Maria Perez wears many hats as the Colombia-based International Coordinator for Peace Boat. Peace Boat US intern Michelle Terazawa recently did a special interview with Maria about her experiences as a longtime member of Peace Boat’s worldwide team. Read on for Maria’s thoughts on world travel, contemporary issues in Colombia, and–of course–Peace Boat!
1). Could you please introduce yourself, describe what your position is, and tell us how long you have worked for Peace Boat?
My name is Maria Perez. I am a graphic designer by profession, activist and traveler by heart. I have been involved with Peace Boat for the last 8 years. First I was a volunteer as a Spanish teacher onboard with the GET program, and for the last 6 years I have been involved as a staff member. I work as an international coordinator and am based in Colombia, where I am involved in Latin-American issues, activities and exchanges: coordinating programs onboard Peace Boat, along with logistics in ports of call and relations with contrapartners in the region. I also support graphic design work for the Peace Boat offices in Tokyo and New York.
2.) As a native Colombian woman, what do you see as the major issues faced by Colombians right now? How are civilians coping with these issues?
Right now Colombia is under peace dialogues to sign the Peace Agreements, which address some of our biggest problems such as violence, economic differences and human rights. All this is a long and deep history and will take some time to resolve, and some civilians are more engaged than others. But so far, I believe that Colombia wants and deserves peace.
3.) What inspired you to get involved in this particular line of work with Peace Boat?
The people I have met on Peace Boat are the ones who inspired me to get more involved (staff, volunteers, participants and guest educators). We all believe in a better world and everyone is doing his or her own part to achieve that. In my particular line of work, I think Latin America has a lot to offer, with lots of diverse cultures. There are many interesting social changes happening there, and many people and communities being part of those changes.
4.) What do you enjoy most about Peace Boat?
The opportunities to hear, feel, see and learn directly from different cultures and people. I enjoy meeting people a lot because they all inspire me in different ways.
5.) What has been your favorite place to visit on the Peace Boat and why?
Every place has its own magic, but Peace Boat was the change that led me to visit, live and work in Japan, which has been an incredible experience in my life path. There are places that I never imagined I was going to visit, like Eritrea, Seychelles, the Antarctic… Peace Boat has been my favorite place to visit interesting stops.
6.) How would you convince people to get onboard the Peace Boat and learn about global issues that our world faces today?
By sharing what we really do. More than a boat that travels, Peace Boat is a community to learn, live, and feel the world… It’s an amazing experience with really interesting and engaging people from all around the world, people who are full of enthusiasm, curiosity and knowledge.
This post was created and published by Helen Hope Rolfe (Intern from Peace Boat US)