Human ecology leader from Paraguay to keynote celebration
Friday, March 7, 2014
MANHATTAN — Clotilde Benitez, professor and head of the human ecology department at the National University of Asuncion in Paraguay, will give the keynote address Saturday at the meeting of Kansas Paraguay Partners at Kansas State University.
The lecture, which marks the group's 50th anniversary, will be at 9:30 a.m. in the K-State Student Union and is open to the public.
Benitez, who has a master's degree from Kansas State University, also will meet with College of Human Ecology administrators and faculty to develop ongoing partnerships between Kansas State and the National University of Asuncion.
"The history of the human ecology program in Paraguay is a K-State story," said Virginia Moxley, co-director of the Institute of Academic Alliances and former dean of the College of Human Ecology. Kansas Paraguay Partners is an affiliate of the U.S. Department of State sponsored Partners of the Americas Project.
"It is truly a success story — a Kellogg project that produced lasting, and meaningful results for Paraguay. In the late 1980s I was part of the development team for the Paraguay department and I returned to Paraguay in 2012 to identify ways that the K-State College of Human Ecology can continue to collaborate with the department of human ecology at the National University of Asuncion."
Benitez's department, part of the College of Agricultural Engineering, has 150 students and 12 faculty. It grew out of a Kansas Paraguay Partners project in Paraguay between Mimi Smith, associate professor in the foods and nutrition department at Kansas State University, and Lic. Lilé Gonzalez, director of the Teacher Training Institute in San Juan Bautista, capital of the Department of Misiones, Paraguay.
The project, which worked with low-income women living on the outskirts of San Juan Bautista to improve their ability to care for their families and earn money, won a national American Express Program Award from Partners of the Americas.
The results from the project were used by Barbara Stowe, dean of the College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University at the time; Ing. Nelson de Barros from Paraguay; and Smith to develop a grant proposal that was funded by the Kellogg Foundation in 1988. The main purpose of the grant was to develop a new curriculum in human ecology that would prepare rural development professionals in Paraguay.
The Kellogg Foundation also provided fellowships for eight Paraguayans to earn graduate degrees in the U.S., Canada and Chile in preparation for teaching in the new department.