GUATECA

History

California Polytechnic State University
Since 2008, Cal Poly students have explored the causes of poverty (UNIV-391) and innovated prototypes to address technical needs (UNIV-392) through a series of project-based classes. The classes were lead by an interdisciplinary team of faculty and guest instructors who mentored 30 – 40 students across all majors. Additionally, beginning in May 2011, the series expanded to include the exploration of appropriate business (AGB-450).  While the series disseminated important information and fostered creativity, it lacked a partner community to put theory into practice and give the projects meaning. 

San Pablo, Tacaná
The community of San Pablo  (population ~800) has a history of community and social well being that make it particularly well suited for the Guateca endeavor.  Jesuit influence, which began in 1960, is seen in the terraced landscape, litter-free countryside, and strong community organization.  The community successfully combats alcoholism, and prioritizes education.  They have developed a K-12 school system offering hands-on experiences through weekend workshops. Currently there are plans to enlarge the high school program with pre-university courses, and small business development. 

Guateca
In August 2010, Dr. Peter Schwartz visited San Pablo for four days with Luz Marina Delgado, who has collaborated on appropriate technology projects with San Pablo since 1993. Schwartz and Delgado met with community leaders to begin designing a collaboration model and as well as identifying technologies that would have the greatest probability of success and fulfill local needs. Together they envisioned the beginnings of Guateca. San Pablo would supply local university students and community leaders to collaborate with Cal Poly students, instructors, and local universities. Together they would develop technologies and an experimental educational program for Summer 2011. Their goals for the program included the following:

  • Receive a university education.
  • Foster an effervescent professional atmosphere in San Pablo that would retain the educated youth.
  • Build sustainable technologies and enterprises

In December 2010, 12 Cal Poly students from UNIV-391 spent 10 days in San Pablo refining ideas for the Summer 2011 project groups. As a result of this trip, San Pablo expressed additional interest in:

  • Learning English, which gives the youth access to better employment and world communication.
  • Creating something new and interesting to get excited about in the village.
Upon return to Cal Poly, the Guateca Student Advisory Board was formed. It consisted of four students working with Schwartz, Cal Poly Administration, Continuing Education, and San Pablo to shape the summer program and recruit students. Additionally, they interviewed and hired two English teachers to instruct San Pablo students and facilitate communication between San Pablo and Cal Poly.

The pilot program, Guateca Summer School 2011, was a fantastic success. Read more about it on our Guateca 2011 page.  Since September 2011, various groups of Cal Poly students have continued to develop technology design, sustainable business models, and the relationship with San Pablo. 

 

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