Medellín (Colombia). From 26 to 29 April 2023 in Medellín, at Villa St. Francis de Sales, the meeting of the representatives for education of the Interprovincial Conference of the Bolivarian Nations (CINAB) and the Andean Region took place on the theme: “Educating with the heart”.
At the meeting, which strengthens the operational coordination of 5 countries – Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, where the Salesian presence animates hundreds of educational centers where children, adolescents, and young people are educated – there were 23 Province referents for education of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Daughters of the Divine Savior.
The objectives were: to reflect on the implications of the new technologies in education and their impact on the Salesian educational model; deepen knowledge and reflection on the Identity Card of the Salesian School of America – ESA; share good practices in the implementation process of the axes of the IV ESA meeting, held in Medellín in 2017.
The meeting began on 26 April with a welcome speech by Fr. Óscar Holguín, Provincial Delegate for education and culture of St. Louis Beltrame Province of Medellín.
Fr. Miguel Angel Garcia, SDB, World Councilor for Youth Ministry, held the reflections on the Identity Card and on technologies in the educational field, while the General Councilor for Youth Ministry of the FMA Institute, Sr. Runita Borja, in her video intervention, said: “Education is an act of hope and this requires tenacity. It is necessary to create alliances inside and outside our schools as an expression of the Global Educational Pact, representing not only the institutions, but also the people who are part of them.”
Fr. Claudio Cartes, Referent for Education of the Salesians di Don Bosco in America, underlined that “we must have a broad vision of the charism in education. On the one hand, there are emerging situations that are contingent; on the other, we have a common rhythm of formation.” He then reminded that the 5th ESA continental meeting will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico from May 1 to 5, 2024.
Sr. Ivone Goulart Lopes, FMA, collaborator of the Youth Ministry Sector, observed that in this post-pandemic time there is need for a “relaunching of education in breadth, length, height, and depth.” She also thanked those present for their commitment to the service of integral education based on the Preventive System, a Salesian characteristic in the Church and in society, responding to the Global Educational Pact and forming “head, hands, and heart” according to the teachings of Christ.
She said, “The school has three roles: ship, compass, and buoy. We must live the prophecy of the Educating Community along the path of humanization. Today, as in the past, it is almost impossible to educate without networking; it is not possible to educate in isolation. Education transcends the individual and private sphere to the extent that it requires great spiritual and pedagogical harmony, a series of interventions and, therefore, one lives in complementarity, reciprocity and collaboration.” The first day ended with a dynamic of encounter and presentation of the participants by José Luis Jiménez, SDB.
On 27 April, after the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr. Óscar Holguin, Martha Cañas from Costa Rica, of the EDEBE Publishing Group, held the seminar “New technologies applied to education”. Subsequently, Roberto Hincapié, of the UPB Academy, presented the theme “ABC of the Metaverse, Artificial Intelligence, and other technologies”. Jorge Moraga Farías, from Chile, of the Salesian Center for Ongoing Formation of America, gave an online presentation on “New digital courtyards”.
On 28 April, which began with the Eucharist presided over by Fr. Dante Mendonza, Ruth Giraldo introduced the presentation of Good Practices in relation to the implementation of the Axes of ESA IV. After that, the group went on a visit to the MOVA, the Center for Teacher Innovation.
The meeting concluded on 29 April with the Eucharist presided over by Fr. Claudio Cartes and with the reflection and analysis of the Identity Card of the Salesian School of America ESA held by Sr. Ivone Goulart Lopes and Fr. Claudio Cartes. The Region and Conference representatives, Gina Canales (Peru) and Sr. Victoria Paz (Bolivia), will work on the challenges, conclusions, and evaluation of the meeting.