Allison Howe, Project WET Foundation International Project AssistantBy
Allison joined the Project WET Foundation about a year ago, working with the international team to support network partners in more than 70 countries and helping to implement programs such as Clean and Conserve. She recently traveled to Colombia as a guest of the Corporación Autonoma Regional de Cundinamarca (CAR), a Colombian government agency, to take part in the International Meeting of WET Methodology and Strengthening for the Management of Water Resources. From November 15 through 19, Allison traveled from the Botanical Garden in Bogota, to the Chicaque Nature Preserve just outside of Bogota, and finally to Neusa Lake in Cogua, two hours north of Bogota. She took part in a signing ceremony for CAR’s partnership status, learned about CAR and other Project WET programs in Mexico and Argentina and helped train two groups of facilitators. Allison wrote about her experience for the Water Education Blog:
There were two separate groups of facilitators, each with roughly 40 participants. The first group was trained during the first two days of the trip and had more experience with Project WET than the second group. During the first day at the botanical garden, there were several different organizations who presented about their work using Project WET. Four of these organizations were given grants of $2,000 from CAR to implement Project WET in their area. Collectively, they have already reached 6,300 students and hope to reach more students in the future.
The second half of the event was focused on training the second group. These facilitators had a variety of backgrounds—not only teachers but also engineers, government employees and others. Rosalinda Uribe of the Mexican Institute for Water Technology (IMTA), Vivian Lavalle of Asociación de Amigos de la Patagonia (AAP) in Argentina, CAR facilitator Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta and I facilitated a two-day training workshop at Lake Neusa for these participants. I introduced the Clean and Conserve materials and did the Human Knot and Soap Science activities with this group. The other facilitators focused on activities from the Spanish-language version of the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide, Agua y Educación. All 80 of the facilitators trained during the two sessions received a full set of the Clean and Conserve materials in Spanish.
The level of passion for Project WET and water education that I felt from both groups of participants as well as the organizers of the event really stood out for me. Before going to Colombia, we knew very little about what Project WET activity was going on there, but Angie Olaya is one of the most dedicated Project WET facilitators I have met. She believes wholeheartedly in the methodology and is doing everything she can to reach as many people as possible. There were so many thoughtful discussions about water, education, and the issues that surround these topics.
It was inspiring to be in the midst of these incredibly passionate and driven women, several of whom who have been working with Project WET for over a decade. Hearing them talk about their experiences reinforced the effectiveness of having a decentralized model for our International Network. As the headquarters, we at the Project WET Foundation create the materials and curriculum, but in many ways we are simply laying the groundwork that gives rise to the magic that is created outside of our walls.