A Visit To DiverCity is Well Worth The Time   Leave a comment

There are amusement parks, theme parks and park parks but I do not think I have ever been in a place where the theme of the park is “what do you want to be when you grow-up?”

No kidding. DiverCity, located on the fourth floor of the Centro Comercial Buenavista 2 (Buena Vista Mall), Cr53 # 98-99 in Barranquilla, Colombia, is a place where children, mostly age 6 to 14 go to have fun by learning about future jobs and careers. Sound boring? Maybe to those of us that think education is to be tolerated and career development does not begin until high school or after. For children and parents in Colombia DiverCity is fun.

What struck me first as we, I went with a friend and her daughter, entered DiverCity was the sign that asked what careers the children were considering. On the list was a nice mix of what I would call working class jobs and professional careers. From driver to nurse to accountant, it seemed that whoever created the list made a conscious decision to be inclusive. Being a guy who wants everyone to have opportunities, I really appreciated this part.

Inside DiverCity is a little city, maybe the size of football field (North American). There are banks, a television studio, a wharf, beauty shop, driving area, ATMs, university, bakery, restaurants, a farm, and much, much more. Each is sponsored, perhaps better said branded, by one of Colombia’s or Barranquilla’s well known businesses or organizations. The plane where children become pilots and flight attendants is Avianca Airline’s. El Herado is the newspaper for DiverCity. AMI, Barranquilla’s service for immediate medical assistance, has an ambulance. The Universidad Autonoma del Caribe gives a diploma to children, and dresses them in graduation robes for a photo, that complete a computer based program. One could say that each company is placing its brand in the minds of the children that come to DiverCity. And from the YouTube video here there is no attempt to deny that DiverCity is good marketing. That fact notwithstanding, children enter each place having the opportunity to learn about, by doing, future jobs or careers.

It is also a place where children learn about life and living. The television studio works, with children reading news copy, against sports, weather and other backdrops. In the beauty shop, children learn about make-up and get made-up. There is a place for children to get their cedula, the identification card that all Colombian citizens must have. There are places for children to earn DiverCity money, like doing work on the DiverCity farm. They can then withdraw their money from ATMs using the money to buy things at DiverCity’s stores. They learn to manage money, get a driver’s license and use services.

A street flows in the middle of the city in a grand circle where the ambulance, a fire truck and a train circle the interior. I learned the hard way that traffic lights and crosswalks are to be obeyed, drawing stares from parents and children as I walked across the street without waiting for the light to change. Adults are not allowed to stand in line. I watched the line entering the talent show – think of the X Factor. The children managed themselves very well being conscious of who was in what place. Only once did an adult have to intervene. And that was only because another adult was trying to get his whole family of children in ahead of another child. As the wait to get into most of the places can be close to a half hour, of course children can get fidgety but I didn’t see any type of disturbance or bad behavior.

DiverCity is a place that children are eager to enter. The place does not open until 4:00 p.m. and they start lining up to get in an hour before. Because of a national skating competition that was happening in Barranquilla, on the day I went there were children there from as far away as Bogota. It seems to be fun with a great purpose. Children have fun exploring careers and jobs. They learn to be responsible citizens.

It probably has struck you that DiverCity sounds close to diversity. That theme, diversity, runs deep through the experiences this park gives children. This is a place where the playing field is leveled. Children simply stand in line to live out their dreams. At DiverCity all children of age are encouraged to dream, and do what they can to make their dreams come true. What a great lesson.

Posted December 12, 2011 by Wayne in Uncategorized

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