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“Open Doors” at El Batán

To mark its 5th Annual “Open Doors” event, CIMMYT welcomed 344 students to El Batán on 23 September 2011. Representing 14 universities from as far away as Querétaro and Morelia, the students enjoyed a full day of activities, including an introduction to CIMMYT, a lecture on GIS, visits to wheat, maize, and conservation agriculture demonstration plots, and tours of the germplasm bank, international trials room, and biotechnology and cereals laboratories.

DSC_5950Carlos Alonso Hernández Castro, an agronomy student at the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Xochimilco, described the visit as “enriching”. “I’ve learned how people work in teams which combine field and laboratory work,” he said. Some students were affected on a more personal level, such as Cristina Ortega González, a biotechnology student at Xicotepec Technological University of Juárez, Puebla. Before the visit, she says she knew nothing of CIMMYT’s work, but the event has inspired her in her studies and she now hopes to conduct an internship with CIMMYT. Coming from a farming family, and seeing the work done at CIMMYT, González said she’s “now more convinced that I’m on the right way to contribute my bit of effort to help my family and others, if possible, to improve their lives.”

The “Open Doors” events began in 2007 and have been coordinated by Petr Kosina and the training office each year. It was hoped that by holding one large event, rather than many smaller ones, the demand on individual departments would be reduced, and students would have the opportunity to gain a more all-round view of the activities at CIMMYT. For these future scientists, Kosina says that “seeing the work and impact of an institution like CIMMYT can help them or influence their career direction.” In fact, students who have previously visited during “Open Doors” have since returned as graduate students. Most of the presentations are given by national staff, which further enables the students to see how they, as Mexicans, can contribute to the work of CIMMYT.

This year’s “Open Doors” event was the largest yet, and was particularly poignant for Kosina, who is leaving CIMMYT, though remaining as a consultant. For this event, he was assisted by Norma Hernandez, Daniela Flores Castillo, and Laura Ruiz. Thanks also to all the staff who gave presentations and assisted with the day.