The United Nations’ United Buddy Bears

Santiago, Chile – June 2015

“We have to get to know each other better …
… it makes us understand one another better,
trust each other more, and live together more peacefully.”

-The official motto for this display

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I missed gato fest. Again. A different cat festival is advertised nearly every month in the metro stations, but they’re ever elusive and I’ve yet to attend one. As a consolation prize, my girlfriend asked if I wanted to see a surprise in the park.

After 45 minutes of subways and buses, we arrived at Parque Bicentario. The surprise was the United Nations’ United Buddy Bears display. Each member nation was given an identical fiberglass bear and told to decorate it in a way that reflects their culture. The project goes out of its way to constantly remind you that the bears are equal and hand in hand, as if Israel and Palestine had reconciled their differences instead of just painting the bears that were given to them and later placed together by the display organizer.

The bears were fun, quirky, and colorful.

A few of my favorites:

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Moldova and its brutally honest sense of humor.

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Bolivia and Tio, a satanic deity that lives in the mines and demands sacrifices to keep the workers safe

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U-S-A!   U-S-A!   U-S-A!

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Fun stereotypes were abound, and for a short time, conflicted cultures came together in the mind of the event organizer.

Official site for the Buddy Bear project

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