June was a busy month for the HiperBarrio project in Medellín, Colombia. It all began when they were invited by Carolina Botero to attend Campus Party, one of the Spanish-speaking world's largest technology conferences. Though their registration fees for the event were waived, they still needed funding for the transportation costs and for food. This is where the city government of Medellín stepped in, offering to cover all transportation costs and officially recognizing the positive impact that HiperBarrio is making in the outlying communities of their city. Finally, just as the group of youngsters got set to board the bus for their 12 hour journey from Medellín to the capital Bogota, their parents presented project coordinator and La Loma librarian Gabriel Vanegas with enough money to cover the food expenses throughout the weeklong technology conference. It was an extraordinary gesture for a community scarce of resources and reveals their commitment to keep the project going.
Campus Party Bogotá attracted more than 2,000 attendees, mostly young people from around Colombia and Latin America. The great majority camped throughout the week at CORFERIAS, Bogotá's largest convention center, in tents provided by Telefonica. Here is a description of Campus Party by Gabriel Vanegas on the morning after their arrival.
Son las siete de la mañana de lunes 24 de junio y estamos en Campus Party, esta es una fiesta tecnológica que se realiza por primera vez en Colombia. Ayer fue el día de la llegada desde Medellín, todos nos ubicamos en las afueras de COFERIAS a esperar hasta el medio día, cunando inicio el proceso de acreditación, registros de PC`s e instalación en las carpas. Fue un día de ajustes en los que la logística de este evento recibió a más de 2.000 personas provenientes de todas partes del mundo. El ambiente ha sido de fiesta, una fiesta en al nos encontramos hasta la media noche cuando se realizo la inauguración oficial del evento.
Si hacemos una ecuación y sumamos campuseros apasionados… + Internet + encuentro + compartir conocimientos y experiencias… = fiesta.
If we make an equation and add passionate attendees + Internet + gathering + sharing knowledge and experience = party.
You can learn more about Campus Party by watching this video (in English) by Guatemalan blogger Christian Van Der Henst Solis and this video (also in English) featuring the Chilean Claudio Ruiz and Carolina Botero, organizer of the blogging track at Campus Party.
In the lead-up to Campus Party, many of the young bloggers who make up ConVerGentes (you can find their blogs on the Blogroll of their main site) began reflecting about the progress and successes of their project and small community. Everything began with a one-day workshop last August when a group of library users from La Loma got together to create a video they called “The Recipe.”
Since then, they have become so much more, and have continued to grow, always inviting new members of the community into the library and teaching them how to blog, vlog, and podcast. Milthon, who blogs with a silver tongue at Helel Ben Sahar, took time to note just how different each member of ConVerGentes is, yet how unified they have become as a group.
En su concepto, la mera idea de un grupo como ConVerGentes, es alocada y hasta irracional desde muchos puntos de vista. Reunir a un grupo de muchachos caprichosos, todos tan distintos, y con tan diversos objetivos para que sean útiles a su comunidad y al mundo, es cosa como para arrancarse los pelos de la cabeza. Sin embargo, eso es precisamente lo que estamos viviendo; esa es nuestra realidad. Somos un grupo absolutamente heterogéneo – menos mal- que intenta hacer que su comunidad no sea solo un punto más en los mapas de Medellín, y que los hombres y las mujeres que la habitan, no pasen por el mundo desapercibidos, sin más posibilidades de inmortalidad que la que ofrecen las efímeras memorias de sus familiares y amigos.
Esta heterogeneidad de ConVerGentes podemos apreciarla solo con dar una mirada somera a algunos de los blogs. Ésta misma, ha sido a veces causante de dificultades y sinsabores, pero creo que ha sido el mejor aliciente de toda la experiencia.
As a concept, the very idea of a group like ConVerGentes, seems unreasonable, even irrational from many points of view. Bringing together a group of capricious kids, each so different and with diverse objectives, in order to be useful to their community and to the world … it's something that can pull the hairs from your head. And yet, this is exactly what we are doing; this is our reality. We are a completely heterogenous group trying to make our community something more than just one more point on the maps of Medellín so that the men and women who live here don't pass through the world unnoticed, with no possibilities of immortality other than what the ephemeral memories of friends and family members can offer.
We can appreciate the heterogeneity of ConVerGentes with quick glance at some of our blogs. This same diversity has at times also been the cause of difficulties and heartaches, but I believe it has been the best incentive of the entire experience.
Throughout Campus Party the bloggers of ConVerGentes were busy documenting their experience with photographs, videos, and blog posts. Here is a video by Deneiber Mesa showing off some of the most interesting computers he saw at the event.
Viviana was impressed by a fellow blogger she met from Putumayo and was surprised by their technological knowledge given the general impression of the region as rural and, as Viviana puts it, “not completely modern.” Yuliana declares that “men are monsters when they talk about technology”, but also that “without a doubt, technology is the good side of the modern era as it has brought about better communication, improved education, culture, and quality of life.”
Their experience at Campus Party also resulted in lots of attention from bloggers and journalists who were impressed by the group and their determination. Aitor Riveiro, a journalist for Spain's El País, describes the achievements of the group in his article, “Finding a place in the world thanks to technology.” The article has attracted many comments lauding the work of the young citizen journalists. Popular Chilean blogger Claudio Ruiz featured a podcast about HiperBarrio on Quemarlasnaves.net. And many bloggers throughout Colombia penned quick posts declaring their admiration for the group that is bringing a small outlying community of Medellín to the global stage.