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Rediscovering their home town

By Charo Quesada

Some might say that taking children of low-income backgrounds on museum trips and excursions around the city where they live is a waste of time compared to other more basic needs, such as learning to read and write, or staying in school until graduation.

But not the directors of Bucaramanga’s Museum of Modern Art. Why? Because the poorest children in this Colombian city lack the opportunities and stimulation necessary to their development. They get little or no support from their families. They rarely leave the neighborhoods where they live. Not to know their own city, its history, its monuments and its cultural offerings represents a tremendous void in their sense of personal identity.

The program “The community’s children look at the city” is an attempt to improve this state of affairs. With the support of the IDB Cultural Center and other public and private institutions, the museum has launched an initiative enabling 600 children from Bucaramanga’s poorest neighborhoods to learn about their city’s culture and history and explore its most representative works of art. For many such children, this program represents a unique opportunity.

“The idea is to reinforce children’s values and help them to understand our heritage,” explains Edilma Martínez Martínez, the educational coordinator. The reason, say the organizers, is that children need to learn to “read” the social, artistic and historical meaning of their heritage at a young age.

Children reproduced the cities they visited with scale models.

The participating children had a wonderful time on excursions devoted to historical, business and cultural/educational themes. They had to pay close attention to the explanations and observe every detail because, when each excursion was over, they would have to reproduce the city they had just discovered for the first time in drawings and scale models.

The IDB Cultural Center’s Cultural Development in the Field Program supports small projects that promote cultural initiatives in Latin American and Caribbean member countries through the IDB’s Country Offices.