Volunteering at the Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias

Los voluntarios !

I am in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, where I just finished volunteering for an amazing literary and arts festival called Hay Festival. It’s an international cultural festival that invites authors, artists, musicians, and filmmakers to give lectures and converse with each other about current events, literature, or just life.

As a Green Room intern, I received the artists and acted as their personal assistants for the duration of their events. I must admit that it was the most rewarding volunteer experience I have ever had for a cultural festival. I was expecting to be given logistical work and no opportunity at all to meet the invitees, who are normally treated like VIP by people higher up the festival ladder. However, as a “Organizer” (lo que decía mi escarapela!), I enjoyed the chance to meet the invitees and get to know them better outside of their public personalities.

La Casa del Socorro - por lo menos disfruté mi sancocho y la conversación !

I worked with Bee Rowlatt, Philippe Claudel, Guadalupe Nettel, Hugo Chaparro, Senal Paz, Michelle Paver, and Joumana Haddad. As my authors/journalists ranged from British to French to Colombian to Arabic, I utlized my English, French and Spanish! I especially connected with Guadalupe, Hugo, Michelle and Joumana. I will never forget the hilarious dinner with Hugo and Senal at the Italiano Delizie… we talked and laughed until 1 in the morning, and the restuarant shut down but the Italian owner let us stay inside and talk until we absolutely couldn’t anymore. Trying butifarra at the Palacio de Inquisicion with Philippe and Alessandro Baricco was similarly amusing. These two Europeans were starving and crowding the butifarra servers as if they had diamonds on their platters. Finally… I had dinner with Alessandro and Guadalupe the last day of the festival at La Casa del Socorro. We were trying to decide whether it was La Casa or La Cocina del Socorro that was the “original” seafood restaurant of Getsemaní and were getting mixed reports from people, but finally decided to go with what our taxi driver recommended. While La Casa’s seafood was mediocre and expensive, our conversation was unforgettable and “valió la pena”. We talked completely in French, and I only respected and liked the two writers more as the night progressed.

If you want to intern for Hay Festival, email admin@hayfestival.com. Specifically, Hay Festival Wales is coming up in May and Hay Festival Xalapa will be in October. Happy independent volunteering, people!

Much love,
Ani

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