interviews

“International collaborations are essential for us as our experience is not far reaching enough and we want our biodiversity and our culture to be protected for future generations”- Zoila Moncada and Suyapa Palma

Nov 30, 2021

M.Sc. Zoila Moncada and M.Sc. Suyapa Palma, National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazan (UPNFM) in Honduras. Teachers in VAMOS.

M.Sc. Zoila Moncada and M.Sc. Suyapa Palma are both teachers at the National Pedagogical University Francisco Morazan in Honduras (UPNFM). Zoila is based at the main campus in the capital, Tegucigalpa, whilst Suyapa is based in the west of the country, in Santa Rosa de Copan. But distance doesn’t deter these two women whose bond and shared experience and enthusiasm is second to none.

M.Sc. Moncada is head of the Natural Science Department and her focus is on chemistry and biology. She began as a lab technician and following a masters in environmental education, she became a teacher and science educator. 

M.Sc. Palma is a soil and marine scientist and has been with the university for over two decades. She is eager to explain that her area, Santa Rosa de Copan, is home to the country’s Maya and Lenca populations and often takes her students on archaeological visits to sites to study hieroglyphics and see what nuggets of information the soil throws up for them.

The two scientists are involved in the VAMOS project together with Yajerik Ortega who specialises in chemistry, Javier Garcia from environmental engineering and Diego Diaz, an English teacher.

It was the International Relations office that called them with the offer of participating in the VAMOS capacity-building project which they all eagerly jumped aboard.

M.Sc. Moncada explains, “Our university is involved in a number of projects, particularly within the domain of sustainability. All our students are invited to participate in these projects as we are passionate about protecting our environment and creating more sustainable ways of doing things. These projects begin in elementary and secondary schools, so our IR office thought we should be involved at university level and we thought it was a wonderful idea.”

For both scientists, the VAMOS project is an opportunity for them and their colleagues to learn from others, Brazil and Sweden in this case, and expand what they do across all levels of society.

“We want to motivate our teachers of the future to create a more sustainable environment. It’s important the message gets out there to everyone, from rural to urban areas, in formal and non-formal education’, they explain. “We need our tour guides to be able to speak English well enough so they can educate tourists about our biodiversity and our heritage so we can change the way tourism is conducted in Honduras. With our wealth of forests, national parks, with our plants and wildlife, we need to create order in the chaos because our government isn’t taking this on in a serious way.”

They both agree that although the challenges in the partner countries are different, the end goal is the same – to learn about sustainability from others so good ideas can be replicated and built upon for the conservation of the country’s rich heritage.

“We want change. We want to work together and collaborate. We are training the teachers of the future and VAMOS will help us create something new so we can motivate our people to protect our beautiful natural resources.”

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