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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Legislative Fellow Helps Combat Domestic Violence in Bolivia

By: Cat Walker, U.S. Legislative Fellow to Bolivia

During a workshop in El Alto, Bolivia with OMAK (Organizacion de Mujeres Aymaras del Kollasuyo) a prominent activist within the Aymara community began to cry as she recounted the many women she knew who had lost their lives at the hands of their violent partners. “The law means nothing. The government doesn’t protect us. The police don’t come when we call,” the woman said as her neighbors steadily nodded along with her words.

Indigenous leader speaking at the workshop
I stood at the front of the room, overwhelmed by how familiar her words were to me. As part of my work with Fundación CONSTRUIR, an organization that strives to protect the civil rights of indigenous communities, I was asked to provide presentations at local NGOs on best practices for working with domestic violence survivors. At first, this task seemed daunting. Certainly, I figured, the best practices that apply for service providers in the United States would not apply worldwide. I imagined that, in a country where domestic violence protections were just written into law less than two years ago, I would find service providers and survivors facing a completely distinct set of challenges than what we encounter at my organization in Washington, D.C., where we benefit from some of the most progressive domestic violence legislation in the country.

However, as I listened to the stories of the women I encountered, I was surprised to find that indigenous survivors of intimate partner violence in Bolivia experience many of the same outrageous injustices as the majority of my clients, who live in the capital of one of the most powerful nations in the world. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Senior ECPA Fellows Program and Urban Development in the Americas

By Laura Castanon, Senior ECPA Fellows Program

The Senior ECPA Fellows program aims to send pre-selected U.S. technical experts on climate and energy to Central and south American countries.   One of the main topics that the ECPA fellows address is clean energy and sustainable urban development.

Sustainable Urban Development has been placed as one of the most urgent topics by the UN-Habitat report of World Urbanization Prospects 2014 which claimed that currently the 54% of the world’s population reside in urban areas. The urban population of the world has growing rapidly since 1950, from 746 million to 3.9 billion of people in 2014. As the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development challenges will be increasingly concentrated in cities particularly in the lower-mid income countries where the pace of urbanization is the fastest. Integration of policies and implementation of projects to improve the lives of both rural and urban dwellers are the most needed priority.
In order to engage with the big challenge of sustainable urban development, ECPA Fellows Program contributes in a small but significant way through different projects led by the fellows themselves. These projects have been born after the fellows’ visits in Latin American and Caribbean countries where they have explored the local needs. Here is a list of visits and projects that the ECPA fellows have engaged with and—in some cases—are still working on:

Univision Nightly News Spotlights #100KStrongAmericas Study Abroad Success at Montclair State University (Español a continuación)

Students from Chile’s Universidad Mayor studying biotechnology at Montclair State University were interviewed as part of a storyon Univision Nightly News about President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas.

Their faculty sponsor, author of the winning grant proposal, Montclair State Professor of Biology Molecular Biology, Carlos A. Molina, also appeared in the report which mentioned that the experience includes classroom and laboratory study as well as visits with cutting edge biotechnology companies in New Jersey.

The story appeared Oct. 9 on theEdición Nocturna (Nightly Edition news) during the Network's Education Week. The report was entitled, "Plan educativo une a EEUU y Latinoamérica: El nuevo plan del presidente Barack Obama busca ampliar las oportunidades de estudio para los jóvenes.”

Montclair State University is one of nine higher educational institutions (HEIs) selected as winners of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund Competition #3, supported by Santander Bank and Santander Universities.

Funding is being leveraged by the university and community college winners to break down barriers to bilateral student exchange in the Americas, with a goal of sending 100,000 students per year from the U.S. to study in Latin America and the Caribbean, and a similar number from these countries to the U.S., both by 2020.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Study Abroad to Have Impact at Home

By: Kate Maloney, U.S. Legislative Fellow to Brazil

Kate Maloney in Beco do Batman (Batman Alley) in Sao Paulo
In 2013, President Obama established the 100,000 Strong in the Americas: an ambitious goal for the U.S. to send 100,000 students to Latin America yearly by 2020, and for Latin American countries to send 100,000 students to the U.S. In my work at the Department of Education, I participate in the U.S. side of this initiative by administering foreign language and area studies grants to U.S. students, many of whom choose to study abroad in Latin America.

As a participant of the Legislative Fellows Program, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil and see student exchanges from the Brazilian point of view. I partnered with the Lemann Foundation in São Paulo, which aims to achieve educational transformation in Brazil by supporting technology in K-12 classrooms, educational research, teacher development, and graduate funding for young leaders to achieve social change. During my fellowship with the organization, I interviewed Lemann’s fellowship winners who studied the STEM fields in the U.S. through the funding of the Brazilian Science Mobility Program and the Lemann Foundation. As my fellowship project, I used the interviews to develop a strategy to strengthen the network of fellows.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#PartnersYouth at #Partners50th

By: Belen Sauer, Intern, Partners of the Americas

#PartnersYouth were out in full force at the Partners of the Americas 50th Anniversary Convention that took place September 23-26 in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.  While there was plenty of celebration to be had, we had a lot of work to do!  Youth participants were engaged in every main session and took advantage of the wide range of breakout panels and workshops to connect with new people, share their ideas, and learn about what’s happening in the Partners of the Americas network. 

Youth leaders Joao Aguilar (Youth Ambassador, Rio Grande do Sul Chapter VP), Silvana Gomez (YA 09’, Youth Colombian Leaders Co-Founder, PlayLee Co-Founder), Eddie Rosales  Lainez (A Ganar Alumni , A Ganar Staff), Danielle Martin (President’s Intern ’14), Ruben Aguero Quinteros (YA ‘11, President’s Intern ’14), Aníbal Cardenas (PartnersCampus Panama President), and Karina Casado (PartnersCampus UniNorte President, Northern Colombia Chapter Vocal), presented their experiences as Partners volunteers and community leaders that inspired thoughtful conversations about the role of youth in sustaining youth-led volunteer service in the Americas.