The Universidad para el Desarollo (University for Development), which with the Universidad Europea fosters the social commitment of its students through international cooperation projects, has increased the number of projects it is leading over the previous year. During this course, more than 60 members of the university community were involved in various collaborative projects in India, Honduras , Nicaragua , Egypt and Ghana.
In 2013, the program supported initiatives that aim to solve some of the needs identified by local organizations working in the addressed areas including water infrastructure, power supply, communications between villages, health services, and spreading the values of culture of peace. In other cases, initiatives are promoted directly by students, such as sports as an instrument of social change.
This program is carried out in collaboration with Banco Santander, through its Santander Universities Global Division, which since 2003 has worked with Universidad Europea de Madrid. Students and professors from the university are involved in the organization and implementation of programs, and receive training to help projects be successful. This allows students to have the opportunity to realize their final projects or to work with various international non-profit organizations, like AIPC Pandora in India and Guatemala or the Cerro Verde Foundation in Honduras.
According to Sara Fernandez, a student in the Faculty of Health Sciences who worked on a project in India, "the Universidad para el Desarollo program has helped me to grow and see another culture very different from ours, I think many people need to do something like that to appreciate what we all have."
As noted by Olga Bernaldo a professor from UEM’s Polytechnic School, "the volunteer program is an additional training exercise where students apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom in a different environment than usual, under sometimes precarious conditions that force them to adapt their skills and expertise to be successful." This initiative opens minds and provides an opportunity for an expanded view of the world around us, learning and respect for other cultures, and the contribution to a social project that benefits those who live a different reality.
Universidad Europea, through the Department of Social Commitment, also offers support outside of this program to students who need advice to undertake social projects, training or guidance for volunteering. With these alternatives the Curriculum Sustainability Plan is reinforced, "which aims to develop the basic skills students need regarding sustainability and decision making during their personal and professional life, helping them to become professionals that can meet the challenges of today and the future and ultimately, contribute to sustainable human development," says Laura Gómez Cuesta, its director. The idea is developed through an innovative training program and work-based social awareness of environmental protection, poverty reduction, gender equality, health promotion, human rights, cultural understanding and peace and responsible production and consumption.
Banco Santander supports these initiatives through its Santander Universities Global Division, which has agreements with more than 1,040 universities and research centers worldwide. More information is available at: www.santander.com/universities.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.