Karen Gabriela Liñán, PhD
I am a political scientist and social entrepreneur. My late adolescence and early adulthood were shaped by my participation in educational and environmental projects around the world. Within a ten-year time frame I acted as development volunteer in more than ten non-profit organisations including public schools, international agencies, arts institute, etc. All these fulfilling and fantastic experiences inspired my upbringing.
Due to different circumstances I had the opportunity of living in several countries such as Mexico, Canada, France, United Kingdom and Hungary. In Hungary is where I experienced by far the greatest challenge in terms of cultural immersion and professional opportunities. For context, Hungary has a strategical location in Europe, its borders are in between the East and West. Thus receiving migration coming from conflict zones such as Ukraine, Syria, Iran and even Venezuela. I have first-handedly experienced the cultural barriers and understand the hard time that other immigrants just like me have to cope when arriving to the country. Additionally, the Hungarian language is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world for its grammar, pronunciation and spelling complexity. With this in mind, we founded the Hungarian Language School and Cultural Center Ltd. (Magyar Iskola Kft.) in 2016. It's rebirth came to fruition with the coordination of a local partner and a linguistic expert. Its values and mission were redirected from its initial form of 1991, a project that was born shortly after the fall of the communism with a different objective and mindset.
"This project was made from the bottom of my heart. I want to facilitate short-term diaspora cultural immersion in Hungary."
Magyar Iskola received the official certification and license by the Hungarian Adult Education System (HAES) in 2017. This important achievement consolidated the success of the project. Magyar Iskola became an official service provider for local non-governmental refugee and immigrants organisations such as Malta Foundation (Magyar Máltai Szeretetzsolgalát) among others. Personally, as a female professional and foreigner under thirty, to be owner and co-founder of this social project was a milestone that gave me confident to execute the next strategy.
"Early childhood centers had to permanently close affecting hundreds of children."
Simultaneously in 2018, the Mexican government announced the end of federal subsidies given to early childhood education centers around the country, the program was named in Spanish (Programa de Estancias Infantiles).
As a result, several childcare providers could not continue their operations as they depended directly on the bursary. Naturally, those educational centers located in peripheral areas were amongst the most distressed and affected by the implementation of the policy.
Why I do it?
I took a proactive role and went on a scoping visit to my hometown in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. But instead of approaching the urbanised area, I focused my attention on one of the 12 "magic or original towns" organised under traditions and customs dating back from the pre-conquest native population. This means that the community has its local way of organisation, traditions and celebrations. Thus, the "magic town" named Santa María Ahuacatitlán (the land of avocados) was chosen as the prime location for EEG's second educational project.
Colegio Bienestar Santa María Ahuacatitlán A.C. got its license (17PJN0672Z) under the Institute of Education in Morelos (IEBEM) in 2019. Members of the community were involved and supported the project since the beginning. The communal authority, (Comisariado Ejidal) facilitated the land for establishing our educational center. Additionally to the local involvement of the community, valuable contribution of international donors helped uplift the project in its initial stage by sending school supplies and books. In the end of 2019, I was nominated and amongst the finalists for the Latin American Social Leaders Award in Vienna, Austria at the United Nations Headquarters.
The educational digitalisation proved to be the new trend during the local pandemic COVID-19. This shift represented a great opportunity to reach young students in Mexico between the age of 8 and 17 attending public schools mainly in urban areas where internet network is stable and remote education is possible. Guadalajara, Jalisco is the location for the newest project conducted by EEG. Overall, public schools in Mexico do not provide English as an Additional Language (EAL) courses. Thus, promoting inequality of social and cultural capital for those who cannot afford private language tutoring. LIDO Foundation aims to connect English Teachers with local female students by creating opportunities based on learning the English language.
Our strategy for the next seven years is to consolidate and mature each project. Based in the same objective, a new Austrian Language School was stablished in Vienna, Austria in July 2022. If you would like to know more about my professional path or Education Europe Group's ongoing projects you can follow my social media or read the full interview in Spanish.