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First Lady of Colombia to the Scholas youth: “It’s time to make positive conversations viral.”

María Juliana Ruiz, the Colombian First Lady, spoke on Wednesday 22 April with 170 young people from different parts of the world at the 5th World Youth Cyber Meeting for Coronavirus, organised by Scholas.

On Tuesday 21 April, the 2nd Colombian Youth Cyber Meeting also took place, which included the participation of the Governor of Atlántico, Elsa Noguera.

María juliana Ruiz talks with the Scholas youth.

Within the framework of the Scholas virtual youth meetings, María Juliana Ruiz, First Lady of Colombia, talked to students from more than 60 cities around the world.

“Good morning and good evening! And what a joy to be able to greet you!” exclaimed María Juliana Ruiz, who was surprised and grateful for the number of young people attending these cyber- meetings, bringing together young people from Colombia, Argentina, Spain, the United States, Haiti, Honduras, Italy, Mozambique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, Romania, as well as Peru and the United Arab Emirates (which had representatives for the first time on Wednesday).

“We have been forced to reinvent ourselves, to innovate, to overcome and, above all, to bring out the best in us: our capacity to break down barriers and draw out the best in us,” Ruiz said when questioned by the young people on how she and the majority of the Colombian population are coping with this situation. “There is an obstacle, a challenge ahead of us, but we are not standing still. I believe that you have proven this very well with Scholas; you are a clear example of the dynamism that is reinventing ourselves…. and being able to create a bridge so that we can walk together in this situation, with different countries, with young people of all ages and languages, and yet we are still reaching out to each other.”

From the city of Barranquilla, Elmys Adriana, a student at Colegio Distrital Maria Inmaculada, was able to describe first-hand the experience that she and hundreds of young people from all over the world have had during the various editions of the cyber-meeting which, week after week, on Wednesdays, has become an eagerly anticipated event in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are breaking boundaries, especially emotional ones. It has become a home where we feel safe and where we can be ourselves, and we do this as best we know how: sharing, thinking and playing, without abandoning the hope that characterises us as young people and the never-ending smiles,” said the young student. When referring to her office’s handling of the pandemic, Mrs. Ruiz explained, “I am currently focused on my work, on our social project, on the intervention with young people and with nutrition, to which end we are centering on markets for vulnerable families.”

“This is an opportunity to walk together, to realise that we are not alone,” she continued, “perhaps that is one of the most important lessons I have learned: that each of our actions matters, and not just for ourselves, but for others. Today, self-care is a collective responsibility.”

The value of the encounter and of words

Each new edition of the Scholas cyber meetings offers an opportunity for the hundreds of young people who take part in them to delve into a specific topic and to use it as a basis for reflection, to encourage creativity, among other things. In this fifth edition, it was the turn of “the word”. Which is why it was such a happy coincidence that the First Lady’s words, before saying goodbye and opening the way for the children’s group sessions, had to do with this subject:

“Words have such a great value… that capacity to build positive conversations. In my life story, I can’t find a more appropriate scenario to start building with words than the one we are living in now. Now is the time to make positive conversations viral. Young people must be absolutely disruptive; let’s put at the forefront that positive capacity we have to connect, to see ourselves and to reflect ourselves in others based on our own essence”, she concluded.

Thank you, Maria Juliana, for these words, for reinventing yourself, for building bridges, and for the joy that you also bring us,” greeted José María del Corral, world director of Scholas, who was enthusiastic about Scholas’ activities in the country:

“Yesterday I was watching and participating for a short while in the cyber meeting in Colombia, and it seems that all the young people of Colombia will be joining this surge, this global wave, where we are all going to be infected, not with Covid-19, but with hope,” he celebrated.

By taking part in this event, the Office of the First Lady reasserted its intention to continue working in partnership with Scholas in Colombia. In October 2019, this Office and Fundación Scholas Occurrentes held a meeting in Italy, at which an alliance was forged to promote young people in the country through Sacúdete [shake yourself], an initiative that seeks to empower the talents and skills of Colombian youth so that they may become social change agents and manage to consolidate “productive and happy life projects”. This initiative is also sponsored by the Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Colombia’s Youth Council.

National cyber-meetings of Young Scholas Colombia

Elsa Noguera, Governor of Atlántico, encouraged the young people of Scholas Colombia during the II National Youth Cyberencounter..

Dozens of young Colombians participate every week in the Scholas world cyber-meetings, and since Tuesday, April 7, they have been meeting every two weeks for their own national cyber-meeting, which has brought together countless young people from the country to develop national initiatives and share their own realities. (See: First National Cyber-meeting of Scholas Colombia Youth.)

On Tuesday, April 21, the Second Colombian Youth Cyber Meeting was held, which brought together a hundred young people and had as a special guest another woman of Colombian politics, the current Governor of the Department of Atlántico, Elsa Noguera, who was President of Scholas Colombia before her term of office, and a very special person for this foundation.

During the Colombian cyber-meeting, the Atlantic leader had words of encouragement for the young people who attended the event: «We have to keep that joy in our hearts. I know it is not easy. I know that we are not used to being at home for so many days, but I love it, I really love that you do this exercise, that you encourage each other, that you talk about different things, that you play. I think this is a very important characteristic of Scholas. You learn by playing and, well, we have to reinvent ourselves every day because it has definitely changed…. The ways of communicating have changed, the way we relate to each other has changed, and we need hugs, but there will be other ways to make up for them,» he concluded.

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