• What happens when the “official” and the “popular” stories about your hometown do not match what you archive in your family album? ... This project is an alternative narrative force that complicates the archival landscape of the City of Medellin.

    Wait...Am I Back in the U.S.?

    About eight days ago, we students went to with a few of our compañeros to El Tesoro, which is a mall in the wealthiest part of Medellín. I was amazed when we arrived. Everything was somodern. It was the nicest mall I had ever seen, and clearly most people there were at least relatively well off. It seemed as if every other person had an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt or other American attire written in English. Everybody was well dressed, and I recognized almost every single store. Besides the fact that almost everyone there was probably Hispanic, I felt like I was in a different part of the U.S. I felt the most comfortable than I had felt in that entire trip. Although I knew something was wrong, I could not put my finger on it at first.

    Today, five of us went back to El Tesoro to watch a movie and have dinner. That same feeling from before returned, and this time I could label it as guilt. It was a guilty pleasure to be having a great time at the mall. I felt that I was betraying my civic engagement duties.

    After touring all of Medellín, of course I would feel the most comfortable in the most “American” place. Days before I had seen extreme poverty. Now I was at a pizzeria chatting away. How am I so privileged to be able to enjoy these luxuries?

    First, I need to acknowledge my privilege in this world. I do not know how or why, but either way I was born into a very healthy life—mentally, physically, and geographically. Furthermore, it astounds me the way the United States has such a large presence everywhere. The wealthiest part of Medellín was…the most American? During dinner yesterday, a Beyonce song was playing on the radio. American music is also prevalent here? These things started to blow my mind. It makes me sad that even in another country American culture has at least some level of dominance. After all, I came to Medellín to learn about an entire different culture, not be reminded of what I am used to. Why do the bestrestaurants have to be so Americanized? Why do the best clubs have to have American music? I still do not understand.

    I have fallen in love with Medellín: the food, the people, and the culture as a whole. There are many things that I wish I could bring back to my country from Colombia. Although American culture does exist in Medellín (mostly wealthier places), There still exists a rich and unique Colombian culture that amazes me. So far this experience has taught me to appreciate stepping out of your comfort zone, yet at the same time to not take for granted the place that you live. I miss my home in the the states, but there are many new things I will learn here that I hope to apply for the rest of my life. These daily reminders that have bits and pieces of American culture make me miss my home yet fall even more in love with Medellín all at the same time.


    1. great article!!!!.....and you're totally right about the "americanization" of the wealthiest zone in medellin....I am Paisa, i work around one of the wealtiest zones of all colombia "la milla de oro" and I can see the richest people tryin' to be american....even in speach matters...they combine spanish with some english words....i know that some of that words became part of the lexico, but there's a whole difference between "anglisismos" and that phenomenon.....even so....congrats!!!....Medellin isn't EL POBLADO....Medellin is so multicultural, and in every corner of this amazing city you can find what you are looking for..nice people, amazing food, great weather, culture, sports, etc......

    2. Colombia has many people that work in the United States, they get their resources to invest later in Colombia.

      They support their families or parents and bring
      American ideas and life styles.

      Leo, Sabaneta, Antioquia

    3. A long time ago, during the XVIII century the technical model for the post industrial development was copied from the U.S. The politicians, merchants and industry men, pioneers of the railway transportation system in Colombia were interested in marketing textile machinery, imports and agricultural industry products. They went to Berkely University. The acquired knowledge there was invested mainly towards the development of our railway system in the state of Antioquia and with that began the industrialization of Medellin. This part of our history explains that we have had an influence from the U.S., so no wonder El Poblado`s Tesoro Mall is also a small copy of your country`s culture in Latin America.

      Luz Amparo, San Javier, Medellin

    4. Why are so Americanized? Well there are some reasons for that. For instance one of these is because we have been influenced by TV since the 1940s. A lot of our TV programming comes from the U.S. and because of that we can see the american lifestyle as an example. On the other hand, doing some research during my english class, I found the "Good Neighbor Policy" --U.S.-Latin America Foreign Policy---, which basically says, the U.S. wants to keep an eye set on Latin America. So it is very important and decisive for the U.S. to keep its relations and interests with L.A. in good terms to provide the U.S. a scenario to develop its policies and influences for its economical, cultural, political projects, etc. In spite of that we are very proud of how our city has grown up in identity and passion for what we do. We are working harder to keep our culture and show all the world what we are like.

      Hernan, Medellin

    5. The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of the administration of United States President Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America. The United States wished to have good relations with its neighbors, especially at a time when conflicts were beginning to rise once again, and this policy was more or less intended to garner Latin American support. Giving up unpopular military intervention, the United States shifted to other methods to maintain its influence in Latin America: Pan-Americanism, support for strong local leaders, the training of national guards, economic and cultural penetration, Export-Import Bank loans, financial supervision, and political subversion. The Good Neighbor Policy meant that the United States would keep its eye on Latin America in a more peaceful tone. On March 4, 1933, Roosevelt stated during his inaugural address that: "In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor--the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others."[4] This position was affirmed by Cordell Hull, Roosevelt's Secretary of State at a conference of American states in Montevideo in December 1933. Hull said: "No country has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another" (LaFeber, 376). This is apparent when in December of the same year Roosevelt again gave verbal evidence of a shift in U.S. policy in the region when he stated: "The definite policy of the United States from now on is one opposed to armed intervention."[5]

      The above quote may explain in part what is happening not only in Medellin but also in Latin America. Just in Colombia alone we have, to cite a few: Colombo-Frances, Colombo-Aleman, Colombo-Japones, Colombo-Suizo, Colombo-Aleman, Colombo-Americano, and so many more other Colombo-Something that I can`t remember. For example the mission of the Asociacion Colombo-Japonesa is: "To promote the Japanese Culture....." So it looks like we are flooded by all these countries competing to get our sympathy so they can access easier our natural resources. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ESXdZkJ6rA (youtube video)

      Fernando, Bello

    6. USA has always been the most important country in America.It has taken advantage of this fact, therefore it uses less powerful countries to explote signing bilateral investment treaties where USA put the conditions and also destroy our national factories as they are not enough strong.

      That's whay globalization makes sence.Free comerce and a global language which is the most common influence the industry in the world.Moreover, USA manipulates its relations with other countries creating a doble moral that help and destroy.

      USA empire has awaken the interest of many people, as being citizen or resident there is a big achievement,that is the idea that third world countries have because we believe in their country but not in ours.But I just ask myself why they want to invest and help us?

      In conclusion, it is a co-dependence between USA and Latin-America countries, we supply them with all the commodities and we buy what they produce. But they demand the visa and we do not, so if Colombia invested in its develop, it would be a great powerful country.

      Maria Adelaida Agudelo
      15 years
      comuna 11, laureles

    7. Colombia is a beautiful country and has a lot of culture that don’t exist in everywhere, because the people are so friendly and so supportive, the food is delicious and it characterizes each region of our country.
      However, our culture has been affected by the foreign countries, since these exert an influence, and it generates that people less their interest for the native of our country. Other of the factors that affect our culture is the imports and the economical and technological development of other countries, because most of the people think that the best way to progress and be a developed county, we need the help of another county.
      The North American culture has a lot of dominance in our culture that is represented in the music, the food, the clothes, and other things that make us slavers of them.
      In conclusion, is important that people learn to love our culture. We have to be proud of our country and appreciate all the things it has, and try to diffuse the good things too much as we can to people of other culture and countries, to they learn and know our beautiful country.

    8. Colombia has a great diversity of culture, this has gone growing since we were colonized.Beautiful music, dances, amazing food and hobbies make part of that.
      But why do we let others to influence us?
      USA has a huge influence in Colombia. They are "part of us" now, especially talking about clothing, music, some items and basically, the language. The influence comes from some centuries ago, when USA was converting into a powerhouse.
      USA not only entered to Colombia as trying to get more power, but also wanting to manage it.

      Nonetheless, colombians say they love their country, therefore colombian culture, but they don't do anything to be proud of it or even make it significant.
      American culture is not that bad, but ain't what we need to grow as a cultural country.
      So i think it's nice to know other cultures besides make ours more important than these ones.
      If we figure this out and try to be more Colombian, we won't make it weak.

      Daniela López
      17 years
      comuna 15

    9. well, colombia has many cultures, and each one has one think that makes that colombia is a beautiful country, however many people from colombia especially the wealthy people, almost always colombian people wants to be like the U.S( i don't know why) but i think that is because the brands, the kind of clothes well i don't know, but for me colombian people have to show to the world how is colombia, for example, colombia is represented by the guerrilla, the FARC and many bad things, and i know that in all the world says that colombia is the worst country in latin america, so, we have to do that colombia is not only a war, kidnnapings and more things, so we have to show that colombia is a beautiful city, ¡VAMOS COLOMBIA!

    10. it is true that we are losing a big part of our culture, this is because we prefer the foreign things, we think they are better so we prefer to buy american products and no the colombian ones. we are trying to be like united states in some culture things, maybe, because U.S has a big influence on us.
      united states wants to be involve in everything, they pretend they wanna help and have good relations with Colombia and Latin America, but no, they just want to use us, to explote our natural resources, our wealth.
      now united states has a lot of influence in Latin America and because of it, sometimes we do not see United States real intensions.
      it is really sad how we are losing our culture and traditions, how we are changing it for another just because we think that the foreign is better than our own things.

      catalina severino
      14 years
      comuna 8, boston

    11. I think that our country is so beautiful and has a beautiful culture, may be what you´re saying could be true that the wealthiest part of Medellin are very marked of American culture, but you have to know other parts like El Pueblito Paisa, La Plaza de Botero and other places that reflecte our culture

      Colombia has a lot of diferents cultures and that´s what it makes so especial our country, a defect that we have is that we don´t apreciate our culture.

      I was thinking the things the American Culture create like the music, the food, the clothe are followed for the rest of the world because it is a big country that exercises an important influence on the rest of the countries in the world.

      Sara Narvaez
      14 Años
      La compañia de maria la enseñanza

    12. These days you can hear people talkin about the culture, the poverty and violence. It is a fact that the government needs to implement strategies to satisfy the population´s necessites, because all the circumstances which affect the actual world are the sign of this lack of necessities.
      Now, we aren´t he complete guilties of the actual situation. Through the history, Colombia and Latin America have been affected by the big powers of the world. In almost an intagible way, the latin american cultures have been touched by many different civilizations from Europe and from the U.S.
      I think one of the most efficent way to fight and get over the social, politics and economic problems is encourage and promote our own culture: feel it and feel proud of it.

      David Villada López
      16 years
      Comuna 12

    13. The influence of United States in the World is being bigger, they started being our friends, but they didn’t’ want our friendship or something like that; they had two purposes, the first one was Project their own country, they said “They are our friends, they won’t attack us”. A lot of countries in Latin America were influenced by U.S, for example in the second war some countries of South America gave to the U.S the raw material; with that material they could do whatever they wanted. They had radios, technology, sophisticate, architecture and so on. But they didn’t have as much petroleum as Venezuela, as much diamond as Brazil. They are a development country thanks to South America and out naive. The second thing, that they wanted to dominated us, and nowadays we can see the consequences. Everyday we are like in the mirror of the U.S, we want to be like that country, all the thing here in Colombia are really Americanized. We listen music by the North American singers, our T.V programs are really similar, (we do the copies) xD, sadly, we lost our identity; we don’t want to be in Medellin we want to be another white star in the U.S flag. We can’t be a state of U.S. we have to fight for our race, culture, believes and ideology, we can’t lose our identity. This is the country where we were born and you must fight to defend it. We have the same potential as U.S and we can be recognized like a development country and city one day. If you wish it, it may happen.

      Camilo Restrepo Alvarez
      16 Years
      Comuna 11

    14. “Americanization” is real and our costumes are being replaced for American costumes. The main reason is that we don’t have character to defend our culture, actually we feel ashamed with our music, our food and some other stuffs.
      If we can’t impose our culture, our history and our talent, whoever can come and impose other things, and because of our bankruptcies in the field of love and proud for our things it is easy for them to make us change and mold us until becoming one of them.
      Having relations with other countries and interchange cultures is okay but before of that, it is very important to know, respect and love our ancestors, our history and our culture.
      As a conclusion we can say Americanization is an effect of our bankruptcies in education because love for our culture and our country is something we must learn since we are children.

      Ana maría Flórez Ríos
      18 years
      Comuna 7

    15. I think that in Colombia people always manages to usa how to change our habits with their ideologies and expressions that are easily transmitted to the Colombian people, U.S. people whenever you have any need, try to travel to countries like Colombia because know that people will always treat you better and make them easier to open your business, a clear example of this can be seen in the village because there are restaurants and shops which promote American culture. This fact also is that rich people are more interested in enriching the culture of others than our own culture, Medellin is a city which is much poverty and rich people not interested in helping strangers are more interested from other countries. I think Medellin after a few years will not have people in our country but it will be more populated with people from abroad while our culture will gradually dimming.
      Stiven Borja
      17 years

    16. In my opinion the cause of the "Americanization", is because many people that live here in Colombia don't appreciate all the things that we have and prefer go to others countries and begin a new life there, without money or some things that are necessary and don't cares nothing, and the other part of the people want to have a very expensive life here and cares much what people think or talk, and they want to be well regarded. For example a lot of women prefer a Louis Vuitton bag that have a "Mochila", or some representative bag of his country.

      Also many people think that United States is a country more advance and they want to get all those things and don't value all the beautiful clothes, houses, the amazing food etc. In my place I prefer the others countries to know new things and only to visit different places.

    17. I think that the " americanization"it is promoted for all the society like a media.

      Because longs times ago the american people brought a customs that the colombian people followed,like eat fast food, canned and made that the colombian people think that the products of u.s.a are better than the colombian products.

      Also that the colombian people try to be an amerincan people is about with u.s.a is a world power and they have more opportunities for export products that in colombia are more cheap compared with make in colombia.

      However all people know that in u.s.a are more opportunities for work and have a better life with more amenities but i think that colombia is so multicultural,like any other country. We have a lot vegetables and all of kinds of fruits or food that in other countries do not plant.

      Colombia it is a beautiful place that you can visit to see that is a wonderfull country and that the colombian people should be proud.

      Isabel angel
      16 years
      La estrella.

    18. Well, you ask why we are si americanized?
      1st because we are AMERICANS, but I think you are talking about why we imitated the U.S.A. culture, that is easy to explain, we can consider U.S.A. economy as an empire because it is in constant expansion, searching for new markets, and the emergent countries as most of latin americans is a very good place toexpand their industrie, because in the south part of America the industrie the industrie is not strong as in the U.S.
      2nd U.S.A. products represents power, and are expensive so rich people think that those products are the best ones and they don´t value their own culture. All depends of the education.


    19. great article. i agree Colombia is slowly becoming Americanized;now days kids in Colombia try to be something they are not such as talking broken English just to feel "cool". tho i feel like if you really want to see culture visit Barranquilla during its Carnaval. and listen to the stories that it has. its really good and interesting, also its really fun.




    Who we are, what we do

    Who we are Funded by grants from Duke University and donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DukeEngage,we are six Duke students, who are collaborating on an 8-week Community Literacy Project, in Medellin, Colombia. This is the third consecutive year in working on this project, and we are building on the work of countless people that includes 300 Colombian youth and elders, 57 students from Emerson College in Boston who created a multi-media catalog & a short film "108 things you might not know about medellín", community members, and more than a dozen Duke students. what we do We are collaborating with youth, women & men in Medellín to create 325 five-minute video stories about displacement, violence, & everyday life as a peace force. We want you to know that in Medellin, la violencia is not the whole story.DukeEngage

    What we do

    We are collaborating with youth, women & men in Medellín to create 325 five-minute video stories about displacement, violence, & everyday life as a peace force. We want you to know that in Medellin, la violencia is not the whole story.