Several weeks ago, seven women from the Universidad Tecnica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca (Technical University of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca) in rural Oaxaca, Mexico visited Portland State as a capstone to a leadership development course they took through the University Center for Women’s Leadership at UTVCO. The students are all business development majors.
Eighteen faculty members at UTVCO also visited PSU in order to study the university’s strategic plan.
Mandy Elder, graduate student in Anthropology and Public Administration and co-director of the UCWL at UTVCO, and Jack Corbett, an associate professor of Public Administration, facilitated the visit. Elder, along with Nydia Mata Sánchez, the director of outreach and international programs at UTVCO, helped create UTVCO’s UCWL after working with the university for about four years.
“This [trip] is the capstone of their experience,” Elder said. “I planned a whole week of activities for them, a whole week of talks with different community organizations, different places on campus like the Center for Women’s Leadership [and] the Women’s Resource Center.”
The women traveled to Hood River to visit an organization called Nuestra Comunidad Sana. Elder said they met with PSU’s chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MECHA) and with Andrea Cano, a commissioner on the Commission for Hispanic Affairs. They also volunteered at Potluck in the Park.
“[We’ve addressed] the impact these organizations have, not only on broader culture but on the Latino community,” Elder translated for Mariana Alicia Lorenzo Calvo, one of the visiting women.
Two women said Potluck in the Park was the most beneficial activity they participated in.
“I’ve seen really cool changes in, maybe more than anything, their ability to articulate about themselves,” Elder said.
“This is a recent outgrowth of a relationship that goes back almost 20 years,” Corbett said.
Corbett said PSU has “one of the most extensive programs of contact with any Mexican state of any university in the entire country.”
Elder said that, though this is the first time UTVCO has sent students to PSU through the UCWL, she and Corbett hope to continue this program.
Every December, Corbett takes students to Oaxaca for two weeks as part of a four-credit course. He said the plan for this coming fall term’s trip is to build upon the work Elder has done with UTVCO.
“We’re hoping that in December, we’ll be able to have students go…build a more intensive involvement with [UTVCO],” Corbett said.
Ten students, according to Corbett, who are either PSU students or have been to Oaxaca through PSU, have gone on to win Fulbright scholarships to study in Mexico.
“[I want] to encourage other PSU students to pursue international opportunities,” Elder said. “Everybody receives some kind of benefit from whatever program or activity or project you’re working on…This is just one piece of one thing that’s happening, and it’s part of a much larger project having an impact on people’s lives,” she continued.
More information about the program is available in Spanish at Facebook.com/mujerutvco.