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UNORCAC/ASEAC Scholarship Program in Cotacachi

UNORCAC/ASEAC Scholarship Program in Cotacachi

“It’s just a dream,” says Carlos Alta, president of the teachers’ association, “but I think we can complete it.”  He wants to be able to grant scholarships to 100 deserving high school students next year.  And he will probably realize this dream.  Only about 30% of the indigenous children in Cotacachi get an education past the sixth grade.

The scholarship program is only three years old. The first year it assisted 10 students. Supported by an organization of  20 local teachers, UNORCAC, which is the local indigenous group, and funds from a Chicago group, the scholarship program is going strong, but they need more help. Kenji Tabery is the acting coordinator of the program.

Carlos Alta wants to accomplish several things with the scholarship program, other than help high school students be able to finish high school.
1.  Preserve the cultural indigenous identity
2.  Foster intercultural activities.  Right now there is a pen pal exchange with students in the United States.
3.  Form local ecological clubs to address water, trash and environmental issues and bring awareness of these issues to local, national and international attention
4.  Form directives for social issues and create social activist groups

But most of all, Alta says, “My vision for this program is to form leaders and leadership workshops. We will sign up students today.”

Pro-Ecuador was invited to the annual scholarship program, where 28 of this year’s 30 scholarship recipients were present, along with their parents and the sponsoring teachers.  The program lasted several hours, during which Carlos Alta laid out the program goals and directives.

Gary

Gary presented $200 to Alta on behalf of Euni, a Canadian, to sponsor one high school student for one year.  Gary told him that the local expats are very interested in the program and happy to be able to participate in the furtherance of education in Cotacachi.  Our website will put the word out about the program so donors can contribute.  Carlos passed the money on to one of the teachers, telling us that the money would be used 100% for the student.

kids

Alto brought the 28 students to the front of the room and they formed a long line.  One by one they introduced themselves and named the village they are from.   There were kids from La Calera, Azaya, San Pedro, Chilcabamba, and many other nearby towns.

A number of people took turns standing up and speaking.  The sister of one scholarship recipient told the audience that she and her older siblings didn’t get to go to high school at all. She is so grateful that her younger brother has this chance to go to school and get an education, a good-paying job.

Caroline Bloodworth from Virginia and her husband Orburn went with us to the program.  He said, “This gives us an opportunity to open our hearts, so we thank them for the chance to help.”  Caroline said that perhaps her grandchildren back in the states could talk to their classes about raising money for the scholarship program.

Her granddaughter is graduating from high school this year.  Her homeroom adopted a charity, Heifer International, and raised money for it.

There are many ways that cultural interchange can take place between North American and South American students.  We can organize exchange programs so that students can visit each other’s countries and do volunteer work.

North Americans can learn much about the culture, work ethic and farming methods practiced in Cotacachi.  Treating both sides as equals with something of value to be learned from either side of the world will go far in boosting the self esteem of students here, rather than treating them as charity cases.

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One Comment

  1. Phil Bowman says:

    My wife (Sandy) and I will be retiring and moving to Ecuador in 2011. We will first move to Cotacochi but may eventually reside in Cuenca.

    I work for the U.S. Geological Survey as a geologist/hydrologist, and for the past 22 years have been studying environmental issues surrounding surface water and groundwater. I hope when we move that I can use my educational skills to help Ecuador with either geological or hydrological (surface water or groundwater) issues or teach either of these subjects. I have a Masters of Science Degree. I also teach technical writing, and review and edit scientific reports. Perhaps I could be of assistance helping those who are going to college the art of technical writing?

    I don’t know if I can be of assistance to your program or to Ecuador but I thought I would contact you. This would be completely voluntary work on my part, I seek no compensation. I have no idea who I can contact. If I am going to live in Ecuador I would like to help Ecuador in any manner that I can during my retirement.

    My Spanish at the moment is limited but I am working on it. I plan to enroll in classes the moment we get to Ecuador and continue in classes until I am proficient with the language.

    If you would like more information about me or know of someone I might contact that might use my services I would greatly appreciate it.

    Regards,
    Phil Bowman
    Geologist/Hydrologist
    U.S. Geological Survey
    New Mexico Water Science Center
    5338 Montgomery Blvd., NE
    Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110

    pbowman@usgs.gov
    winterset1964@aol.com