WILKES-BARRE, PA (Feb. 11, 2016) — Marcela Paredes de Vásquez, Panama’s minister of education, is visiting Wilkes University from Feb. 10-13 as part of a comprehensive new partnership being developed between the Latin American country and the University.
Paredes de Vásquez began her visit – her first to northeastern Pennsylvania – by signing an agreement with Wilkes that will pave the way for educational partnerships in fields that include education and STEM fields. Wilkes already is hosting a cohort of Panamanian teachers as part of that country’s MEDUCA-Bilingual Panama initiative. The minister will meet with the teachers during her visit. Wilkes is one of only 12 schools in the United States and just two in Pennsylvania to participate in the bilingual program.
An initiative of the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, and run under the auspices of Panama’s Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educacion), the MEDUCA-Bilingual Panama program brings cohorts of teachers to Wilkes and other colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to study English and learn educational methods that are best practices. MEDUCA-Bilingual Panama is part of a national commitment to develop bilingualism in the country’s public schools. The cohort studying at Wilkes includes teachers who work with students in Panama’s elementary and secondary schools.
“Wilkes is honored to host Minister Paredes de Vásquez and to begin this historic educational partnership with Panama,” said University President Patrick F. Leahy. “We look forward to a collaboration that benefits Panama and its citizens, leverages the strengths of our colleges and schools and enriches the Wilkes educational experience.”
During her visit, Paredes de Vásquez also will meet with senior administrators and deans at the University. Her itinerary also includes:
Thursday, Feb. 11:
- Signing of the agreement with Wilkes followed by media interviews at 9:30 a.m.
- A tour of the SHINE afterschool program at the Wilkes-Barre Career and Technical Center in Plains.
- A dinner at the Westmoreland Club that will be attended by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, Panamanian Ambassador to the UN Laura Flores and other elected officials.
Friday, Feb 12:
- A meeting with U.S. Sen. Robert Casey at Wilkes.
- The minister delivers an address, “Education In Today’s Global World,” at 10:30 a.m. in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center on campus where she will be awarded an honorary degree.
- Panamanian Cultural Day on campus, with displays of cultural artifacts, demonstrations of Panamanian dance and foods of the country in the Henry Student Center.
The new agreement being signed this week is the latest signed by Wilkes establishing a comprehensive partnership with Panama. In January, University President Patrick F. Leahy signed an agreement with Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, vice president and minister of foreign affairs, for Wilkes to provide educational opportunities for Panama’s diplomatic corps. In addition, Wilkes Provost Anne Skleder signed agreements of collaboration with four Panamanian universities: Universidad de Panamá, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, Universidad Especializada de las Americas y Universidad Latina.