Marcela is the co-founder of On Board, a mobile outdoor classroom where mindful, continuously moving students learn, travel and make an impact in the communities they visit. We sat down with Marcela to hear about her hometown, Medellín, the most innovative city of Colombia and one that has come far from its turbulent past.
What stands out to you about Medellín?
Medellín, the capital of the province Antioquia in Colombia, is a city of over 2.5 million where everyone seems to know each other. The people are very warm, and you can feel the good vibes all around. If you look at the city through the eyes of someone who has lived there for a long time, you will see that it is a city of many different faces and realities.
Medellín is also a resilient city. It is a city that never quits and that proudly shares its past. It is that past, as well as the desire to write a new narrative, that makes Medellin such a special place. It is building a better reputation, while also being open to learning.
It has civic spaces, libraries, and art galleries, as well as developed infrastructure which includes a giant escalator, metro line, and the “metro cable”, a cable car allowing the residents of the poor neighbourhoods on Medellín steep hillside to easily commute to the city center, in the valley.
What are the best things to do in Medellín to prompt learning and transformative experiences?
Go beyond the most visited places, like the popular area of the city called Poblado, and explore hidden corners. Learn from the city’s history, which goes deeper than the drug lord Pablo Escobar and the events of the 1980’s and 90’s. Attend cultural events, do a language immersion, or explore local restaurants in areas like Laureles.
Meet different kinds of people of all ages, and ask how they have seen the city changing. Making an effort to speak the language will be a transformative experience in itself, especially if you connect with the locals and try to make lasting friendships.
One of the most transformative ways to experience would be to join an On Board experience, or retreats once a week or for a weekend.
What makes Medellín transformative is its capacity to make people curious and understand from within the external transformation that the city is going through.
Tell us more about On Board’s trip to Medellín this year.
This semester, On Board is making Colombia our feature destination. I am from Medellín, and I’m excited to share my country with the world. I also want to focus on Colombia because it’s a great time to visit the country. Medellín in particular is growing in popularity because of the amount of things happening there, and because of its great quality of life.
On Board will be traveling around Colombia in March, with a strong focus on Medellín and its surroundings, especially since the Global Entrepreneurship Congress has selected Medellín as the host city for 2016.
We will go on other journeys in the first weeks of April, including one focused on organic, fair trade coffee production.
Every month, we will host experiences that can be adjusted for people according to their schedules. People can also join in on our experiences at any time, even for just a weekend.
What are you most excited about for this trip?
On Board went to Medellín last year, and it was incredible! There were more than 25 mentors, and we visited 15 different communities.
When we visit Medellín, we want to focus on transformation and innovation.
Every experience will be different, but we will be sure to include the highlights of our past experiences into each new one. This time, we will add new topics, such as the startup ecosystem and entrepreneurship. We will also explore the different communities that have been starting in the city, and focus around youth movements.
It is exciting to me to see that Medellín, my home city and a place with such a tumultuous history, is now the place chosen by more and more people who want to start changing our world for the better.
Marcela is a globetrotter and life-long education-hacking journeyer. She enjoys meeting people and new cultures, has helped victims of natural disasters, and was confronted with human tragedies of war. She has visited 50 countries, has lived in seven of them, and has learned 6 languages. She started her career as a Flow Consultant, and is now on a journey to live out and prove that non-traditional educational paths can be viable options for young people. She is the founder of On Board, a mobile outdoor classroom where mindful, continuously moving students learn, travel, and make an impact in the communities they visit. She is also a TEDx speaker, and has been on stage in eight different countries and has given more than 40 talks.