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Cógela Suave with Domino Volunteers

By Charlotte Ingalls, a recent graduate from American University's Masters in Social Enterprise, who works with Domino Volunteers to strategize ways to facilitate radical collaboration in the business world to create social impact.

Let me save you a google search -- “cógela suave” is a common phrase used in Cartagena to mean something along the lines of “take it easy”.

Maybe cógela suave is your natural inclination. If it is, Cartagena is the perfect destination for you. If it’s not, Cartagena is still the perfect destination for you. The city and the team at Domino Volunteers will teach you what cógela suave really means.

I first connected with Domino Volunteers seeking a topic for my graduate school thesis project which I think everyone would agree evokes the opposite emotions of cógela suave. I just finished my degree in Social Enterprise and am interested in connecting business professionals with social impact work. As I was trying to plan my project this time last year, I was overwhelmed by the daunting task. Where do I begin? Who would support me? How could I connect my project to real social impact?

Strategizing with the Domino Volunteers team to discuss values, mission, and how to maximize our local impact and sustainability.

I am extremely grateful that I was introduced to Christina and the team at Domino Volunteers. Beyond giving me a platform for my project, they immediately turned my anxiety into a cógela suave mentality.

Let me be clear. Cógela suave is not an apathetic state of mind. On the contrary, Domino Volunteers and all of their partner organizations do an incredible amount of impactful work. My experience with all of them was not cógela suave -- take it easy, don’t do anything. It’s more like cógela suave -- take it easy, we are going to help you do this!

That’s what Domino Volunteers is all about -- supporting the community. They partner with over 30 social impact organizations throughout Cartagena. I was lucky enough to travel to Cartagena for a week and meet a handful of the organizations. With everyone I met, I was blown away by their kindness to me, their deep compassion and connectedness to the communities in which they work, and their friendship amongst one another. They personally know one another and offer support however possible.

Domino Volunteers is an integral part of this community network. Unlike many volunteer organizations that sit in offices in countries disconnected from Cartagena, the Domino Volunteers team is deeply integrated in the community. They know each of their partner organizations because they actually work alongside them and host round tables to gather the social impact community together.

A snapshot from one of my visits to a youth foundation Domino Volunteers works with.

When you volunteer with Domino Volunteers, you can deep breathe and cógela suave because you are now part of this fantastic community. They will guide you through Cartagena, listen to your interests, and connect you to the perfect project because again, they know all of their projects so well.

During my short visit to Cartagena, I had the opportunity to visit a few of the partner projects and meet various members of the community. I was overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness, joy, and dedication to the work they do. I’m sure it has something to do with the beautiful Caribbean and the magical city of Cartagena, but also they are truly a community of buena gente...kind-hearted people. They taught me to cógela suave -- be proactive, serve others, and don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of people and place around you in the process.

And as for my thesis, everyone’s willingness to share with me during the week I was in Cartagena gave me an incredible springboard to work on my project, and the Domino team always managed to give me feedback, a boost of confidence, and cógela suave vibes to forge ahead every time we spoke...and I got an A :)

With my nieces and nephew at graduation.


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