Anglia Ruskin welcomes President of Panama

Published: 14 May 2018 at 12:03

President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, with Professor Iain Martin

Visit to Cambridge campus celebrates achievements of Panama Bilingue students

The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, visited Cambridge yesterday to meet current students enrolled on the successful Panama Bilingue programme at Anglia Ruskin University.

Anglia Ruskin’s Language Services Unit has taught over 50 students from Panama this year, taking the total number to over 200 students since the link began in 2015.

Now one of the world’s largest teaching projects, the programme was established by the Panamanian government to tackle the low level of English language proficiency in the country.  Panama Bilingue aims to equip students to become English language teachers and teach other subjects in English, as well as provide them with vital leadership skills.

Many of the participants come from rural areas of the country, and for most it is the first time they have travelled outside Panama.  Anglia Ruskin is largest Panama Bilingue academic partner in England, with other students being educated at universities in the US and Canada.

In addition to meeting the students President Varela, accompanied by the British Ambassador to Panama Damion Potter, was welcomed by Professor Iain Martin, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, Dr Apurba Kundu, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts Law and Social Sciences, and academics from Anglia Ruskin’s Language Services Unit.

After joining the students for a traditional afternoon tea on campus, President Varela and his delegation enjoyed a guided tour of Cambridge’s historic city centre and a punt trip on the River Cam.

Speaking at the event, President Varela said: 

“I really just want to thank you for receiving our kids.  They feel at home and really happy – you can see it in their faces.”

Professor Iain Martin, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin, said: 

“We are proud to be playing a role in helping to shape the cultural and economic future of Panama. 

“This programme is affecting real change in the country already, and the experiences our Panama Bilingue students have while studying with us are life-changing, not just for the participants themselves but for those that they will teach when they return to Panama.”