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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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Study Abroad Trip to Ecuador Makes History

Tour+guide+at+Yumbos+Chocolate+in+Ecuador

Tour guide at Yumbos Chocolate in Ecuador

The University of Massachusetts Boston can take pride in the members of the second annual summer institute in Quito, Ecuador titled “Conflict Transformation Across Borders.” Students involved were part of the process that lead to the recent signing of a historic peace accord.

The Colombian government and a left-wing rebel group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have ended 52 years of armed conflict.

The international program is offered through the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. It is a graduate-level course open to undergraduates as well.

Two UMass Boston partner institutions aid in the facilitation of the program: la Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO-Ecuador) and the Center for Mediation, Peace, and Resolution of Conflict (CEMPROC), with the latter founded by Jeffrey Pugh, Ph.D, assistant professor of the Department of Conflict Resolution and Human Security and Global Governance at the McCormack Graduate School.

“While studying dilemmas of refugees, migrants, and the environment, one of the primary goals of the program is going beyond borders and to, at the same time, encourage students to go beyond their own learning, and develop networks beyond the classroom, and have an impact on the world,” said Professor Pugh.

Although the program is more of a university-based setting, it also offers the chance to explore Ecuador and its natural beauty. The classwork and exercises in teamwork and outside experiences are ultimately developed into proposals for projects. Some of the projects from last year have already been funded and are well underway. The program itself is a pilot one which already has plans for extension.

A visit to Ecuador also provides a great chance to savor the delicious product of Yumbos chocolate, the byproduct of a community effort. Ecuador produces five percent of the world’s cocoa. The national variety is world renowned for its fine flavor and rich aroma. Here, the locally grown cocoa is turned into pure artisanal chocolate–without preservatives or artificial flavorings. The work of small farm owners, trained to ensure the quality of the chocolate, would not be possible without the benefits of a fair price and solidarity with employees.

When asked about his experience, Martin Mulkerrin said it was one of the best experiences of his life. “Going down to Ecuador, I was extremely nervous because I was the only undergrad going. My fears were extinguished on the first day. The people were amazing, from the locals to the other students in the program,” he said. Mulkerrin, an undergrad studying political science and international relations, said more in regards to the program: “[The Conflict Transformation Across Borders] program certainly will help any student who is curious about how theory is turned into practice. It shows that education and experience go hand-in-hand while trying to resolve any conflict.”
The Conflict Transformation Across Borders program is connected with the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict in Washington D.C. Future plans for this program include work in Northern Ireland and an inaugural degree program in Israel.