Friendship City Exchange, CMC go separate ways to Central America |

Friendship City Exchange, CMC go separate ways to Central America

Friendship City Exchange and Colorado Mountain College will no longer operate under a partnership, according to FCE board member Dave Harmon.

The partnership offered a course called “Service Learning Abroad,” where students traveled to the town of Teotecacinte in northern Nicaragua to work on community projects and learn about the culture.

FCE board members Sunday voted to cut ties with the college and explore the possibility of developing future trips to Central America within the framework of the FCE organization only.

“By mutual consent, the course will no longer be run through the college,” said Harmon, a retired CMC professor. “We will still maintain a relationship with the college and still recruit students for the trip. We will simply operate independent of the college now.”

Added Harmon, “I appreciate all the opportunities the college has offered me in creating these programs. I look forward to continued cooperation.”

Harmon will still continue to teach the World Hunger Seminar through CMC.

FCE will offer a trip to Teote from July 28 through Aug. 18. While the course is listed in CMC’s summer course catalog, those who take the trip will not receive college credit.

The trip will be much the same as before, said Harmon. Tours of the battlefields in Northern Nicaragua, where the Contra War was fought between 1983 and 1991, will still be offered, and the group will work on a community service project.

In 1990, FCE was founded and began taking summer and winter trips to Teote. Because of close relations between the towns, Glenwood Springs and Teote became sister cities.

Through funds raised in the Roaring Fork Valley, FCE and its members worked with community members in Teote to build a high school.

For five years, funding for the Teote school was paid for by donations and fund-raising efforts in the Roaring Fork Valley. In 2001, the state of Nicaragua began supporting the school.

Today, said Harmon, the school in Teote has 220 enrolled students. Of the graduates, 42 now attend universities in Nicaragua. Most are financed by locally funded scholarships. “Thirty-seven percent attend a university,” said Harmon. “The average in Nicaragua is 17 percent.”

In 1999, CMC and FCE became partners in offering trips to Nicaragua, allowing those who went to earn college credit. The program, called Service Learning Abroad, expanded to include annual trips to El Salvador.

CMC will still offer credit for the El Salvador trip, which will take place in May. All of the spaces in that class have been filled.

While in Central America, students and leaders work on community projects, live with local families, and share their cultures. The courses, said Harmon, have resulted in many lasting connections and friendships.

Anyone who would like to know more about traveling to Nicaragua should call Harmon as soon as possible at 384-0394 or 947-8443.

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