and eco systems that people from rural areas, whether they are in the U.S or Colombia, could understand and relate to.

The participants were amazing liaisons in disseminating information about their cultural forms. If there was one element I would do differently, it would be to encourage more fully the exchange of ideas between the participants of the Colombia program not just with each other, but also with participants in the other programs during the actual festival days. Creating time for and encouraging participants to leave their areas and relate and socialize with other participants would facilitate a more egalitarian approach to the festival, and generally continue to promote a festival atmosphere of learning not just for the public, but also for the participants.

Overall, the program was amazing, beautiful, and productive.

Paulina Guerrero, a folklorist and filmmaker, served as a presenter and interpreter at the 2011 Festival. Originally from Washington D.C. , she is currently pursuing her doctoral studies at Indiana University. She plans to continue her interests in cultural sustainability issues, and she recently completed her first short documentary film.

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