June 29: Compartiendo nuestras historias // Sharing our stories

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¡Hola soy Franz y soy un estudiante Guatemalteco!

Hoy tuvimos nuestro segundo día de clases y el primero fuera del campus. Fuimos al Mango por la mañana. Cada uno compartió su definición acerca de la Guerra contra las drogas y también compartimos 3 experiencias donde este problema nos ha afectado de una manera muy directa. Me sentí muy emocionado y a la vez un poco asombrado al escuchar a mis compañeros compartir sus experiencias. Siento que eso es a lo que vine: a escuchar a las personas, su perspectiva, aprender de ellos y hacer lo posible para que ellos aprendan de mi. Con esa actividad me sentí muy satisfecho. El poder escuchar esos testimonios tan fuertes me dejó asombrado y a la vez con muchas ganas de seguir escuchando más. Con estos dos días puedo asegurar que mi estadía aquí será sorprendente, son personas grandiosas, muy inteligentes, divertidas con las que me siento muy cómodo compartiendo.

La actividad de la tarde fue igual de maravillosa como el resto de actividades que hemos tenido. La importancia de estar aquí, contar nuestras historias, escuchar las de los demás es algo muy enriquecedor que nos servirá este tiempo aquí adentro y también es algo que podremos utilizar mucho afuera cada uno en nuestra comunidad.

Estoy muy feliz. No siento el paso del tiempo. Me levanto y cuando veo ya estamos cenando y ¿a que hora pasó un día entero? Estamos tan ocupados, tan interesados, con tantas ganas de conocernos que creo que nadie tiene idea de a que hora pasamos un día entero. De corazón creo que si esto continua así todos nos iremos enamorados del programa. ¡Muchos ya lo estamos según me contaron y quien no lo este, no demorara mucho en hacerlo, esto es una gran oportunidad, una experiencia única en un lugar tan hermoso como éste.

-----[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]-----

Hi, I'm Franz and I'm a student from Guatemala!

Today was our second day of classes and our first day of class outside of the campus. We spent the morning at a space called "El Mango." Each one of us shared our own definition of the War on Drugs and also shared three experiences in which this problem has affected us in a direct way. I was excited but also shocked to hear my classmates share their experiences.  Experiences like this one is why I came here: to listen to people, their perspectives, learn from them and do what I can so that they an learn from me too. I felt really satisfied by this activity. Having the opportunity to listen to such powerful testimonies left me feeling stunned but also want to keep on listening to more. Just two days into my stay, I can already tell that my time here will be full of surprises. My classmates are big personalities, who are intelligent, fun and with whom I feel comfortable sharing.

The activities in the afternoon were as amazing as the rest of the activities that we've had so far. The importance of being here, of telling our stories, of listening to others is an enriching opportunity that will serve us not only during our time here, but also something we can take back to our of communities. 

I'm really happy. I don't feel time passing here. I wake up and before I know it, we're already eating dinner. It's hard to know how a full day managed to pass. We are all so busy, so engaged, and so eager to get to know each other that nobody has time to realize that time is passing. From the bottom of my heart, I feel like if things continue as they have been going so far, we'll all leave completely enamoured of this program. From what I've heard from the others,  many of us already are! And those who are, will surely be soon! This is a great opportunity; a unique experience and in such a beautiful location! 

La politización del despliegue militar en México contemporáneo

Nuestra querida Camila Ruiz Segovia va a presentar su tesis de licenciatura titulada "La politización del despliegue militar en México contemporáneo"  el jueves, 3 de mayo a las 12PM EST (11AM, CDMX) en el Faculty Club de Brown University. El evento será transmitido en vivo via la página de Facebook del Departamento de Ciencias Políticas. En un par de días, el Departamento publicará la liga para la transmisión en Facebook. No se la pierda! 

Our very own Camila Ruiz Segovia will be presenting her undergraduate thesis entitled "The Politics of Military Deployment in Contemporary Mexico" this Thursday, May 3 at 12 PM EST at the Faculty Club of Brown University. The event will be live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Department of Political Science. In a couple of days, the Department will post the link for the live-streaming here. Don't miss it! 

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Catalyst featured in International Education News

"What does it mean to educate young people about drugs and the War on Drugs? For anyone growing up in the 1980s or 1990s in the U.S., it likely meant programs like D.A.R.E. This educational approach to drugs and the impact they have on societies has often involved vilifying those struggling with addiction and offering a simplistic solution of “just say no.” In many countries in Latin America, education about the role of drugs in society follows a similar narrative. The outcomes of these kinds of educational programs are both controversial and heavily criticized. Offering a productive alternative, a group of educators and activists from across the Americas has developed a complex and innovative educational organization, Catalyst, to examine the War on Drugs and the role drugs play in our societies."

Read the full article here: https://internationalednews.com/2017/11/15/connecting-youth-voices-for-new-ways-to-approach-drugs-and-education/  

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Collaboration with COlumbia University

We're excited to be collaborating with Columbia University's Institute for Latin American Studies K-12 Outreach Program to adapt the Catalyst curriculum into a teaching guide for Tri-State Area high-school teachers. The guide will be published in April 2018 when we'll also give our first teacher training to a group of educators who are interested in using our curriculum in their classrooms. Stay tuned for details! 

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Ripple effects

We are thrilled to see students from our original cohort begin to share what they learned last summer and starting new conversations about drugs, drug policy and the War on Drugs within their home communities. For example, this past week Manuela (Catalyst '17) delivered a lecture about the history of drug policy at her high school in Bogotá. Keep up the great work! 

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Celebrating Catalyst 2017

Thank you to everyone who came out to learn about, celebrate and support Catalyst at our New York fundraising event! Your generous donations amounted to over $3000 that will go towards providing full, need-based financial aid to next year's participants. A special thank you to Verso Books for hosting us, to Cara Roberts for providing us with a delicious spread, to DonChristian for performing and to DJ Tikka Masala for spinning us into the night.