“The first week of the SUSI program has been impactful for us, it’s the opportunity to learn the tools for improving our local communities while meeting people of widely different backgrounds, students and instructors alike, people we have come to value as the program went on, and whose accomplishments are inspiring. The social component of the program was highlighted by all the members of our group, as well as the possibility it gave us to understand multiple points of view about a wide range of relevant topics and discussions.
According to Francisca Ortiz (Chile), “the social component in learning is fundamental”. She also emphasized how the interactive way of the work surprised her about the program. “I am hopeful we can create an NGO or a project to help our communities”, Francisca said. Moreover, she mentioned some of the first week lectures, “my favorite class was the inter-institute session with Jadwiga, ‘The Roots of Patriarchal Power from a Feminist Perspective’, working together was essential and we need to include men to fight for our rights”. Ortiz also mentioned other classes that made an impact, such as “What is Social Entrepreneurship?”, “U.S. Economic History”, and “The Power of Language: Breaking down linguistic biases”.
Likewise, Marina Sales (Brazil) and Anna Marzetti (Argentina) pointed out how mind-opening the program has been so far. In Marina’s perspective “these multicultural opportunities allow us to grow and to understand how to communicate ourselves better, acquiring soft skills we are going to use throughout our personal, academic and professional lives”. She also reinforced how important the group meetings are, “(…) to speak up and let our opinions be heard also helps with public speaking skills, and has been really important to overcome shyness”. For Anna, having met new people is one of the most treasurable things, and “it has already filled [her] mind with so many ideas for future projects that [she] hopes will impact [her] life and make a positive change in [her] community”.
Sebastián Leal (Chile), as well as Marzetti, highlighted the projects the other participants are implementing in their communities. Leal said “meeting people that are truly passionate about their work has been inspiring, both professors and the people that are on the same journey as me in the program”. In the end, he brought up how inclusive the lectures are, “I love asking and learning about the differences that can arise from the foundations of a country”. In the meaning of the inclusion and diversity seen in the classes, Tiago Germán (Uruguay) concluded that “(…) everyone fosters the participation of the students, especially Professor Barbezat (one of the lecturers of the week)”. He added that the program is a valuable opportunity to learn about international cooperation, social responsibility and human rights.
Germán, like his peers, thinks that getting involved in the social and environmental entrepreneurship landscape SUSI provides has allowed him – and all the participants – to meet enthusiastic professors and young university students from Latin America who aim to make our world a better place. “