Quinnipiac University

Faculty travel to Guatemala to celebrate, hone partnerships

September 12, 2022

A group of faculty members in Guatemala

A group of Quinnipiac faculty recently traveled to Guatemala in a continued partnership defined by academic and civic engagement.

Director of Global Learning, Department of Cultural and Global Engagement Erin Sabato; Director of International Student Services Sarah Driscoll; Associate Director of Global Public Health and Experiential Learning Amy Bellman Davis; Associate Professor of Medical Sciences and Director of Anatomy Maureen Helgren; and Professor of Biological Sciences and Academic Coordinator of Experiential Learning Courtney McGinnis visited Guatemala to connect with current partners and explore new development opportunities.

The visit coincided with the 30th anniversary of Rigoberta Menchú Tum’s recognition as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Menchu is the only indigenous woman to receive the honor, said Sabato.

Quinnipiac works with her Fundación Rigoberta Menchú Tum, and faculty were invited to the presidential palace to celebrate Menchu and her important work promoting civil rights in her country and across the world.

“It speaks to the depth of this partnership that we are seen as allies. When Menchu spoke of the work she does, she said how it is dependent on allies, strategic partners and folks who stand in solidarity with the next generation of learners and educators. As she was speaking, she said that Quinnipiac represents both,” said Sabato.

The university began a collaboration with the Fundación Rigoberta Menchú Tum and its school in 2008.

“We work to be strong partners of the work they’re doing, educating students and teaching them about what the foundation does, exploring the global challenges that Guatemalans and others are confronting,” she said.  “Together we are equipping students with tools to be leaders that impact and change in a positive way.”

Quinnipiac also partners with the Centro Educativo Pavarotti, a Guatemalan junior high school.

“There is a three-prong approach to our work in Guatemala: Encouraging civic engagements and participation through political advocacy and helping citizens learn about rights and registering to vote; human rights; and education,” said Sabato. “The education arm is facilitated by the Pavarotti educational center. We travel to Guatemala with physical occupational therapy students; there is an educational solidarity program made up of all majors, including law and biology students.”

Quinnipiac faculty also attended a women’s United Nations meeting and met with William Popp, the American Ambassador to Guatemala.

Though travel was stunted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sabato said the partnership between Quinnipiac and Guatemalan entities was further solidified in the past few years.

“With these organizations, we were more committed than ever. We collaborated to find very clear strategies and to work together. Our communication improved, as when we couldn’t physically be together, we had to refocus our goals a bit,” said Sabato. “We have a path to how we’re moving forward together, goals for how we can educate ourselves, commit to lifelong learning and work together to improve our societies.“

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