Tuesday, February 28th, 2017...10:58 am

DPMI Colombia a Unique Experience for MIIS Students

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Thirty practitioners and Middlebury Institute (MIIS) graduate students came together in Medellin this past January to participate in the first ever iteration of DPMI Colombia. MIIS alumna Teryn Wolfe and DPMI alumna Shelley Casey of the E2E Foundation hosted a training which covered skills from module one of DPMI and incorporated content adapted to their local setting. The training offered participants both classroom instruction and practical field experience with local client organizations. The training was conducted entirely in Spanish, adding a unique learning opportunity for MIIS students. “Nothing replaces being fully immersed in a language,” recounted Katie Morton (MIIS MPA ‘18), who stayed with a host family throughout the training and learned development concepts and vocabulary in her second language.

Katie had the opportunity to complete a client project for the “Buen Comienzo” (“good start”) program. Similar to the Head Start program in the US, Buen Comienzo works to improve primary education through an integrated, child-centric model.  Buen Comienzo is part of a larger, 12 year government neighborhood revitalization initiative in the city that integrates modern architecture, nutritionists, interactive spaces, and education professionals all for the benefit of children and their development.  Katie’s role was to aid the organization in developing an evaluation strategy using the tools she learned from the E2E training.  Completing her client project side by side with local practitioners helped Katie reflect on her role in the community, what kind of questions to ask to better understand the local, organizational context, and how her work could contribute to the mission and goals of the organization.  

What was the most important ‘big idea’ from the experience?  “You can learn these tools and concepts anywhere but there’s so much more you can gain when you are applying it to a real context with people who have lived that reality.”  The training allowed her to interface with practitioners in the spirit of innovation.  Colombians from all over the country came to Medellin to share their projects and learn new skills for development: throughout the training Katie worked closely with several local social activists, one colleague was piloting a floating school model along the coast in northern Colombia.  Through DPMI Colombia, “you can gain a comprehensive picture and get to know people who have had very different experiences. It helps you gain a multidimensional understanding of a situation or context.” 

DPMI encourages alumni to incorporate DPMI skills into their own contexts and welcomes future partnerships between the Institute and alumni.


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