Mexican and American students come together to learn about sustainable tourism

Five panelists sit on a stage.

Santa Trinidad Ramírez Gutiérrez, a student at the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur (UABCS), joined the Sustainable Travel and Alternative Tourism course held at the CSU Todos Santos Center because he saw it as a way to explore careers in alternative tourism, and to practice his English.

But he got much more.

“Meeting the people of Colorado was a gift from the University which I did not expect. These relationships are those that enrich you as a student, because you are in contact with another culture, different language, different customs, and everything the culture entails,” he said.

Such was the sentiment of the more than 20 students from Colorado and La Paz, Mexico who attended the course together.

The weeklong course, led by Assistant Professor Daniel Bowan from CSU-Pueblo, was part of the Institute of Ecotourism Studies, which was established in part through the support of a 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant.

Since receiving the grant in late 2017, Bowan has run multiple courses at the CSU Todos Santos Center, in addition to an exchange program, bringing seven Mexican students to Colorado for experiences in Denver, and at CSU’s Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses.

A major supporter of the courses, student engagement, and exchange is Todos Santos Eco Adventures, a company owned by Todos Santos residents Sergio and Bryan Jauregui. The husband-and-wife team also provided input for the Center’s Ecotourism Symposium in May 2018. They reflected that regional conservation experts presented and shared knowledge with the students, “but perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Symposium was the audience it brought together.”

“It was a pleasure to meet everyone – I have all of you in my heart, and I really hope someday to be able to see them again, thanks UABCS and thanks CSU for this great experience of ‘convivencia’. Thanks to you for allowing us to teach you a little of what it is to be Mexican, our language and our humor, thanks for everything.” – Ramírez Gutiérrez

“Soy estudiante de último semestre y tuve la oportunidad de asistir al Simposio realizado en Todos Santos y ahí, compartí algunos de los resultados de mi trabajo de grado (investigación). La experiencia fue enriquecedora porque las personas que estuvieron presente en mi investigación, se mostraron muy interesadas y preguntaban sobre el trabajo realizado. Me gustan estos espacios donde puedo compartir el conocimiento e interactuar con los demás. Espero que no sea la primera o la última vez que me inviten a participar a este tipo de eventos con la presente institución.” – Hassir Lastre Sierra, de la Maestría en Administración Estratégica

“UABCS and CSU students spent the better part of the week preceding the Symposium, working together, exploring some of Baja’s wild areas, sharing ideas and forming friendships,” they said. “This grant, in general, and the Ecotourism Symposium, in particular, are tremendous tools for helping to develop a dynamic and well-trained ecotourism workforce in BCS, and we look forward to more significant opportunities like this for our local high school and university students.”

Exchange of knowledge, ideas, and people has been a successful model for cultivating the next generation of culturally aware individuals, Bowan said.

Two women rolling tortillas.
Learning to roll tortillas.

His students agree that the experience was more than a course in another environment.

Another example of which is Travis Rooney, a Construction Management major at CSU, who thought he might gain a bit of cultural understanding in addition to fulfilling credits.

“Well, I got much more than that; I got a life experience that I will never forget. The people we met down there from the other local colleges, the CSU students we came with, the professors, everything was amazing,” Rooney said. “I would never change the experiences I had for anything.”

About the Colorado State University Todos Santos Center

Located in Baja California Sur, Mexico, CSU Todos Santos Center serves as the University’s international hub, providing research and educational opportunities in alignment with existing University curricula.

Advancing CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach, the Center collaborates with Mexican universities and organizations, and provides workshops and programs for visitors and local residents.

CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to partner in the creation of thriving communities through experiential learning and the exchange of knowledge.

For additional information, visit todossantos.colostate.edu.