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Urban Transformation in Colombia 2019 Scholarship Interview

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 08.55.21We are really excited about the launch of our new Urban Transformation in Colombia course, which will start at UPB in Medellin in just a few weeks’ time. The course will explore the way that the city has transformed in recent years, from somewhere infamous for its violence into somewhere renowned for innovation and investment in infrastructure and the urban environment. Here we talk to Lina Escobar, UPD’s academic lead for the course, and Sam Morley, MA Architecture and Landscape Architecture student from the University of Sheffield and the recipient of the 2019 Urban Transformation in Colombia Scholarship, about their expectations for the course.

 Q: Lina, tell us about what you are looking forward to during the Urban Transformation course
A: I am excited about bringing such an international group to my city, from many different academic interests around the world. It will be fantastic to see the students interacting in different urban spaces around Medellín. People here are very welcoming and open to foreigners, and I think that the group will enjoy speaking to the local community and learning about with the transformation the city has experienced in recent years, and to what degree this has improved their lives. The students will interact with social leaders and I think that they will be impressed by the human quality of the people.

Q: Sam, why did you want to take part in Red Tree Study’s Urban Transformation in Colombia course?
A: I jumped at the chance to visit Medellin: as my friends will tell you, it is a city that I have obsessed about visiting for years! The government there follows a unique philosophy of ‘social urbanism’ using it to empower citizens from some of the poorest neighbourhoods. I am fascinated by the way that the city has engaged with displaced communities, and evolved from somewhere troubled into a thriving place of tourism and business. Winning the full scholarship has been fantastic for me because it has enabled me to do something that I have been planning for so long!

Q: Lina, why did UPB select Sam as the 2019 Urban Transformation in Colombia Scholarship winner?
A: Choosing the recipient was really difficult because we had so many excellent applications, from students with a diverse range of interests in architecture and development in Medellin. All of them would have been able to make a great contribution to the course, but Sam’s application particularly stood out. Sam’s work with the water and sanitation organisation Dig Deep is really interesting and I liked the idea that he would be able to apply knowledge from the course in Medellin to projects in Africa, because exporting these ideas is really important. I was really pleased to hear that he’d been thinking about Medellin for a long time and that his enthusiasm meant that he’d been telling his friends and family about it too!

Q: Sam, tell us what else you’d like to get out of your participation in the course
A: Because of my history working with charities, for my Masters I am studying humanitarian architecture to aid displaced communities in urban settings. There is much that can be learnt from Medellin on this topic, and the city has often hosted displaced communities, from rural areas in Colombia as well as more recently from Venezuela.  I am looking forward to seeing Medellin’s social urbanism projects first hand, and to applying them to my research and work in future.

The 2019 Urban Transformation course will run at Pontificia Universidad Bolivariana in Medellin from Monday 17 until Friday 28 June. To find out more about the course, or about how to apply for 2020, please contact us.

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