Pallqa, a Mobility Program that Collaborates with Local Communities Worldwide
This Program for Cooperation and Leadership in an International Context made its debut during the summer of 2022. Three UC Chile students went to Cuyo Grande (Cusco, Peru) to take part in different activities. One of them shares his experience below.
Pallqa, which is pronounced padzca, means a place where several roads meet or cross.
This Aymara word is the name chosen for this new UC Chile mobility program, as it symbolizes its objective:
To have a meeting point where UC Chile undergraduate or master students, partner organizations, and local communities in different regions of the world can share their views and build common perspectives, exchanging innovative ideas that contribute to local development and a shared home.
The Pallqa Program was born after the “mobility redesign” process promoted by:
- The Global Mobility Department
- The student leadership area of the Office of Student Affairs (DAE)
- The UC Chile Office of Campus Ministry and Christian Culture (Pastoral)
The group redesigned the exchange programs’ focus—in line with the UC Chile Development Plan 2020-2025— to offer new mobility options for UC Chile students. The objective was to strengthen the UC Chile graduate profile by focusing on the development of global competencies.
Thus, Pallqa was born.
Cristián Díaz, Office of the Vice President for International Affairs’s Director of Global Mobility (VRAI, as per its Spanish acronym), describes it as a program to “…enhance commitment and leadership for a global society through learning and the exchange of knowledge and know-how.”
The university decided that undergraduate students (third year and above) and master’s degree students could participate.
The program allows one or more students to travel to another country during the school break to learn about and value their strengths and skills beyond academics.
The first Pallqa program was carried out during the summer of 2022, in partnership with the Peruvian organization ATD Fourth World from Cuyo Grande (Peru). The non-profit organization is an international driving force for a movement and cultural change in the fight against poverty.
Cristián Fernández—a student from the Master of Arts in Music program—was among the three students who were selected.
His decision to apply was motivated by his personal experience with the Cusquenian culture, as he had worked as a musician in an association of Peruvian and Cusquenian residents in Santiago.
“They share their worldview with me, their customs, traditions and that motivated me to travel to the region. The Pallqa program was an opportunity for me to return to this place that I remembered so fondly and continue creating bonds with the people who live there,” he explained.
In the rural village of Cuyo Grande—located 50 kilometers from Cusco, inside the district of Pisac— Cristián and UC Chile students Macarena Pérez and Agustín Valenzuela participated in two activities: the organization of the Knowledge Festival and the street libraries.
The festival featured a series of artistic activities that were prepared according to the interests of the children living in Percca, Yauripampa, and Cuyo Grande.
The street libraries were an initiative to promote children's reading in open spaces.
There were also moments of entertainment to spend time with the local people and to get to know the members of ATD Fourth World better.
“Everything was very warm and friendly. We were even able to support a permanent volunteer during the last stage of her pregnancy, which added a very warm and human energy to the whole experience.”
–Do you think the experience will help you in your professional and academic future?
“I don’t think I can reduce this experience to professional contribution, because learning cuts across all aspects of our lives. You learn to relate to people from other socio-cultural contexts. You learn from them and with them. Furthermore, you learn to see them as equals and not in a condescending way (something that sometimes happens in intervention programs).
In the case of a rural community like Cuyo Grande, you learn about tools to work the land, understand the environment and nature, and the relationship with other ways of life from what the locals teach you. I think that's the beauty of Pallqa, it is an experience that fosters personal growth in areas that the system traditionally does not value."
New Calls for 2023
In 2023, more than 15 students are expected to work on cooperative projects with partner organizations, such as Voices (Guyana), ATD Fourth World (Peru), Techo (Colombia) and Sagoe Foundation (Indonesia).
“The selected students will complement their knowledge and values with the partner organization, which will generate an experiential learning process,” explained Caterina Labrín, Global Mobility manager for the Ibero-America area.
The 4-week experiences in Pallqa Voices Guyana; ATD Fourth World Peru and Sagoe Indonesia Foundation, will take place between January and February 2023.
For Palla Techo Colombia, the program will be extended for one semester and will be carried out during the first six months of 2023.