Writing about our orientation for the fourth cycle of the Seed Program in pairs can be hard, especially from a Brazilian and a Colombian perspective. However, we can say that this time in Bogota was important and impactful for all of us in both different and similar ways. Since the beginning of the orientation without doubt we have changed a lot.
Firstly, we both traveled to Africa for the first time. We attended our general orientation just outside of Johannesburg with the team from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We met our team, we learned a little bit more about the work of MCC around the world, and we were impacted by the stories and experiences of South Africans during apartheid. Before coming to South Africa, Carolina spent a few days with her brother and sister-in-law in Germany. Josiel, thanks to the bad airlines services, had the opportunity to spend two days getting to know Rome. We both had a taste of Europe.
We both had to learn to deal with the Bogotá weather. It rains then the sun appears. You get hot and wonder, “why did I bring this sweater?” It gets cold and you ask yourself, “why didn’t I bring an extra sweater?” For Carolina this was a relief since she is going to live in Barrancabermeja, the ‘oven’ of Colombia, according to all Colombians. To Josiel it was a preparation, since he will be in the mountains of Soacha, a city cooler than Bogotá.
Something really hard was to get onto the Transmilenio, Bogotá’s bus transport system where every person fends for themselves. Carolina thought all the years of packed public transportation in São Paulo would have prepared her for those moments. For Josiel it was “tranquiiiilo…” He could walk to the office from his home without problems, although a few times he also had to fight over 30 cm2 on a public bus, or pray for his safety when taking a taxi and deal with the city traffic.
Carolina said goodbye to her parents, friends, and country. Josiel did not say goodbye to his country, but to his family and community. For all of us, it was equally difficult to know that for the next two years we won´t be around our beloved families and friends.
As we arrived in Bogotá, MCC welcomed us with a delicious lunch and we were hosted, along with another seeder, by host families. Carolina shared a room with Leanna from Canada, while Josie, along with Lweendo, of Zambia, were hosted by Anna Vogt from Canada. It was a great opportunity to practice our English, to learn more about other cultures, and to have new friends.
During our time in Bogotá, we had the pleasure to experience the beauty of Colombia and to learn more about the history and context either though listening to sessions that were part of our orientation, or observing the graffiti filled walls of the city. Carolina was thrilled while Josiel discovered new aspects of his country. Together we were prepared for our coming years, getting to know more deeply all the pain that this country has experienced, and all the violence it has struggled against; something that had a familiar flavor for Josiel.
A few weeks ago we said goodbye to our time in Bogota, to the CCM office, to its beloved team, and their delicious coffee. The next step begins. Although we have many expectations, we know in our hearts that we are in the right places, trusting in the work of our team and certain that God has saved very special days for us during our time of building peace in Colombia.
By: Josiel Lucumi and Carolina Gouveia