When the words do not come out

Ximena Vélez is a Colombian journalist specialized in human rights. She worked for several years in her hometown in Colombia at a nonprofit organization (Esquina Latina), collecting the stories of children and women victims of war for the development of a theater play, which was performed in various communities.

In 2015 she immigrated to NYC to learn English and to challenge herself. Since her arrival, she has been working as a freelance journalist for the online Latin American media platforms LoPolitico and Hecho en Cali, producing multimedia and writing articles about immigration and asylum. She also volunteered in the Movement for Peace in Colombia and currently serves as a member of Por Colombia, an organization promoting Colombian culture, philanthropy, and networking opportunities for Colombians living in NY.

She also works in the communications and marketing department of a medical office, to facilitate service provision to the Latino community.

Ximena is one of the 16 immigrant women photographed and interviewed for our 2017-2018 exhibit Real People. Real Lives.

Real People. Real Lives. Women Immigrants of New York was shown in 2017 and 2018 as a traveling exhibit at the Starr Bar in Brooklyn, at the Queens Museum in Queens, and at the Rockefeller Foundation and at the Centre for Social Innovation in Manhattan. Almost one year later, Ximena Velez, one of the participants in the exhibit project, reflects on the experience. Her account illuminates immigration beyond the statistics – each immigrant story is a combination of determination, hope, and challenges.

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