More About Sebastian and Yulie

SEBASTIAN BURBANO SABOGAL

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Sebastian is 25-year-old real-life super hero living in Medellin, Colombia. Coming from a small family, he was raised by his aunt and grandparents as his father left at a young age, and his mother did not have the financial means to care for him.

Living in Armenia during the "Terremoto eje Cafetero" earthquake in the Coffee Triangle, Sebastian lost a lot of people he knew including school friends and teachers. At the age of 16, he lived on the streets of Bogotá for six months and finally, at the age of 17 he arrived in Medellin, Columbia.

Sebastian put himself through university at the Colegiatura Colombiana and graduated in Graphic Design – finishing his studies in 2012.

Sebastian works tirelessly day and night for Soul Dancers, looking after the logistics and distribution of funds to ensure every penny goes directly to the children in need. Sebastian also teaches English lessons to multiple children in various orphanages.

Due to the lack of opportunities in Colombia, Sebastian has made it his mission to connect these children with incredible needs to a window through Soul Dancers – ensuring they never lose hope, believe they have purpose in life and that their dreams will come true.

When Sebastian was asked what it would mean for himself and Yuli to come to Canada to the Calgary Dance Teacher Expo, he said it was a dream come true.

“Thanks to Soul Dancers and our angel, Steve, we have been helping hundreds of kids since the beginning. Now is an amazing opportunity to touch the hearts of many people and bring awareness to the thousands of children here in Colombia that need our help. I wish through Soul Dancers we’re able to change our mindset and society here in Colombia – a country affected by violence and corruption.”

The hope is that one day these children can connect with North American children, dancing together in unity, sharing dance education, and most importantly just being able to be“kids” no matter what country they were born in.

YULIE ALEJANDRA OSPINA JIMÉNEZ

Yulie is a 23-year-old woman living in Medellin, Colombia who has a passion for the art of dance.  Attending the University of Antioquia, Yulie is in her seventh semester working towards a Bachelor in Dance. In addition to her studies, she dances and teaches at an academy called Villa Dance, as well as Maria Immaculada Orphanage downtown Medellin for Soul Dancers.

Yulie crossed paths with Soul Dancers through a friend of a friend who owns one of the few dance studios in Medellin, Colombia. Soul Dancers needed qualified teachers to bring the gift of dance to underprivileged children, and Yulie is one of the lucky ones who received free dance lessons through a city-sponsored program to help. Yulie now teaches for the Soul Dancers charity every Sunday and earns a wage to help with her university education.

Yulie describes her childhood memories with fondness and joy despite her living conditions. It was in contrast to assumptions made based on the knowledge of her neighbourhood, the notorious Barrio de Pablo Escobar.  When teaching at the Maria Immaculada Orphanage, it was negotiated with the Sisters of the orphanage for a suitable time for Julie to teach on Sundays so she could return home before dark. It is unsafe for her to walk alone at night, as the reputation of her neighbourhood is one of unspeakable violence.

The thought of traveling outside of Colombia was never a dream prior to Yulie's connection with Soul Dancers, because she never thought that it would be possible. This trip to Canada would be an absolute miracle for Yulie.

A lifelong dream for Yulie is to own her own studio one day to help the children and through dance, transcend a life of poverty. Her life now is full of opportunities that she would have otherwise never had. Yulie is a role model and living testimonial of the possibilities that can happen when you dream big – no matter where you come from.