Five diplomats from Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU) visited the CSU Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico, this spring, to take part in a leadership exchange.
As part of the visit, ASCSU ambassadors visited with student leadership at UABCS, the higher education institution in nearby La Paz, as well as with members of high school student government in Todos Santos.
“Honestly, minus language, I didn’t really see that many differences between us and them,” said outgoing ASCSU President Jason Sydoriak, who led the trip with his fellow students.
The local students were passionate and really cared about their campus, he noted.
It was a thought that resonated with Sydoriak, a Marine Corps veteran who credits international experiences with much personal growth.
“There are students on the other side that want to do just as much good, knowing that you can tap into that is something to walk away with,” he said. “Especially because they are so passionate about sustainability, and knowing that we’re so passionate about sustainability.”
The trip included a number of additional experiences for the CSU student leaders, including volunteering at a grade school to educate children about recycling, meeting with local business professionals and fishermen, and taking an ecotourism trip, the same one taken by CSU Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology students conducting research in Todos Santos.
Andrea Purdy, special assistant professor of Spanish and director of the CSU Language and Culture Studies Center, hosted the ASCSU group and said the students impressed her with their efforts to be a part of the global exchange.
“It confirmed my feelings that the CSU Todos Santos Center really belongs to the students. The reaction I got from some of them is that this center offers CSU a perfect opportunity to reach out and become a truly global institution through educational exchange, research and service,” she said. “We had a great conversation over dinner one night. It was one of those moments that as a teacher, one hopes to have. The students were all talking about issues of globalization, particularly in countries and areas with limited development, issues of colonization, etc. It was a truly dynamic conversation.”
The benefits of exchange are also felt by Todos Santeños who enjoy sharing the love of their community with visitors.
Amy Rex was born and raised in Todos Santos and studied at UABCS in La Paz. She now works at the CSU Todos Santos Center, and has been assisting with research related to ticks and dogs in her community, unearthing her desire to become a veterinarian through her work.
“There’s an opportunity to grow from education and knowledge,” Rex said. “Todos Santeños are the most important thing to me. Having students from CSU come to Todos Santos is a great opportunity for other people to recognize what we are and what we do. Students are very interested in everything we do and we are excited to grow and be Todos Santos – we won’t lose the thing that is Todos Santos.”
About the CSU Todos Santos Center
The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach.
The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research, and produce impactful outcomes.
CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience, and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine, and public health.