María Elisa Pinto-García, founder and CEO of Colombian art-based social change organization the Prolongar Foundation, joined Peace Boat's 101st Global Voyage as a guest educator from Montego Bay, Jamaica to Cartagena, Colombia, sharing her experience related to peacebuilding and the link between art and conflict transformation. Currently, the central art-based practice of Prolongar Foundation is the Japanese Kintsugi technique, which invites us not to discard objects that have been broken, but rather to repair them and to enhance the damaged areas by filling the cracks with gold.
During this, her first time onboard, María carried out various activities with voyage participants focused on the Colombian conflict and the work of the Prolongar Foundation. During a series of talks, she spoke about the Colombian conflict, the peace agreement and ongoing efforts for peacebuilding. “As you can imagine, after 30 years of conflict, our society has been broken in many pieces and levels. Individuals are broken within themselves, relationships are broken among people, and in general, fear and mistrust prevail in the Colombian society,” she said. “As humans, we need to focus on our hearts. The Kintsugi practice is one of the most powerful metaphors to celebrate the beauty of our scars, to learn from the past and build a future of peace around the world.”
María shared her own testimony in another onboard session, speaking of her impressions when first practising the art of Kintsugi. “When I had the experience of opening those wounds and sealing them, after transforming that vase we had in our hands, that was the moment when I recognized that reconstruction is the best thing that can happen to human beings (... ) feeling the power of healing, forgiving and accepting people as they are, not as they were, but as they are today.”
Peace Boat participants also had the opportunity to join a Kintsugi workshop with María onboard the ship. This was a great opportunity to cultivate self-understanding and heal wounds. Joining the pieces and highlighting the scars enabled participants to reflect upon the beauty of imperfection, resilience, connection, and reconciliation, learning about the post-conflict scenario in Colombia and also considering connections to their own lives and communities.