A Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School (SCVTHS) teacher and five SCVTHS Academy for Health and Medical Sciences students were honored at a United Nations conference in April.
The 2018 Committee of Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) Conference, Stepping Up to Protect the World’s Children, was held at UN headquarters in New York City.
Spanish instructor Guillermo Reina was one of six educators to receive the conference’s 2018 Excellence in Education Award for his leadership of a student project designed to develop global awareness about health issues in indigenous regions of Latin America.
He and his 29 students – all of whom attend both SCVTHS and Raritan Valley Community College – collaborated with DB Perú, a non-profit organization working to bring sustainable healthcare and education to the communities of the Napo River in Perú.
“The students were asked to develop specific proposals to address the unique healthcare needs of this community in the Amazon jungle,” Reina said. They used the Asia Society’s global competence model to develop their project, and received additional assistance from specialists at William Paterson University.
Examples of some of the students’ ideas include the development of burn treatments using fish skins, sexual healthcare packages that included both products and education, and a proposal to decrease intestinal parasites through improved cooking methods.
“We were the only high school from New Jersey selected from dozens of applicants,” Reina said. “We are very proud of the amazing work our students did, and that our school was recognized in front of hundreds of scholars, university faculty, college students and leaders from UNESCO, UNICEF and the United Nations.
The project is on-going, and Reina and his students plan to present their ideas to DB Perú‘s board of directors and local Peruvian community leaders, as well as developing an action plan to bring their ideas to life.
“These are very complex global issues, but our leaders of the future are here in our school Right now, we just need to guide them,” Reina said.
The five students individually honored – Catherine Chen of Warren, Sandra Raju of Hillsborough, Matthew Natividad of Somerset, Rahul Ubriani of Somerset and Julia Garaffa of Skillman – were among the top finishers in the annual poster contest promoting the theme of the conference, which drew hundreds of entries from high school and college students throughout the country.
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