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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Universities Win 100,000 Strong in the Americas Funding for Study Abroad in Health

Today the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced seven new winners of 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grants for study abroad. This is the fifth group of higher education institution winners to receive Innovation Fund grants this year.

The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, President Obama’s signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of Western Hemisphere students studying in the United States to 100,000 by the year 2020. The initiative is aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, at increasing prosperity, and at better preparing a globally aware workforce.

The objective of the current competition, generously supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation, is to promote study abroad in health and nutrition in the Western Hemisphere, with a focus on identifying solutions to help prevent and reduce obesity. The selected recipients will do this by conducting research on combating obesity linked behavior through physical activity and nutritional education , examining health beliefs and practices that contribute to greater risk of obesity, using technology to maximize culture awareness and education and other innovative
means.The competition was open to higher education institutions in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

A Ganar Facilitators – Our MVPs

By: Paul Teeple, Director, Sport for Developmen
(Español a continuación)

“I believe in the power of sport, and great facilitators, to change lives.”

One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting with our amazing A Ganar Phase 1 facilitators. These are the people who work day and night leading field and classroom sessions with youth in some of the toughest neighborhoods in our hemisphere. These facilitators make sport come to life and use it to literally save lives. They open their hearts to youth. They risk their own lives traveling to and from sessions and working in environments that can explode in violence at any time. Some of the youth we work with are dangerously close to gangs, often only one or two steps away from being full-fledged members. For these reasons and more, I always say that our facilitators are the most important members of our A Ganar staff.

Group of A Ganar facilitators and coordinators
Recently I was in Guatemala where I had the opportunity to have dinner with three A Ganar facilitators. (I’ve withheld their names to protect their privacy and the youth in their groups.) It was a chance for me and my colleagues Nadia and Julissa to thank them for their work training youth in one of Guatemala City’s most violent communities. After getting past the usual social graces, we shifted the conversation to A Ganar. My colleagues and I wanted to ask them a few questions about the program. Our first question of “How can we improve A Ganar?” was met with some hesitance. Maybe they couldn’t think of concrete ideas on improvement or maybe they didn’t want to offend their hosts. Either way, it was difficult for them to answer.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Arkansas Traveler: A Legislative Fellow's Experience

By Eva Miroslava Rosas Ramiro, Legislative Fellow from Tepeaca, Puebla, Mexico

My experience with Partners of the Americas started one day when I was checking randomly the American Embassy profile on Facebook. That day, I found the opportunities that I might have a chance at. So I decided to apply and that was the beginning of such great experience.

I landed on September 27 at Fayetteville’s airport in Arkansas. I was pretty nervous. since I didn't know where I would be staying. After a 12 hour journey, because of the long wait in Dallas, I arrived safely and an amazing person was waiting for me. Her name was Heidi Cohen, and during the days before my lodging was available, she and her family provided me housing and a most important thing: they introduced me into the Arkansas way of life.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Partners' Farmer-to-Farmer Program Tackling Climate Change in the Dominican Republic Head-On

Submitted by Courtney Dunham, Senior Program Officer, Agriculture and Food Security

Photo taken by F2F volunteer (Nov. 2014):
Fallen banana trees after a severe wind storm
As the Conference on Climate Change in Lima comes to an end, Secretary of State John Kerry urged the world to think about the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture. He reports that the changing climate will reduce the production capacity of crops such as rice, maize, or wheat by two percent each decade. (See remarks here). This means millions of farmers around the world may face greater threats of hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity. However, Kerry notes, “there is still time for us to come together as a global community...and every nation has a responsibility to do its part if we’re going to pass this test.

Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer program is taking strides to tackle climate change in the Dominican Republic. 

As a small island, the Dominican Republic is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. According to the Germanwatch 2014 Climate Risk Index, the Dominican Republic is the fourth most affected country in Latin America by weather events, as well as one of the top ten most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. The Dominican Republic is already experiencing the effects of sea level rise, warmer weather, and more frequent flooding. Another pressing concern is that climate change is negatively affecting the stability of the country’s water supply with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations. The country’s vulnerability level will continue increasing as climate change brings more floods, extreme storms, landslides, and droughts, along with slower climate change effects such as a rise in sea level, and a reduction in water quality and quantity.

Friday, December 12, 2014

American Football Thrives in Brazil

Originally published by Glideslope, a sports business advisory group working with Partners to provide strategic guidance in partnership development and furthering Partners' impact in the world of sport for development.

Forward by Jamie Rocha, GlideSlope

American football is not what comes top of my mind when I think of sport and Brazil – a country where football or “o jogo bonito” is literally translated to mean “the beautiful game.” However, after GlideSlope’s recent experience as host to Julio Adeodato, President of the Recife Mariners American football team, our eyes have been opened. Julio was with GlideSlope for the month of October as part of the U.S. State Department and Partners of the Americas “Brazil Sport for Community Exchange Program.” From his time in New York, Julio was able to learn from GlideSlope and industry friends about the business of sport and, in turn, teach us all how American football is growing in a country that has the world’s eyes on it heading into 2016.

Julio (right) and Jamie (second from right) meet with Deputy Assistant Secretary for 
Professional and Cultural Exchanges Mara Tekach on the final day of their fellowships
By Julio Adeodato, President, Recife Mariners

Although Brazil is known worldwide as a soccer country, it is American football that has garnered high ratings for ESPN, growing jersey sales, and has begun to proliferate throughout the country amongst players and fans. To understand the growth and evolution of the sport in Brazil, I look to my own experience as a founding player on one of the first American football teams in Northeast Brazil.

Photo credit: Recife Mariners
Less than a decade ago in Northeast Brazil, American football began to take shape when a group of young men, several of whom had experienced American football during exchange programs in the U.S., founded the Recife Mariners. With less than 20 players and no equipment, the Recife Mariners started playing on Boa Viagem Beach. Curiosity was followed by crowds and now, just seven years later, we play in front of nearly 3,000 fans each game. This puts the Recife Mariners attendance behind only the major, traditional soccer teams – and not by much. What’s even more interesting about the spread of American football in Brazil is that of the total player/fan population, only a small handful of players and fans have actually experienced American football in the U.S.

When we started, we faced an uphill battle: Brazilians who knew of American football viewed the sport as a difficult and violent game, lacking style and substance. However, similar to sports in the U.S., we began to build our image by focusing more on fan experience and engagement. Born out of of low budgets and the need to do more with less, we got more creative by bringing in mascots, cheerleaders and emerging musical bands to halftime shows. We actively gave back to the communities by participating in social awareness campaigns and helping to support local community needs. And in doing so, we captivated fans and provided them with a sport experience they had not been offered before through traditional Brazilian sports.