Change & Innovation

Our impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, Part 3: Expanding educational opportunities for gifted, innovative students in Peru

Sheyla Blumen (Peru ’11)

The year before Sheyla Blumen (Peru ’11) left for her fellowship in the U.S., Peru only had one school that served the needs of highly gifted students throughout the entire country. In less than a decade, Sheyla has influenced public policy in her country so that gifted children from rural poverty conditions can learn from attending one of the 25 schools serving a total of 8,000 students now in place. Through her foundation, Mente Futura (translated as Future Minds), she is able to work directly with gifted learners from vulnerable conditions and their families and provide emotional support, creativity, skills and talent development. 

Mente Futura is one of three recognized Associated Talent Centers of the European Council for High Ability in Latin America. Mente Futura is leading the way to bringing high quality educational opportunities for gifted young people throughout not only Peru, but the continent.

Sheyla talks about the ripple effect that investing in these particularly gifted students has on their communities. “They think about how to improve the living conditions of their own towns, their home towns. Many of them go back and never disconnect from their families…because family is very important here in Peru.” The students go on to study medicine, engineering and science, and think about ways to go home and increase living conditions for their families and loved ones living in poverty.

Sheyla believes that “education is the best tool to transform civilization,” and we see that through the investment in the gifted students. Her efforts have given her the recognition needed to become a general member of the International Association of Applied Psychology, one of the oldest associations in the world dedicated to psychology. She is the first and only Peruvian member to be elected. She is also a professor of psychology at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Finding her voice as a woman in a patriarchal society was no easy feat, but she overcame this challenge thanks to the people she met while on fellowship. The greatest lesson she learned was how to “convince people to do what has to be done. Not for me, but for my country. I have a voice, and I need to use it.”

Sheyla persisted with her advocacy for gifted children through three different federal government administrations that wanted to shut down the schools, but instead influenced them to build ten more each time, overturning the criticism that the schools were seen as a service for the elite and against national egalitarian efforts. She was able to convince those in charge that every child deserves to reach their potential, and the answer isn’t to hold people back from learning, but to give them an opportunity to do so.

Now her objective is to expand this across her country to rural areas and across the Latin American and Caribbean region. Listen below for her story.

Fellows from Peru at the home of Sheyla Blumen (Peru ’11) in February 2019. Sheyla, featured in the center, stands with George de Lama, Eisenhower Fellowships’ President on the right.
Change & Innovation, Prosperity

Our impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, Part 2

Eloy Oliveira (Brazil ’19)

Strengthening the public sector in Brazil

Brazil has more than 12 million civil servants. According to a 2017 research study, Brazil is the world’s second least satisfied country regarding the quality of public service. In spite of this, the Brazilian Government has no assessments or data regarding its civil service engagement, and does not consider this problem to be part of the public agenda.

Eisenhower Fellow Eloy Oliveira (Brazil ’19), CEO of Instituto República, an organization focused on promoting professional development within Brazil’s public-service sector, will develop a workplace assessment survey to diagnose issues within the public sector and provide valuable insights about current engagement of civil servants. The ultimate aim is to improve the quality of the country’s civil service and the service delivered to citizens.

Prior to starting his fellowship, Eloy initiated a collaboration with the Office of Personal Management at the Brazilian Federal Government to discuss the possible implementation of this new workplace assessment tool. Eloy shared early findings with them during his fellowship and has already started refining the plan to get the first survey up and running. He also involved scholars and experts in the discussion. The idea is to start with the Brazilian Federal Government, which has 1.2 million civil servants and could directly impact the lives of the over 200 million inhabitants of Brazil. He plans to launch the first survey later this year and expects to process its results within the next 12 months.


Changing the innovation landscape in Latin America

Bruno Rondani (Brazil ’13), CEO of 100 Open Startups, is masterfully changing the innovation landscape in Latin America through the platform he created, 100 Open Startups. As an accomplished engineer and entrepreneur, Bruno had started and already sold his company by the time he became an Eisenhower Fellow. What he took away from his experience was the knowledge and vision that helped him to try something completely new: scale up his startup know-how and expand it so that many, many others could benefit as well.

Bruno Rondani (featured at the far right) is a 2013 Fellow from Brazil.

The new platform he created brings together entrepreneurs, universities, large multi-national corporations and investors so that startups can be evaluated and ranked by leading corporate executives and matched with appropriate partners. Often, corporations might be looking for innovative solutions that entrepreneurs have already created, and just need to be connected. Some of the problems that need solving are broad and have included public services, healthcare and well being, sports, retail, energy and future of education to name a few.

Based in São Paulo, Bruno expanded his platform to nine other cities in Brazil and has expanded to Bogota, Lima, Santiago and Mexico City. His goal is always to first connect those who are in the same city and then he helps connect cities with other cities for cross-pollination. The ripple effect of innovation can be felt all the way to Miami, the gateway to Latin America where he operates a U.S. hub.

With success of this model in his region of the world, Bruno is also piloting the model in Bangalore, India, where he says the city is similar to São Paulo, including the number of universities, investors and entrepreneurs. The aim is to eventually take 100 Open Startups across the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Listen to Bruno tell his story below.


Mama River: Strengthening and expanding the work of community health advocates in rural areas across Peru

Magaly Blas (Peru ’18), Director of the Mama River Program at Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University, trains community health advocates to work in remote areas along the Amazon River with an emphasis on newborn and maternal care. The Mama River Program is a health outreach program that uses smartphone technology to deliver educational content and documents and that monitors vital records and health statistics of pregnant women and newborns residing in remote rural areas of the Amazon region of Peru. In the program’s first year, Mama River workers brought community education videos and safe birth delivery kits to 799 women of childbearing age in 13 riverine communities. In 2016, she received the Elsevier Foundation Award for “early career women scientists in the developing world.” While on Fellowship, Magaly expanded on the creation of a Mama River Program spin-off called Ikara: Innovation and knowledge to improve health.” Her goal is to scale-up Mama River so it can be deployed more widely, including in the border area between Peru and Colombia, where a common interest in improving health could spark a better relationship between the countries.

The program also enhances access to health care and other social services for these under-served communities. Within the three years after completion of Magaly’s fellowship, Mama River will have diversified sources of revenue by testing these four models of sustainability identified during fellowship meetings:

  • Adoption of the program by the government (Ministry of Health and regional governments)
  • Adoption of the program by companies working in rural areas (e.g. extraction companies working in the Amazon or Andes)
  • Creation of a social enterprise that will allow generation of program revenue
  • Application to private funders that may include: grants, charity donations, crowdsource funding, sponsorship models, corporate social responsibility, and endowment.
Change & Innovation, Justice

Our impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, Part 1

In fall 2019, EF will host the first regional program dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean in more than ten years. Before these 23 new Fellows arrive, get to know just a few of the 257 Eisenhower Fellows living in Latin America and the Caribbean and learn what they are doing in their communities to make a difference.

Laura Alonso (Argentina ’08)

Government watchdog for anti-corruption in Argentina

A former head of the Argentinian chapter of the global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International, Laura Alonso (Argentina ’08) was appointed to the lead Argentina’s anti-corruption office in 2015 by President Mauricio Macri. He also encouraged her to run for a seat in the country’s House of Representatives, which she won in 2009. While serving as a watchdog at home, Laura represents Argentina on global anti-corruption initiatives at meetings of the G20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development.

Listen to Laura tell her story below.

Laura Alonso (Argentina ’08) featured above center.

Advancing economic opportunities for Jamaican youth through music education, emphasizing reggae as a national asset

Imani Duncan-Price (Jamaica ’18) featured with a local teacher who attended the train-the-trainer workshop.

Employing new technology and artificial intelligence, Imani Duncan-Price (Jamaica ’18) leveraged a Jamaican cultural treasure and partnered with MusicQuest, a software app that allows students to create original songs using the computerized sounds of more than 40 instruments. Leading the company’s pilot program in Jamaica, she brought it to 1,100 students in five schools, trained 22 teachers in the technology and anticipates expanding to one-fifth of the nation’s schools over the next three years.

Featured (L-R, front row): G. Nagesh Rao (USA ’17), Imani Duncan-Price (Jamaica ’18), Yasmine Abdel-Razek (Egypt ’18), Jerry Kuo (Chinese Taipei ’18). (L-R, back row): Jack Bienko (USA ’16) and Temitayo Etomi (Nigeria ’18).

University leader got his start as scientist and museum director

Marcelo Knobel (Brazil ’07) is the rector of Universidade de Campinas.

Marcelo Knobel (Brazil ’07) is the rector at the Universidade de Campinas in Brazil. Just 12 years ago, he came to the United States on his Eisenhower Fellowship to think about ways to grow the museum he directed at the time, which focused on science and science education, into something bigger and more impactful. He now leads one of the consistently top-ranked universities in Brazil and Latin America. Unicamp is responsible for 15% of Brazil’s research and is a publicly-funded university offering tuition free undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Listen below for his story.

Justice, Peace

Thirty years in the making: keeping the peace on the Island of Ireland

Securing and preserving the peace between the governments of Northern Ireland and the Ireland Republic (Fellows and their spouses from the 1989 Island of Ireland program)

2019 marks 30 years since EF’s historic Single-Area Program brought together Fellows from Ireland’s North and South. Choosing cross-community conciliation in a divided society, they played key roles in the negotiations that produced the Good Friday Agreement and the efforts to preserve the peace on the Island of Ireland since then.

Watch pioneers from the Good Friday Agreement and Eisenhower Fellows from the 1989 Island of Ireland program share their story here.

Northern Ireland Fellow Tom Frawley (’89) shares his life lessons learned and how he made an impact after his Eisenhower Fellowship here in an interview conducted by Eisenhower Fellow Rabia Garib (Pakistan ’07).

2019 Island of Ireland Fellows while on fellowship in the U.S.

Listen to 2019 Northern Ireland Fellows experts Katy Hayward and Stephen Rusk discuss what Brexit means for Northern Ireland in this podcast conducted by our partners at Knowledge@Wharton.

Read Trudy Rubin’s article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on how Eisenhower Fellows were involved in building the Good Friday Agreement.

Prosperity

Economist increasing global connections and growth for the heart of North America

El Paso, Texas

Patrick meeting with the Shanghai International Shipping Institute during his fellowship to China in 2018.

An economist specializing in international trade and leading a university-based research center, Patrick Schaefer (USA/Zhi-Xing ’18) forged a partnership with China’s premier government think tank, the Shanghai International Shipping Institute. Patrick’s center — the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas, El Paso — produced research for the Shipping Institute that put the bi-national Paso del Norte region (which includes Texas, New Mexico and northern regions in Mexico) on the map as a major influential trade hub that is significantly impacted by recent trade wars between China and the U.S. The data will be used by local, state and federal decision-makers who are at the helm of opening opportunities that will strengthen economic growth in the U.S. and China.

Every morning, Patrick watches the shipping containers from Chinese and other Asian companies pass by his office window on the Union Pacific rail lines. With nearly 48% of all import products arriving at the Los Angeles port coming from China, this lion’s share of goods eventually makes its way into the rest of North America by passing through the Paso del Norte region. This hub represents connection points between the U.S. and Mexico and between the east and west coasts of the U.S., and has historically been a point of convergence for many people of different backgrounds, continuing through today’s times. A border town of recent U.S. news spotlight, El Paso in particular prides itself on being a city where two different cultures, languages and ways of life can live in easeful confluence.

Maritime trade routes between Asia and the U.S.

How do these cultural lessons influence international trade agreements and relationships?

With cultural knowledge and awareness of how to effectively and respectfully approach a foreign government, Patrick came prepared to hit the ground running in China. Before arriving in China, his center produced a report that analyzed U.S.-China maritime trade flows, and had it translated into Chinese. With the Chinese version of the report in hand, Patrick successfully convinced the Shanghai International Shipping Institute to consider a partnership or agreement with his center. The result was the commissioning of a follow-up report that shows the specific effects of recent U.S.-China trade policies and tariffs.

This relationship with China brings a new dimension to his work at the university that goes beyond bi-nationalism. Patrick has not only exposed China to the importance of the Paso Del Norte region, but he has brought China to El Paso, including to the students that he works with at the university, lawmakers and government administrators. The ultimate goal is to use data to “break away from isolation” and help “distant parties to learn about each other,” according to Patrick.

Patrick piloting a vessel simulator into the Port of Hong Kong at the Shanghai Maritime University
Patrick with his China-based Program Coordinator, Li Dong

Learn more about the importance of the Paso del Norte region here through Patrick’s TED talk.

Watch Patrick in action with counterparts in Beijing and Shanghai while on his #EFjourney.