Sheila  Duffy - Sustainable Development Consultant & Coach


COLOMBIA
 
After 60 years of drug and guerrilla turmoil, Colombia has emerged as one of the safest countries, and one of the most welcome to foreigners, in the world.

You are invited to immerse yourself in Peace Time Colombia. Your visit will take you high into the Andes where the weather is perfect year round and the water and air are clean. You will live and work in a rural village 30 miles from the famed Cartel capitol and city of flowers, Medellin. To get to the village of 15,000 inhabitants you must travel miles up a narrow dirt road to where few have ever seen a foreigner let alone spoken to one. Your presence will be one of the most talked about event of the year.

Dr. Grant Suhm, a colleague of Dr. Duffy's for over 20 years, is your guide. This native New Yorker is an international development professional who has spent the last two years working in community development and cultural education at and around Texas A&M University. Before that, Dr. Suhm lived and worked on five continents embedding himself in isolated and resource deprived communities. Starting in 1982 he spent time in Colombia working with the Indians, Afro-Colombians, and slum dwellers. This experience culminated in a marriage to a Colombian International Lawyer then a return to the United States to pursue his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts Center for International Education. After that, he developed study tours for the US Peace Corps and US State Department.

Thirty years ago, Dr. Suhm bought a neglected ranch up the hills from an extremely impoverished roadside village in the Colombian cloud forest. He and his family have been working with this quaint community as it struggled to weave it's way through some of the most difficult episode of Colombian history. He started by planting coffee trees then later, figs, castor beans, vegetables, sugar cane, and acquired cattle and a horse. Dr. Suhm then invented inexpensive ways to roast coffee to help villagers improve their income. Finally he created a sewing incubator where young women can liberate themselves from oppressive clothing factory conditions. His work is a rich example of sustainable community development and conflict resolution. What he has cultivated most among these now war refugees is trust and a collaborative spirit. When many either died or left the region to become refugees, Dr. Suhm
survived the country's guerrilla and right wing conflict and is one of the few foreigners that has a presence in this formerly isolated and troubled region. His long-standing relationships with people in the area offer an advantage to his guests. People love Americans, even if they don't always agree with their politics.

In addition to learning about historical, cultural, economic, social and environmental aspects of Colombia, Spanish language immersion and meaningful service work, you will visit some of the best swimming holes imaginable and experience quaint aspects of daily life like the brightly colored 55 year old wooded community bus that picks up passengers each morning and drops them off in the evening.
 
Trips to Colombia guided by Dr. Suhm are offered twice a year in May/June and December/January.  Each trip is customized to the specific goals, interests, schedules and budget of the participants pivoting from the Medallin region.

Participants will:

Learn about the historical, cultural, economic, social and environmental aspects of Colombia
• Learn how different local foods are grown, processed and distributed
• Learn about the various ecosystems, habitats and species in the region
• Work on and visit small scale farms
• Work on and visit community development projects
• Participate in service activities that suit interests
• Spanish immersion
Family home stays and locally cooked meals with trusted community members within close walking distance of Dr. Suhm’s ranch
•  Pre-departure orientation, coaching sessions and frequent learning check-ins, and post-trip coaching session with Drs. Duffy and Suhm

Spanish language instruction, day trips, transport to and from the airport in Medallin, and massages and manicures/pedicures can be a part of your program, if desired.  Lodging options include homestays and hotels.  Enjoying traditional foods is a daily delight.

In addition to learning, serving and enjoying Colombia, participants provide income to small scale farmers and rural residents by visiting their communities, farms and homes.
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