Four science-minded Colombians have been chosen to travel to the United States later this year as the first participants in the Andean nation’s Youth in Science for Peace program.
Photo: Science Minister Yesenia Olaya Requene and President Gustavo Petro (center) along with the Youth in Science for Peace program honorees. (Credit: Minciencias)
On their trip, the young academics, who come from Buenaventura, Tumaco, and Quibdó in the nation’s Pacific region, will participate in educational sessions and generally benefit from visiting the science laboratories at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), according the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation.
The ministry is the sponsor of this Youth in Science for Peace program, which has funding of 3.9 billion Colombian pesos and is designed to benefit citizens between the ages of 18 and 228.
“You will be the ambassadors who will help us to elevate this program to each of the regions of Colombia,” said Yesenia Olaya Requene, Colombian minister of science, at the ceremony to unveil the honorees.
Cristian Meneses, who was selected to represent his home of Tumaco for his role with a Freedivers Pacific project, spoke about his work.
“Our project is to give workshops to young people to form underwater sports teams so that young people in the Pacific region can practice it,” he said. “Since these are sports for the rich, we want these to be [opportunities] for young people to get away from vulnerable contexts and also understand the importance of the marine ecosystem.”
He noted that the program will take different shapes depending upon where it is deployed.
“In Quibdo,” continued Meneses, “they want to make a kind of sanctuary of the only forest of fauna and flora. In Buenaventura, they want to make agriculture and fishing in the urban area with sustainability for the poorest houses … [This] can be an opportunity to see how majestic the marine ecosystem is and how to protect it — as well as offer our communities different visions so that we can be away from violence.”
This objective closely aligns with the Ministry of Science’s goal to motivate young people from Colombia’s Pacific regions to lead projects that use science to search for effective responses to local challenges, transform communities, and build peace with environmental sustainability.
“You are the vanguard to drag the rest of the youth towards these new horizons, where, undoubtedly, the Pacific coast, from being the poorest region of Colombia in terms of social statistics, could be the richest — not in terms of greed, but in terms of human development,” said President Gustavo Petro, who participated in the announcement.