The Ekpapalek Project: finding oportunities for Latin American students abroad

ekpapalekenglishThe lack of resources (money and connections) to pursue dreams is one of the main obstacles that Latin American students have for progressing academically. Often, the desired course or internship abroad is inaccessible and turns into an unreachable dream because they do not have the means to support theirselves abroad. With this, opportunities for academic development are once again impeded.

I’ve been thinking about finding a solution to that problem and I thought that the my blog could go beyond just writing about tips and recommendations to seek opportunities abroad. Hence, today I decided to launch the Ekpapalek project which seeks to promote opportunities for Latin American students with low-income to do professional internships abroad.
I appeal to all people around the world and ask you to consider the initiative that I propose to you today. Would you be keen to contribute to the development of Latin American students, by hosting them at your home while they do a short internship in your city?.

For example, there are many couples who live in a house with empty rooms because their children have moved out…. then could it be that you would offer your time and space to host a Latin American student for a short while (1 to 3 months maximum) as they do internships at a university nearby? Another scenario: you and your friends are yourselves studying abroad, and know how beneficial it is to gain knowledge in another environment… would you be encouraged to offer up your couch for a month or two to a Latin American who also want to have that opportunity?

If at a citizen level we become aware and realize that we can individually promote change, we could achieve many things. By supporting university students we would increase the chances of improving their home countries through the promotion of science and technology. In this case, you would encourage and  support Latin American students to have the opportunity to learn in other countries and then to return to their respective countries full of ideas, collaborations and projects.

Imagine if each of us can help Latin American university students to become agents of change! Imagine that a Peruvian goes to Uruguay or that a Uruguayan goes to Finland or that a Guatemalan goes to Portugal while a Honduran goes to Australia. Your help will stimulate the creation of new and more fruitful partnerships between universities in Latin American and your own country.  Don’t you think we could help empower Latin America if instead of waiting for countries to make agreements we help ourselves and streamline the process by contributing our bit  What we all have to ask ourselves is:

 …..If not now, when? If not me, …. Who?

In short, the project aims to extend the hand of friendship and support to Latin American students through three different ways:

You can offer your home (your sofa, a room, a space in your home)
You can offer to share lunch, breakfast or dinner
You can make a mix of the two previously mentioned

What are the benefits of being a host?

You can meet new people coming from a different country and culture!
You will have the opportunity to learn how science is done in another country, you will generate academic connections between your own country and Latin America.
You contribute to the progress of a Latin American country and to the general progress of science and technology in the developing world.

– You will destroy social barriers that prevent students with few resources of having the opportunity to internationalize and develop academically.

Personal satisfaction of knowing that YOU are also an agent of change and progress.

From today until the end of December I’ll be compiling and making a database of people in different countries who share this idea and want to be part of the project (contact me if you want to be a host or contribute in some other way). Depending on how many people are keen to contribute, we could start with the first round of exchanges by July 2016.

This is just the beginning and I am more than happy to receive suggestions and comments (please send to my mail: would like that every awardee complements its internship with a course in gender equity and leadership as part of the exchange so I am keen to partner with other organizations that would like to give these lessons to each awardee.

The second part of this project, seeks for mentors that are keen to donate 1 hour of their time to have a 1 hour skype meeting with a Latin student. It will be a great experience and a boost for your CV. If interested please contact me.

The third part of the project will be recruiting different women that share their experiences at work with young girls and boys at public schools in different Latin countries. If you are ready to spend 15 minutes empowering Latins please let me know

Thanks a lot for your time and if you or your company are interested on sponsoring economically the project (meals or bus/flight tickets) please contact me! me and all the students will thank you lots for that!

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Ekpapalek is a word from an indigenous language in the jungle of Peru known as Shiwilu. It means to help a person walking . This verb is used to describe the way in which children are helped to walked when they start learning on how to do it, so you must move slowly helping him or her. Many of us have learned to walk in that way but in Shiwilu language we have a word that describes this action.

Any artist/cartoonist that would like to support me by doing a logo for the project? It would be great, thanks!


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