Latin American Teacher Exchange alumni gather in Colombia

Nearly 100 teacher exchange alumni from across Latin America gathered in Bogotá, Colombia for an alumni conference from January 31, 2024 to February 4, 2024. These alumni represented three different teacher exchange programs spanning across 15 years.  

Hailing from 16 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela), attendees connected on empowering students to take active roles in building a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. 

Representatives from the Ministry of Education of Colombia and the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá provided welcome remarks. Alumni heard from Luis Armando Soto Boutin, Director for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Education and Carolyn Turpin, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. 

Throughout the five-day conference, alumni participated in sessions covering climate education, media literacy, civic engagement, teacher leadership, integrating technology in the classroom, and gender equality. Alumni had the opportunity to serve as panelists and share more about their work in these areas and how they have had an impact in their schools and communities. 

“I am grateful for the friendships I have made, the knowledge I have gained, and the memories I have created. I hope to visit again soon and continue this wonderful journey of learning and sharing.” - Veronica M., Argentina 

Alumni heard from the following subject matter experts and alumni from other U.S. Government-funded exchange programs: 

• Charles G. Zartman, Jr., PhD, Professor and Director of the Center for Bilingual/Multicultural Studies, California State University Chico 

• Andrés Sáenz Peñas, alum of the U.S. Department of State-funded Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and Co-Founder, CIVIX Colombia, a youth civic engagement organization 

• Daniela Zuluaga Gaviria, alum of the U.S. Department of State-funded Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and Founder and General Manager of Sentido Verde, a consulting organization focusing on communication and environmental education 

• Sherri Hope Culver, Fulbright Scholar and Director of the Center for Media and Information Literacy (CMIL) and Associate Professor, Temple University 

• Nataly Navarro, alum of the U.S. Department of State-funded Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) and Educator, Fundación Magic World School, a nonprofit organization that supports vulnerable populations such as immigrants and refugees 

Other notable speakers included: 

• William S. Little, Regional English Language Officer (RELO) Panama, Central America and the Caribbean U.S. Embassy in Panama 

• Juan Carlos Rivera, Regional English Language Assistant Central America and the Caribbean U.S. Embassy in Panama 

A tour of the historic city center and visit to the Monserrate allowed alumni to experience the culture of Colombia. Alumni also had the opportunity to showcase their home countries through traditional attire, performances, food, and music. 

“This has been an amazing opportunity to share with teachers around Latin America. I can say that after this event, I have enriched my initiatives and professional projects.” - Sandra H., Colombia 

“Words can't express the feeling my entire body feels. Thanks Fulbright Teacher Exchanges and the U.S. Embassy Costa Rica for this opportunity and let education rock the world.” - Francisco F., Costa Rica