In November, students, teachers, municipal authorities and academics in northern Chile’s rural Elqui Valley celebrated the half-way mark of the two-year English program for students from public rural schools, We Learn Access.
As part of the event, Alex Godoy-Faúndez, Director of Universidad del Desarrollo’s Sustainability Research Center and Strategic Resource Management (CiSGER) as well as research associate at Columbia’s Earth Engineering Center, gave a series of presentations regarding environmental protection.
“The experience was very rewarding because it was with people who normally don’t have access to this kind of presentation, this knowledge. Looking at their faces - especially the mothers and fathers, the adults - I could see that they were interested in the subject, that it made sense to them,” says Godoy. “It was worth having come, as these types of things often fail to reach places like this. It should happen more frequently”.
Participating Access students from the Liceo Mistraliano school, located in the rural Paihuano district, expressed gratitude for Godoy’s visit, and several were surprised to learn that they themselves can take action to help fight global warming and do their part in combating climate change, with actions as simple as altering their food and purchase preferences.
“The fact that the presentation was done in English is fundamental”, notes Ana Ochoa, principal of Liceo Mistraliano. “The Access program aims for children to be able to develop skills in English, so that can listen, speak and ask questions. With different experiences such as this presentation, we’re supporting them in developing these skills”.
“The topics addressed are totally current, and are directly related to what is happening in Elqui Valley. The subject makes a lot of sense for our students”, she adds.
Columbia Global Centers | Santiago collaborates in the organization of academic activities within the We Learn Access program. This program, implemented by Fundación Educacional Oportunidad in partnership with the US Embassy in Chile, is meant to create and expand personal, academic and eventual work opportunities for youth by significantly improving learning and education".
The We Learn Access program offers advanced English training to high school students in Elqui Valley. The program focuses on four areas: astronomy, cultural identity, care of the environment and youth leadership, led by English teachers and English-speaking professionals, with the goal of promoting cultural exchange and awareness of global issues.