For nearly a decade, CCFC co-directors Rob and Tara Cahill have been supporting and encouraging community-based ecotourism efforts by communities that border the cloud forest. This year, and for the next three years, CCFC is giving these communities a wonderful opportunity to bolster their ecotourism projects. With the support of a private high school in British Columbia, CCFC is facilitating a cultural exchange program for young women from these remote, rural communities.
This year (2010), eight young women, from three Q'eqchi' Maya communities will travel to western Canada. They will spend 6 weeks with host families, attend high school and receive intensive language instruction. These young women will visit first nations communities of western Canada and learn about ecotourism in Canadian indigenous communities. They will also visit development projects sponsored by Heifer International of Canada.
The goals of this program are:
- Participants will learn English.
- They will learn more about ecotourism from first nations communities in western Canada.
- They will build their confidence and self esteem.
- Their home communities will be better able to receive and host tourists and visiting groups.
- They will become agents of positive change in their home communities.
Since the group was selected, they have been receiving intensive English classes from a language school in Coban. These young women have been learning very quickly.