Back in 2005, Nora Catalina Urquijo already had a blog on MSN Live Spaces [es], but says in an interview with Rising Voices about her early days blogging, “what I didn't know was the power that a blog could have.” Nearly two years later after joining the HiperBarrio project in the La Loma neighborhood in Medellin, Colombia, Nora Catalina has found out firsthand what its power can do for her, for her neighborhood, and for others.Originally from Pereira, Colombia, she arrived to La Loma at the early age of 4 years old. Now 20 years old and studying Biology at the Antioquia University, she is one of the most active members of the HiperBarrio project, taking full advantage of her blog $UJETATE (UNKNOWN II) [es], which is now hosted on WordPress. She still remembers how she joined the project in May 2008, with the encouragement of La Loma's Librarian Gabriel Vanegas [es]. She began to comment on the blogs belonging to the different members, and little by little began she got to know each of the members personally, until she became a full member of the group.
Using the full array of citizen media tools, Nora Catalina, who is closely associated with her nickname “blueandtanit,” has been documenting life in La Loma. For example, she filmed this YouTube video in which a musical group from the neighborhood, which includes HiperBarrio member Xady, plays for the crowd during the Balloon Festival:
With the expansion of the HiperBarrio project, several team members were hired to implement workshops in conjunction with the Catholic University of the North, with students from the Diocesan School John Paul II in the city of Ituango, a community located 195 kilometers from Medellin. Nora Catalina was one of those who were chosen to share her experiences and teach the basics of citizen media to the youth of Ituango. She describes these first experiences:
The first trip to Ituango was simply a wonderful experience, not only for the beautiful scenery that one can see in Ituango, and along the route, but also to be able to talk with the people, feel their kindness, and finally the experience to be able to share knowledge with youth from Ituango. Even though we have already implemented workshops in La Loma, it was the first time that we implemented workshops with people who just found about (the tools). It was my first work-related responsibility, but also it was something that I liked doing, which is being able to share with others what you know in the best way possible, and that is something that I am convinced that we all should try.
Instead of learning about blogs, she was now the teacher, “something that my best professors have said is that they also learn from their students. I never quite understood that, but this experience (teaching citizen media) helped me understand that,” said Nora Catalina. Even from a distance, Nora Catalina keeps a close eye on the postings of HiperBarrio Ituango:
I still get happy when I see them write posts, upload photos or videos, when I see their comments on another blog or when someone comments on their blog, even more, I admit that I am happier when I see comments on their blogs than comments on my own personal blog.
Her own personal blog is very special to her, but she also regularly updates her Flickr account, Twitter account, and YouTube account. This entire experience using citizen media has changed her outlook on life:
I was always a solitary person, and thanks to some bad experiences at school, I hated working in groups. However, (being a part of HiperBarrio) was not only a way to discover new ways to use the internet, but also a way to discover a world around me, and start to recognize that to start to “rescue the historical and cultural memory” of a place like in which the one I lived, has helped create a great feeling of belonging.