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Empowering global leaders: Algoma University partners with Lakehead University for transformative international experience

Global Skills Opportunity expands opportunities for underrepresented groups

Algoma University joins forces with Lakehead University for an international exchange of Indigenous cultural knowledge in Belize, immersing students in a one-of-a-kind educational experience.  

The eleven-day trip examines Mayan and Garifuna Ethnomedicine, Architecture, and Astronomy in Belize, led by Dr. Andrew Judge of Algoma University and Dr. Juan Sanchez-Martinez of Lakehead University. Through this immersive educational experience, students delve into an academic exploration of the rich cultural heritage offered by Belizean landscapes. Students learn directly from leaders of Indigenous cultures in Belize, including Yucatec, Mopan, and Q’eqchi’ Maya, as well as Garifuna peoples.

“This course offers students a unique opportunity to participate in a transnational exchange of Indigenous knowledge between Maya and Garifuna peoples from Belize, Anishinaabe peoples from the Great Lakes, and a mixed-race Andean scholar from Bogota, Columbia,” said Dr. Judge. “The Global Skills Opportunity program continues to clear a path for transformative learning experiences that forge connections across borders and empower a new generation of global leaders.”

Students visit archaeological sites such as Cahal Pech and Xunantunich and learn about traditional healing practices from local community leaders. Through immersive experiences, workshops, and reflective writing sessions, participants deepen their understanding of ethnomedicine, architecture, and astronomy while engaging with Belize’s rich heritage.

“Indigenous knowledge-centred study abroad can inspire solidarity between Nations,” shared Dr. Sanchez- Martinez. “It activates in both directions, the host and the guest, the will to return to ourselves.”

This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Global Skills Opportunity Fund as part of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program. This initiative aims to enhance opportunities for students with disabilities, Indigenous students, and those facing financial barriers to participate in international learning experiences.

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