From October 4 to 8, the Continental Seminar of the Socio-educational Proposal of America of the TA was held in Cochabamba (Bolivia): "Educate in Difficult Times. Deepen, Systematize, Influence, Innovate." This year, with the intention of collecting data and evaluating the process lived in the six-year period, 2013-2018, representatives from schools and Social Projects of the Teresian Association in America met in Cochabamba to share the evaluation of the lived experience, to analyze progress and difficulties faced and to propose ideas and initiatives to continue walking and dreaming in the footsteps of St. Pedro Poveda.
From 11 countries
Forty-two people from schools and Projects of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela participated in the meeting, as well as the Steering Committee: Vera María Candau and Susana Sacavino (Brazil), Cecilia Villalva (Mexico), Luz Elena Patarroyo (Colombia), Josefina Espaillat (Dominican Republic) and Eliana Corbett (Chile); the TA President, Maite Uribe and Elisa Estévez (Council Member). Also Clara Ruiz and Andrés Díaz Martín, members of InteRed, participated.
The lines of work launched in 2013 that guided the work of the Proposal in each country and at the continental level during the six-year period were analyzed in this Seminar: Deepen, Systematize, Influence, and Innovate. During this six-year period, these lines meant a strong effort and commitment on the part of the different actors who carry out the life of schools and social projects as well as the links and teams of the Project and collaborators, the governments of the demarcations, the continental Steering Committee, the coordinating team of the Platform of America, the Governing Council, and other general and continental TA bodies and programs.
Committed educators, enthusiastic educators
With words of welcome from Ana María García (Sector Director of Bolivia, host country), the Seminar began with great enthusiasm and expectations: "It is a joy to see ourselves as a continent ... to meet again in order to weave dreams, to build the reality to which the Gospel invites us, to look back to appreciate the progress, to remember the obstacles, the moments of uncertainty and with courage and clarity of mind to look together at the new challenges and take the risk of freedom ... We welcome you on behalf of Bolivia ... that together we may innovate and display the courage these times demand of us ..."
Then, the TA President, Maite Uribe, addressed the participants with encouraging words and an invitation to look at reality with a discerning attitude and to commit to working together. Echoing the Decalogue of the Socio-Educational Proposal, Maite Uribe said: "The dream of a quality education that empowers all seems difficult to achieve. However, the effort that unites minds and hearts can make it possible ... Pedro Poveda proposed a movement of committed educators, with a great professional preparation, capable of reading reality and working together ... enthusiastic educators ... Reality is challenging; it is necessary to have a discerning look, be able to see progress and difficulties ... have the capacity of joining forces, to think new proposals summoning more people ... This year we are called to live it with courage and clarity of mind to scrutinize reality, to leave behind models that are apparently established forever, with a capacity to dream ... magic and mobilizing word because in order for something to happen we have to dream it ... As Pedro Poveda says `we all must cooperate ... ... Let's get down to work ... '. After Ana María García and Maite Uribe spoke, the President of ACIT of Bolivia and Vera María Candau also encouraged those present to continue working along the same lines.
Round table with three topics and thematic confluences
The work in the Seminar began with a round table with three presenters who helped us look at the current reality of the continent from three perspectives: Citizenship, by Luz Elena Patarroyo (Colombia), Education, presented by Susana Sacavino (Brazil), and "Buen Vivir," by José Manuel Freddy Delgado Burgoa (Bolivia).
The prayers and daily Eucharist, prepared by people from the different participating countries, gave light and depth to what was lived and shared every day, asking for the Gospel to illumine us and to help the members of the Association in each reality. Sonia Jimenez (Dominican Republic) said: "The experience of prayer and the daily Eucharist touched my heart greatly.”
Each day, in the morning and in the afternoon, the participants shared memories and indicators of progress, challenges and difficulties in the development of the socio-educational proposal in their own areas, taking into account the impact on the social transformation of educational actions, the evangelizing dimension, the systematization and construction of thought inspired by the proposal, the formation of collaborators, the progress of the Socio-educational Movement "Educating in difficult times," and institutional sustainability. These were days of fruitful sharing, of witnessing the richness of the Association's presence in this continent, the efforts made in the different countries for social transformation, appreciating the common construction, and recognizing the importance of strengthening bonds.
At the end of each day, the different groups looked for common lines of action and priorities to guide the principles that will thrust the proposal in the coming years. With attentive listening, the prioritization was developed with openness and a strong commitment on everyone’s part regarding new challenges.
The major agreements in the themes to be prioritized in the coming years arose around the systematization of experiences, the evangelizing dimension of socio-educational interventions and their transformative impact, the formation of collaborators, the sustainability and the management of the schools and Projects, the procurement of funds, and other issues. The Steering Committee will prepare a synthesis to be sent to participating countries.
At the end of the seminar, people valued the entire experience in many ways and with different expressions. They highlighted, among other things, the richness of their sharing, the depth of the presentations and meetings, the intercultural dimension, the commitment of everyone to continue with the project, the plurality and participation.
The desire and commitment of everyone was: empower people and open new paths for transformation and bring to fullness that which is human, generate and strengthen new methods and educational programs, walk together in diversity.
Text and photos: Marta María Olmedo (from Argentina)