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South-South Cooperation: UC Chile Professors Collaborate in Projects with Brazilian, Chadian, and Kenyan Institutions

Four UC Chile faculty members participated in their first field missions, benefiting communities in Africa and Latin America. These endeavors were made possible by a mobility grant provided by the Office of the Vice President of International Affairs in partnership with Santander Bank.

One doctor looks at her computer, while another checks on a child who is in the arms of his mother.

The Office of the Vice President for International Affairs (VRAI, as per its Spanish acronym) and Santander Bank offered four UC Chile professors the opportunity to strengthen academic and research cooperation ties with institutions in Brazil, Chad, and Kenya.

Under the "Santander Teacher Mobility Program" scholarship, this initiative aims to promote South-South cooperation activities in the host communities for the first time by upgrading their expertise and teaching new techniques and methodologies.

This internationalization opportunity, with a particular emphasis on initiatives in Africa and Latin America, provides UC Chile academics the chance to engage in global collaborative projects. Furthermore, they contribute their expertise to territorial and technological advancement, as well as the cultivation of advanced human capital.

South-South cooperation is defined by the United Nations as "a manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South that contributes to their national well-being, their national and collective self-reliance and the attainment of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

The four professors who benefited from the scholarship submitted projects linked to one of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and focused on promoting the development of institutions.

Kenya: Food Security and Rehabilitation of Children with Disabilities

Professor José Luis Riveros and a man checking on vegetables.

Among the professors who participated is José Luis Riveros, who during the first semester of 2023 collaborated in the field of food security with the Orione Community Training Center—with whom UC Chile signed a framework agreement in April 2022—on the outskirts of the city of Nairobi and in the rural community of the Masai tribe located 200 kms from the center. 

He also participated in a visit led by the Vice President of International Affairs, Lilian Ferrer, at the end of 2021 to Chad and has previously worked on issues related to food security and family economy in Mozambique.

Riveros is leading a project to strengthen the Orione Community Training Center through agricultural production training, with the aim of promoting food security and family economy through diet diversification and the transfer of socially appropriate technologies to local communities in rural Nairobi. 

Professor Ricardo Campos posing for the photo with the rehabilitation staff.

Professor Ricardo Campos, kinesiologist and neuro physical therapist of the UC Chile Health Sciences Department, also joined this project and worked on a diagnosis to support the rehabilitation staff in the care of children with disabilities.

The Center strives to defend the rights and make visible the value of people with disabilities in their communities and areas of work. Professor Campos joined the center's team during the first semester of this year.

The UC Chile health professional participated in the training of rehabilitation teams, passing on new knowledge and strengthening the collaborative and interdisciplinary role in the ways of working with children with disabilities.

Both professionals have appreciated the experience and wish to continue contributing to the Kenyan communities with the continuity of this project and the historical partnership of UC Chile with the country.

Chad: Education and Health Campaigns

Kids in a classroom in Chad.

PhD. Maili Ow, from the Faculty of Education, is another faculty member who was awarded this scholarship. Similar to Professor Riveros, she boasts extensive experience collaborating with organizations and initiatives connected to the African continent. She played a pivotal role in establishing a library, equipped with books donated by Chilean publishers, at a kindergarten run by the Catholic congregation Misioneras de Cristo Jesus. Additionally, she was instrumental in compiling a book titled "Chad and Chile: Words That Cross Borders." This bilingual publication in Spanish and French unites over 60 stories, tales, poems, and photographs contributed by children and adults from both nations, fostering a sense of connection. 

The project consists of health education campaigns–spearheaded by Dr. Ibrahim Makkai of Mongo Hospital (Chad) and Professor Ow–incorporating research elements to support nomadic families moving through the nearby regions of the city. 

The goal is to provide health and educational guidelines that are respectful of their customs and culture, enabling boys and girls to develop in a healthy and well-balanced manner. This involves working closely with five family clans in Mongo, conducting visits for child health check-ups, and organizing activities to encourage and motivate participation in the educational process.

According to Ow, this scholarship is poised to enable her not only to delve further into and broaden the university's international collaboration efforts in education and health domains but it also serves as recognition on both national and international fronts, facilitated by Santander Bank. It underscores the significance of cross-border cooperation, especially the Latin America-Africa partnership.

Mariana Zeballos, a student at UC Chile Education, participated in the project thanks to the Pallqa Cooperation and Leadership program of the UC Chile Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.

During January and February, the student engaged in her internship in the African nation, concentrating on elevating the education of children and youth with a distinct emphasis on natural sciences. Her participation was part of the community project that Ow developed.

Next Semester: Strengthening Statistical Models to Prevent Suicides in Brazil and Chile

Alejandra Tapia, a professor from the UC Chile Faculty of Mathematics, will promote a project to determine the different risk factors related to suicidal behavior by proposing more adequate and precise statistical methodologies in the area of categorical data analysis. 

This is a joint project between UC Chile and the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics of the University of São Paulo (IME/USP) in Brazil, which will seek a better understanding of this phenomenon.

The goal is to address issues or complications with data that frequently arise in real-world situations, which standard models do not consider, in order to prevent highly biased results and achieve reliable outcomes. This is intended to support data-based decision-making and the implementation of effective suicide prevention programs and public policies. 

This opportunity is crucial for strengthening research connections among important regional institutions, particularly during challenging times for statistical research within our country. Here, there is a scarcity of academics dedicated to this field," Tapia remarked. She anticipates that this mobility initiative will pave the way for interdisciplinary research aimed at addressing global issues like suicidal behavior.

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