October 03, 2011

Columbia Heights EC Hosts Exchange Students from Mexico 

School partners with Latin Grammy Award-winning artist, activist Miguel Bose to launch Project Convivir (to co-exist) with Pride, a comprehensive cultural exchange program with Mexico

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The Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) is hosting five students and two chaperones from the Lazaro Cardenas School in San Bartolome Zoogocho, Oaxaca, Mexico, through Oct. 14. 

The visit represents the second half of a month-long exchange during which CHEC students visited the Mexican school in a remote mountainous region, four hours from the city of Oaxaca. The Lazaro Cardenas students are primarily of Zapoteco origin and speak Zapoteco and Spanish. They arrived in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Oct. 2 and will remain through Oct. 14.

The two school communities are bridging languages, cultures and borders. Each community will make a contribution to the other designed to help meet one of the goals that members of the United Nations and others have agreed to achieve by 2015. The goal the students selected is environmental sustainability. 

At the Lazaro Cardenas School, the CHEC team participated with their Mexican peers in classes and workshops to mutually determine how San Bartolome Zoogocho can become more environmentally sustainable.  The students also are collaborating on enhanced civic engagement, diversity leading to stronger communities, advocating for fair distribution of wealth in local economies, striking balance between individual and community needs and identifying beauty in the community and the arts.   

Action research and literacy are major focal points of the trip as CHEC students are reading and discussing Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs and Steel.”  A highlight for the CHEC team was meeting President Felipe Calderón and first lady Margarita Zavala and watching the Independence Day parade from the balconies of the National Palace.

In the coming days, the Mexican students will visit the White House with Spanish Ambassador to the Organization of American States Javier Sancho, visit tourist attractions and attend the musical “Fela” at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall. The visit will culminate in the Hispanic Heritage Month student assembly at CHEC on Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.

"We are very excited to launch Convivir with Pride as the next component of our World Cultures Program,” said CHEC Principal Maria Tukeva. “From inception, we have strived to provide students with authentic and rigorous global studies experiences in an effort to develop their linguistic abilities, increase cultural awareness and promote international understanding and cooperation."

CHEC is part of the District of Columbia Public Schools system and serves more than 1,200 multicultural middle and high school students. “Excellence through Diversity” is the goal of the school, which challenges students to exceed expectations and go beyond minimum academic requirements. This international academic exchange is a part of collaborative work between DC Public Schools' World Cultures Program, CHEC Principal Maria Tukeva and Latin Grammy Award-winning artist Miguel Bose, who has won a Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award for his roughly 30-year career.  The exchange also was made possible by a donation from a private sponsor.

For members of the press interested in covering the visit, please contact Robin Winer at mcipoffice@yahoo.com or 202-939-7702.

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