July 12, 2014
by Raymond Thomson and Anthony Cawley
The final day of ICRPS began with an air of nervousness as students prepared for the dreaded group presentations. Beautiful weather could not distract from the last minute preparations that were due. After a morning spent preparing, revising, adjusting and practicing, an early lunch paved the way for the first presentation to take place at 12:30.
The first group up was Subi and Kate who looked at the impact of education on rural migration. Their recommendations included a lower student/teacher ratio, increased number of teachers, general education reform and acknowledged that this was only one piece of the rural development package.
Next was the agri-food group 3 of Venus, Mikael and MD looking at food security in Mexico and Brazil regarding maize. Their recommendations included better finances both in terms of loans and subsides.
The next group up was the second sustainability group of Sal, Martha, Stan, Bianca, Heather and Casey looking at biodiversity and community management. They recommended improved participation, improving social capital, scale up policies, government support and continuity.
A quick 15 minute break was followed by our own presentation which looked at using social capital as a tool for regional development. We argued that more effective bridging and bonding could yield significant benefits to Malinalco.
Group 2 were up next consisting of Anna, Seth, Noe, Haniel and Tristeen who looked at the issue of governance making comparisons between communication, knowledge transfer and water management. Their recommendations included increasing liaison between government and farmers, strengthening the extension system and utilising water basin management plans.
Group 4 came next, with Mary, Ryan, Ernesto, Myriam and Fridah looking at diversification versus specialisation for regional development. They outlined the benefits of both systems, and encouraged greater community involvement to boost capacity.
Finally, group 7 of Aaron, Erin, Marco, Charles and Dan looked at community based forestry and recommended that ejidos needed longer term legal agreements, increased investment and ongoing development.
The last dinner
ICRPS Mexico wrapped up on July 12th with dinner, music and dance. Students and faculty gathered for an evening of celebration over a collective sense of accomplishment. The atmosphere was equal parts happiness and excitement as the 11th annual ICRPS successfully concluded.
Much was learned from two weeks of study, field trips and group work. During that time, many new friendships began, emerging from partnerships and shared experiences.
On the final evening, it was bitter sweet to say good-bye too other students and faculty alike. The long days and early mornings were not without impact, however; students and faculty greatly enhanced their knowledge of rural topics and policies.
All were upbeat about completing the 11th annual ICRPS. The casual mood carried on past the formal dinner. Tables and chairs were pushed aside to make way for the dance moves of students and faculty. The atmosphere was vibrant with non-stop dancing and drinking. Who knew stuffy academics were such talented dancers.
On behalf of students and faculty, Lidia, Victor, Tanya and the entire UAEM team deserves immense credit for a great ICRPS. They were fabulous hosts. Their determination in ensuring that everyone was comfortable and safe did not go unnoticed.
On top of the day-to-day organizing, translating and logistics for 50+ individuals, the UAEM team frequently socialized and cared for the needs of students and faculty. This included help with ordering food at restaurants and adding further insights on the Mexican policy situation as it related to a class or fieldtrip.
Mexico was an appropriate setting for emerging scholars to learn about rural public policy. It left a lasting impression on those who attended. If this year was any indication, ICRPS Ireland in 2015 is sure to be an equally good time. Take care IRCPS alumni. See all of you next year!