Young Leaders Innovating for the Reinvention of an Agricultural Sustainable Region
Universidad de La Salle, along with its U.S. partner New Mexico State University, implemented their faculty-led program, which enabled a group of four (4) Agricultural Engineering students and two (2) faculty members from La Salle and four (4) Plant and Environmental Sciences students and three (3) faculty from NMSU [4/4 proposed] to study and go on field visits at the partner university. For two weeks, U.S. students visited La Salle’s Utopia Project in Yopal as well as the main campus in Bogotá, where they learned about trends and challenges to Colombian agriculture, especially the effects of drought on the local farmland. They also visited the fields managed by La Salle students to see the crops (pineapple, passion fruit, banana, and coffee) cultivated by them and the local water sources that could potentially supply Utopia’s future irrigation system, a priority project of the institution. Through the exchanges, both sides collaborated to address the effects of drought on crops managed by La Salle students enrolled in the Agricultural Engineering Program and whose graduation projects depend on the sustainability of their projects. In return, La Salle students traveled to New Mexico for two weeks. There, they visited NMSU’s research centers and fields, where they learned about flood irrigation, shrimp production, and saw how to work with various crops (e.g. pecans, chili, and onions).
Another unique aspect of La Salle’s program was that it was the first time any of the four NMSU students had traveled to South America and also the first time that four of the La Salle students had traveled to the U.S. Additionally, those from La Salle are from areas that suffer from the conflict in Colombia. Overall, this program provided students and faculty with a rich, immersive cultural experience as well as an academic experience that allowed them to create personal connections with their counterparts, and to share knowledge through the different activities, visits, and presentations. Both La Salle and NMSU hope to continue their partnership and would like to focus on how they can make their collaboration long-lasting.