As part of the Fulbright program, one of several United States Cultural Exchange Programs whose goal is to improve intercultural relations, I was sent to San Andres, Colombia to research their overpopulation problem
It’s not everyday a brief takes me to my family’s home country of Colombia. San Andres is an island off the coast of Nicaragua owned by Colombia. It has a rich history which has given it a unique identity separate from mainland Colombia. The natural and cultural beauty San Andres boasts brings its own set of problems. In the brief given to us, the problem the island faced was overpopulation.
But as we went to the island and got to explore for ourselves, we found that overpopulation entailed many more problems than we were initially aware of.
Environmental issues came up frequently as there were parts of the island eroding right in front of us.
Resources were becoming sparse, especially for those who lived outside of the downtown area.
Locals were united in their distrust towards the corrupt government and desire to preserve San Andres’s cultural and natural roots.
Although everyone we talked to knew there was something wrong, no one was actively trying to solve the problems at hand.
There was no rallying cry or uniting purpose for citizens to come together which made their complaints all the more ineffective.
With a slew of problems out of our control, we took the focus from the overlying issues to what makes San Andres the beautiful place it is: the people. By encouraging them to be accountable for their immediate surroundings and actions, individuals can make life on the island more sustainable as a whole.
We gave this strategy to our creatives who then went to document the island themselves and are now working on a creative execution to tackle the issue at hand.