Planting the SEEDs for a better future in South America

By Amanda Hari

February 17, 2014 Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 2:18 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) SUNY Broome is a community college, but it also brings students from outside the area to make a difference in their communities.

SUNY Broome international students presented their leadership projects as part of the Scholarship for Education and Economic Development, or SEED program, Monday.

Every year, SUNY Broome accepts 20 students from Caribbean and Central American countries into the program. The seven countries currently participating are the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

The students are from impoverished homes. The program is competitive and students are chosen based on academics and their enthusiasm for learning and making a difference in their communities.

"We don't have this kind of education in our countries and we don't get all these experiences we're getting here," said Christy Hernandez from El Salvador.

The students spend two years in SEED, which requires the students to develop a project to help their communities when they go back home.

For this class, that's in six months.

"Every year it's a very difficult goodbye," said Director of International Education Alberto Miller. "It is also an encouraging moment because we know someday we will see them again."

Projects range from starting a local farmers' market to building a park, or even teaching others.

"I focused on education," said Bryan Henriquec from El Salvador, "but more on tutoring and helping students that are struggling in English, because that's a big area. Many students struggle, especially in mathematics and they need the help."

SEED students are excited to bring their new knowledge back to their home countries.

“I’m bringing technological training, leadership skills, experiences with the community and a lot of things you get from the host families, the teachers, your own classmates and the coordinator," said Hernandez. "Everybody brings something useful to your life.”

Students stay with an American host family for the first year while they learn English and more about the local culture.

The program began in 1989 and partners with Georgetown University.

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