Our Stories: Catalina Echeverri
We’re delighted to be launching "Our Stories", a podcast series where we share stories about the life, achievements, and dreams of the people who build Tecpetrol every day. In this first edition, we meet Catalina Echeverri.
LISTEN TO CATALINA'S STORY (IN SPANISH)
Catalina Echeverri is a social anthropologist and Coordinator of Community Relations in Colombia. She works with rural indigenous communities in the Llanos Orientales region where our Pendare Field is located.
Anthropology came about as a bit of a surprise to Catalina. Originally, she wanted to study philosophy and literature, as she loved Latin and Greek, but it was only when she got to the National University of Colombia that she found her passion. So, what does an anthropologist do? This is how Cata puts it: "Our work is a lot about communication, talking to people, understanding their culture and their situation, but from another perspective. And that's what I do at Tecpetrol every day, getting people to become involved, to make certain decisions, and to understand these thoroughly. "
By the time she graduated, Catalina was a mom, so she dedicated herself to parenting as well as developing her research and consulting skills. After six years, she began fieldwork which is the area she finds the most rewarding—and also the most challenging, as it is where ideas and reality come together. "You graduate from university with a series of preconceived notions that are completely overturned, and it’s quite a shock. You have ideas about the kinds of capabilities that communities have, but you discover that you have to totally transform these in your head so that you can actually contribute to those capabilities, to be on a par with people and join in, to join their team so to speak,” she reflects.
Catalina is referring to the Sikuani people, a culture where machismo is strong; as a woman, she had to learn how to handle this before she could transform it. After a lot of work, she has earned for herself the soubriquet of the “mother of captains” (if you’re intrigued and want to know where this peculiar name comes from, listen to the podcast).
In her work with the communities, Catalina has learned a great deal from the Sikuani men and women: "All that work they put in, the drive to be visible in their territory; we must learn from their determination and the energy moving them to build their society. It’s inspiring to see how they continue to uphold their values and ideas, and never allow circumstances to get them down."
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