Over 100 volunteers from the Rotary Clubs from Jaltemba La Peñita, Mexico and Berkeley, California, USA along with 25 participating North American Rotary Clubs have arrived in Nayarit to begin a month-long project to remodel La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre in Las Varas, Mexico. Upgrades will include three new laboratories: chemistry, computer, and culinary arts. Volunteers will work shoulder-to-shoulder with parents, teachers and students.

Planning began two years ago, as all parties concerned came together to address the actual needs of the students and community. As a result, a viable cultural exchange developed that has bridged continents and built a great deal of goodwill. The completed project will provide educational opportunities for both students and adults in the community who can make use of all three new laboratories to improve their skills, thus increasing job growth and economic development.

Pancho & Salamanca

The Planning Team from North America met on Friday, April 18, 2015 with the teachers at La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre to hear a presentation given by Yolanda Rodriguez Arellano, Development Manager of UNETE, a professional teacher development organization from Mexico City. UNETE (Union of Entrepreneurs for Technology in Education) has been working to improve the quality and equity of education in Mexico for the past fifteen years with the objective of closing the competitiveness gap between Mexico and more developed countries. UNETE believes that this challenge cannot be solely the responsibility of government. When business reaches out to help students achieve a better education, society benefits in the long-term.

Arellano’s presentation covered the scope of the professional development program that UNETE can implement at La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre. She began by engaging all the teachers in the room to introduce themselves and state their field of expertise. Arellano then illustrated how UNETE could build a collaborative approach to develop a broader base of knowledge from the teachers’ varied fields to create practical applications for learning through a greater use of technology.

UNETE supports a variety of courses and works with leading technological educators such as the Khan Academy to ensure a top quality program. They also maintain relationships with educators on an international level to share best practices, such as the successful school system in Finland.

Response from the teachers at La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre was positive as shown by their thoughtful questions afterward and the time spent with Arellano at the computer as she demonstrated how UNETE can work with La Preparatoria 20 de Noviembre.

Rotary International brings together leaders from all continents, cultures, and occupations who step forward to create positive change at home and abroad.

by Susana Connors