Author Ricardo Aricapa Visits TCS


Author Ricardo Aricapa responds to a question from a 10th grade student in the Columbus School Theater on March 14.

Author Ricardo Aricapa participated in a panel discussion about his book Comuna 13: Crónica de una guerra urbana with 10th grade students in the theater on March 14.  

Aricapa shared how he got his inspiration for the book and how he worked with the victims of the armed conflict. Students participated in the panel and had the opportunity to ask Aricapa questions about the book and his life.

“We used up this opportunity to actually be informed on the topic and the current situation on the Comuna 13, so I think the exercise of listening and developing questions was well done and helped all of us on the understanding of the book and our society,” Mariana Mesa, Grade 10, said.

The event was organized by the 10th grade AP Spanish Teacher Norberto Villa and MS/HS Librarian Lina Isaza, but the whole panel was led by the students. The panel discussion was led by Maria del Mar Alvarez, Matias Saldarriaga, Ilana Uribe, Maria Echeverri, Maria Jose Castañeda, Jeronimo Mejia, and Pablo Arango.

“I was the master of ceremony of the event in which the author Ricardo Aricapa visited the school, initially there were only six students that were in charge to make the questions, one representative from each Spanish class, but it ended up being an open panel in which all students had the opportunity to ask their questions and participate of the conversation,” Pablo Arango, Grade 10, said. 

The book tells the story of several people who lived in Comuna 13, showing the different points of views and how the armed conflict in the area affected their lives. The chronicle offers the audience the perspective of someone living in the comuna and the way each decision the government made made an impact.

I think the book is a great reading choice because it gives the students the opportunity to learn about the armed conflict in the city and how it unfolded. What I love the most is the personal touch that the author gave to the book by using real characters and having them narrate it from their personal perspective. It’s not just some news article, Susana Arias, HS Learning Center Coordinator, said. 

The author’s visit had a conversation-like structure in which students asked questions based on what they learned in the book. The students used this space to ask questions regarding Aricapa’s opinion towards characters or events, or to answer questions or wonderings they had about the book.

“I was impressed because students were very well prepared and we used all the time given by the school. They had a lot of questions and made me realize a lot of things about the book. Overall it was a success,” Aricapa said.

After releasing the first edition of the book, Aricapa received complaints from several characters represented in the book. They felt like their lives were endangered with their names on the chronic, therefore, he had to change the name of the characters in the second edition.

“It was really confusing for me and my friends because we all had different versions of the book, one had the physical book and the rest the virtual version, so at the time to discuss it, names had been changed from versions and that made it difficult to find a fluent conversation,” Maria Correa, Grade 10, said.

Although it was the first invitation to an author after COVID happened, many students and teachers stated that the panel exceeded all expectations and that it was a great start in order for all HS students to have this opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to being here next year. These conversations are extremely important to me as an author, they enrich me and make me realize a lot of  things that I haven’t noticed before, as also I can notice how my audience is receiving the book and their information,” Aricapa said.