From Michigan to Cochabamba

Manuel Laredo, CCED Alumnus

My name is Manuel Laredo Garnica. I am from Bolivia and in 2019 I did the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Michigan State University. The Humphrey fellowship is a Fulbright exchange program funded by the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Department of State and implemented by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The program competitively selects and brings accomplished mid-career professionals from developing countries to the United States for a year of graduate-level study and related professional experiences. Its aim is to place Fellows at U.S. universities based on their field of interest to foster knowledge, mutual understanding, and a basis for long-lasting relationships between citizens of the United States and their professional counterparts in other countries.

In my time on campus, I had the opportunity to gain transformational experiences, meet incredible people, and make friends with whom I still have contact. Also, I had the opportunity to do a professional affiliation at MSU Center for Community and Economic Development, where I presented a white paper about the circular economy of scrap tires in Michigan and participated in the domicology and extended producer responsibility committees.

In March of 2020, COVID-2019 changed my fellowship experience. The university closed and I had to finish the semester online. Returning to my home country with my wife and three small children was a challenge because of the outbreak. Our trip home covered 4,500 miles of distance, involved five airports, and took 15 days of quarantine until I arrived at my final destination in Bolivia.

Today, I am in my hometown Cochabamba, safe and healthy. I have had the opportunity to implement some learnings that I gained at CCED. One of the things that most impressed me was how collaborative research was conducted involving the community and how the findings of this research could be shared with others for replication.

This experience helped me realize that in my country some of the solutions to our issues don’t have to come from outside, but solutions can be born from the inside. For this reason, I created an IGTV (Instagram TV)  program called #LessTalksMoreAction, where I share this research and encourage people to be active in creating their own strategies for change. 

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