Cristian Sáez Flórez (Master of Global Affairs, International Peace Studies, '21)

Author: Matthew Macke

Program:  Master’s in Global Affairs, International Peace Studies Concentration

Research Interests: Armed Conflict and Memory, Transitional Justice Systems, Gender Issues, and Data Visualization

Hometown: Planeta Rica, Córdoba, Colombia (Although much of the past 20 years has been in Medellín and Bogotá)

What drew you to study peace?

“All of my experiences are based in Colombia, and specifically based on armed conflict. I was lucky to be part of the Kroc Institute’s Peace Accords Matrix project, which is part of the 2016 Final Peace Agreement in Colombia. I was part of the project helping to monitor peace agreement implementation, and I applied to the Master’s to have more of a technical and theoretical background for what I’m doing in the field.”

What did your six-month internship with the Colibrí Center for Human Rights entail?

“Basically, I assisted with the Missing Migrant & DNA program. What we do is support the family and friends of missing migrants who contact the organization. We gather information, like physical details or clothing they were wearing, and DNA, to help to identify them. I helped to create missing migrants records and contacted the families. I’m really interested in data, so my main project was to create a data tool that allows Colibrí to query the data from their allies in the most efficient way for a fast identification process.”

Listen to a podcast about Cristian’s internship at the Colibri Center >>>

How have your own experiences influenced your ability to relate with families?

“My boss at Colibrí told me that one of the reasons they picked me was because I had experience working with victims in Colombia. I worked for a time at the House of Memory Museum in Medellín. It’s something that I acquired with time: the capacity to work with persons going through very hard times in their lives, people who were victims of a lot of things. But it’s never easy, so you really need to prepare yourself.”

What is one lesson from the MGA program that really stands out for you?

“They teach us about strategic peacebuilding a lot, which I think can make you a really great peacebuilder. But the biggest part for me has been how they encourage you to practice self-reflection. That is super necessary for growing as a peacebuilder or as an organization.”

Listen to a podcast conversation with Cristian discussing his internship at the Colbri Center: