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NMSU and Filipino university combine efforts to further anthropology programs

Since 2001, New Mexico State University and the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines, have exchanged faculty, students and research with the help of the Educational Partnerships Program.



From left to right: Josephine Avila, Elmira Judy Aguilar, Erlinda Alburo, Leny G. Ocasiones and Fiscalina "Pecks" A. Nolasco are five faculty members from the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines who are part of the Educational Partnerships


The program, funded through a $100,000 grant from the U.S. State Department, will help the University of San Carlos revive its struggling anthropology program and help NMSU anthropology graduate students conduct fieldwork and work with colleagues in a different country, among other things.

The partnership will also allow NMSU to add new course work to its curriculum based on the additional information and research on Filipino anthropology, and help train University of San Carlos faculty members to teach, train and advise others, thereby increasing the number of anthropology professionals in the Philippines.

"I think it has been very beneficial for us," said Leny G. Ocasiones, one of five faculty members from University of San Carlos currently on campus. "We hope that the experience we have shared has helped (the NMSU anthropology) department and we hope the partnership will continue beyond this project."

Other faculty from the Philippines include Elmira Judy Aguilar, Josephine Avila, Fiscalina "Pecks" A. Nolasco and Erlinda Alburo, who was at NMSU under the Fulbright Lecture Program.

The absence of Ph.D. degrees has not prevented the faculty from pursuing diverse research projects.

"We are the smallest department in our university, but the most dynamic," Nolasco said.

During their stay, the women have been attending graduate level courses and researching information for their dissertations.

They have also come to appreciate the accessibility of information at NMSU.

"The university is so rich in resources, especially the library," Ocasiones said. "We were really awed by it."

The people of the university and Las Cruces have made an impact on the visitors as well.

"The faculty, staff and students have made us feel very welcomed," Ocasiones said. "I feel very much at ease here."

Organizers said the program will continue until 2004 and feel it has gone extremely well.

"We have forged excellent academic and professional relationships, but we have also become good friends as well," said Wenda R. Trevathan, professor and department head of sociology and anthropology. "The four women who are here now are the best examples of scholars in anthropology in the Philippines. The visit to NMSU is to enable them to work with faculty here and to avail themselves of the opportunity to use our excellent library facilities."