Music and Peace
My interests in music and peace began as a child. I was born in Colombia where there has been armed conflict for more than 50 years. My parents are missionaries in Ecuador, and I often helped in their work, witnessing elements that help create a peaceful society. My father taught me how to play traditional instruments like the guitar and the bomba, and I played music at church.
When I started at Hesston, I was disoriented about what I wanted to do. I first studied pre-architecture, but switched to sociology. At Hesston I discovered my passion for thinking about peace and justice in an academic setting. After graduating, I transferred to Goshen (Ind.) College where I majored in peace, justice and conflict studies and minored in music. I worked with mental health for immigrants for a year, as I believe health and education are important pillars of peacebuilding and the foundation for a peaceful society. I also worked as a guitar instructor. I received a master’s degree in international peace studies with an emphasis in policy and political change from the University of Notre Dame (Ind.). For part of my degree work, I spent eight months in Israel and Palestine working with a journalist and discovering stories of peace and hope in the midst of violence.
Music has been present throughout all my endeavors. At Hesston I had a band and was able to share my original music and culture with students and the community. I also studied classical guitar, music theory and took voice lessons. I have played at peace festivals and rallies for undocumented immigrants. I believe carrying a message through music is my mission as a musician and allows me to facilitate awareness about issues. Many of my original songs carry messages of environmental issues, love for humanity and creation and are inspired by my experiences in Colombia, Ecuador and the Middle East.
Music as Vocation
My band, La República Rock Latino, formed in 2011 with my brother Juan and a percussionist who comes from the same region of Colombia. We toured throughout the United States then moved to Mexico City in July 2014, which is a cultural hub for Latino arts and music. We are now working with a manager, have opened for a famous Latin rock band and are trying to get our original music out to the masses.
A Multicultural Experience
Hesston is a special place because it brings the world to you with students coming from so many places and cultures and sharing their stories. That kind of exchange has transforming power. It encouraged me to be an agent for social change. It’s easy to be in an academic institution and be trained to be a professional and make money. A multicultural experience places value not on making money but growing as a member of a global community.