MEDELLIN - ANTIOQUIA, COLOMBIA
  
 MEDELLIN          ANTIOQUIA

 
WELCOME TO:
Santa Elena, Antioquia - Colombia

Santa Elena is a rural farming area up in the mountains, east of Medellín, and composed of 17 small villages called: “veredas”. People, who live down in the valley think of Santa Elena as a scenic, fresh air place of cool temperatures, and the home of the Silleteros.

Santa Elena, from North to South, is similar to the length of Zona Urbana, (the Medellin area) and nearly as wide. Santa Elena, cool clean air, dramatic vistas, un congested, and a beautiful retreat from vibrant and dynamic Medellin.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

Silleteros are campesinos (farmers) who brighten up the annual Feria de las Flores (Fair of the Flowers) as they parade (August 7th.) through Medellin with Silletas strapped to their backs. A Silleta is usually round with hundreds of colourful flowers attached, and weighing as much as 200 pounds! The Silleteros are always a memorable sight as they parade through the streets greeted by enthusiastic cheers of thousands of parade watchers.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

The farmers of Santa Elena also raise papa (potatoes), blackberries, and strawberries. Area farmers sell their fresh milk to Colanta, the principal dairy plant in Antioquia. Santa Elena also has small factories which make “Arepas”, a typical pancake-like, breakfast food made with corn. A Santa Elena abandoned farm house, almost 100 years old.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

The largest building complex in Santa Elena is the Colegio de Santa Elena, a modern education complex with 980 students, and a part of the Medellin school system.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

Students range from grade school to high school level and 99% are from Santa Elena. The student, who represents the 1%, is a U.S. citizen from Colombian parents (now U.S. citizens) who live in the U.S. Her parents wanted her to learn from a wider range of subjects than are commonly available from U.S. schools, and to be with her kinfolk, learning their culture. She lives in Santa Elena, with her grandmother, shown on her right. Students using free phones (one minute limit and you have to call again) which are common in the rural and poorer areas.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

To maintain a favourable student-teacher ratio the Colegio has two sessions a day. World population increases are a universal challenge, even in many desirable rural areas such as Santa Elena. Photos below are of the sewing class, the Information Technology Class, and the English class, as Professora Amelia hands back the previous days test. Shown also is the student suggestion box, and a photo of a typical student lunch which costs less than 5 cents U.S.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

The second largest building is the village Administration Building, a part of the State of Antioquia. Santa Elena also has a modern, well stocked library.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

Most of the land around Santa Elena, including the beautiful Parque Arvi, is owned and protected by the State of Antioquia. Building density restrictions insure that the area will remain a rural setting of rolling hills, great vistas, streams, forests, family farms, clean air and water.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

Santa Elena’s scattered small farms (fincas), and houses (casas) include weekend retreats owned by the wealthy from Medellin. Some of the houses and farms are also lived in year around, by descendants of foreign immigrants from Germany, France, Italy. Etc.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

The “culture” of Santa Elena is decidedly different than Medellin. Locals are more independent, self sufficient, and less likely to be influenced by fashion, trends, music, or the TV novellas which throughout Central and South America are slowly (author’s opinion) undermining the goodness and strong family orientation of Hispanic culture.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

Many Colegio students are a tough, stubborn lot, and not easy to motivate. Exceptions are those who study hard with the desire to go on to a University. When they graduate they will leave their families and Santa Elena to realize their new found potential of greater income, thus more options in life. Those who remain will perpetuate their culture by carrying on the long time traditions and values of farming in the mountains of rural Santa Elena.

Two Colegio professors are from Santa Elena, seven from Rionegro where the International Airport is located, and the balance from places down in the valley, Medellin, etc.

Meet Yazmín Cifuentes, the I.T. (Information Technology) Professor. She speaks good English, and goes by the nickname of: “Jazz”. Professor Yazmín, along with her students, is responsible for the Colegio’s Home Page at: www.ieducativasantaelena.com. If there are other classes throughout the World Wide Web who would like to establish a pen pal relationship with the Santa Elena Colegio, visit their website.

Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia
Santa Elena - Antioquia, Colombia

NOTE: The author of this text has spoken (in Spanglish) before many school classes in Cuba, Central America, Venezuela and Colombia. I found the students of Santa Elena to be unique-a bit suspicious, independent, not easily led, and perhaps a bit unruly. And… I enjoyed the experience! Would I like living among them in Santa Elena? Yep!


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