The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is situated in the culturally rich and naturally vibrant, biodiverse ecoregion of Baja California Sur, Mexico, in the small coastal town of Todos Santos — a place many residents and visitors often refer to as a pueblo mágico: ‘magical town.’
As the University’s international hub, the CSU Todos Santos Center provides a broad and diverse range of community-centered programs and educational opportunities for students, staff, and faculty from U.S. and Mexican universities, as well as for BCS residents and visitors from around the world.
Location, location, location
Todos Santos is a quaint yet growing town with a population of roughly seven thousand — bordered to the west by pristine beaches along the Pacific Coast; to its east, the ecologically diverse Sierra de la Laguna Mountain Range and UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve. The town is well-known for its colorful art galleries, fishing activities, and agricultural production of papaya, avocado, mango, and other fruits and crops.
The unique, desert-mountain microclimates and ecosystems of Baja California Sur and Sierra de la Laguna closely resemble those found in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, making the CSU Todos Santos Center an opportune location for research and education in subjects related to agriculture, ecotourism, and water conservation.
“The community of Todos Santos is very friendly and very receptive to people who are new to the area,” said Kevin Segade, a CSU alumnus who participated in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology’s Winter Break program at the Center in January 2019. “I definitely recommend studying at the CSU Todos Santos Center because there’s a lot of opportunity there, a lot potential.”
Something for everyone
The Center celebrated its five-year milestone in 2019, and serves as a venue to forge lasting partnerships and friendships among university communities, Mexican residents, and various organizations — hosting innovative and experiential learning opportunities, collaborative and interdisciplinary research initiatives, and intercultural knowledge exchanges.
Since its founding, the Center has engaged thousands of university students and faculty members, BCS residents, youth and families, researchers, and community partners through a diverse range of program offerings, from full-day events like the Ecotourism Symposium in 2018, to weeklong programs such as Family Adventure Week and Kids Do It All, to semester-long education abroad programs including CSU’s Liberal Arts and Community Engagement courses.
CSU Todos Santos Center staff join English program participants for group photo during Fall 2019 graduation ceremony.
When COVID-19 struck, the Center, along with venues and institutions across the globe, temporarily paused all programming and closed its doors to the public to help prevent the spread of the virus. But its magic was far from lost.
The Center’s dedicated staff pivoted to continue delivering on its mission to “bridge cultures and inspire cultivation of generations of global citizens and thriving communities through collaboration, experience, and exchange of knowledge.”
Olaf Morales, the Center’s languages coordinator, adjusted to host English programs in a virtual format; Idalia Paz y Puente, associate director of business operations, coordinated the Center’s involvement with a regional food security alliance to bring much-needed support and sustenance to BCS residents impacted by the pandemic.
“The value of the CSU Todos Santos Center is that we are always open — not only our minds, but our hearts,” Paz y Puente said, describing the motivation behind the Center’s collaborative approach to the pandemic relief efforts. “Every single program that comes to the Center, every single project that we start or join in the town — we always have that philosophy.”
With vaccine distribution on the horizon, the Todos Santos Center staff have begun preparing to reopen to the community when it’s deemed safe to do so, and are eager to invite students, partners, researchers, and residents to explore and experience the magic of Todos Santos.
“Every time students come to the Center they bring not only their enthusiasm but also energy that the Center needs in order to live,” Morales said. “I am really looking forward to welcoming new students and faculty.”
Learn more about the CSU Todos Santos Center at todossantos.colostate.edu.