November 2019: From Beth Fisher-Yoshida

Dear SPS Faculty,

We are more than midway through the semester now and it may feel like we blinked and so many weeks were gone, or time is moving like molasses. I think most of us will agree it is the former and there is so much more we wanted to accomplish by now.

Another aspect of time that comes to mind is something I experienced last week while I was in Medellín doing fieldwork. I have been working there for the past 5.5 years with some of the same groups and some different groups of youth and community leaders. Some I see on a more regular basis and some I do not meet with regularly. What struck me on this last trip was that “while I was not looking” carefully, transformations were taking place. Youth leaders who I had shown certain practices were continuing to use them in really effective ways of which I was unaware.

One case in point, was a process of capturing narratives through identifying critical moments. The practical theory is Coordinated Management of Meaning, which has a set of models you can use to engage participants in dialogue and reflection. The particular topic of this exercise one of the youth leaders led with others was reconciliation. Different groups of people who had been involved in “La Violencia” directly or indirectly, were now grappling with reconciliation. They expressed their ideas and partnered with groups of graffiti artists who depicted their stories visually. This photograph is a picture that is painted on the outside wall of the Museum of Memory in Medellín. I was speechless with emotion at how what I had taught transcended my expectations.

So, the impact we have on others cannot always be measured within one semester although that is how we are structured. The learning for which we are responsible to guide is the gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you,

Beth Fisher-Yoshida