Notes From the Field: Supporting the ROLCI Program in Paraguay

Author: Maria Camila Ospina

Maria Camila Ospina Rolci

As part of the Rule of Law and Culture of Integrity (ROLCI) program in Paraguay, I had the opportunity to visit the country in March 2022. This was the first time I ever visited Paraguay, and it was amazing. The ROLCI program, funded by USAID and implemented by Insituto Desarrollo (ID), is designed to strengthen the role of higher education institutions, especially in the training of young lawyers in Paraguay, to promote the Culture of Legality and respect for the State of Law. 

The Notre Dame team started working with ID in Paraguay in 2020, and has already delivered several recommendation reports about higher education, research, and in general the teaching of law in Paraguay, as well as other requisites and filters to become a lawyer in the country. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we could not meet in person until this visit. Without a doubt getting to know our partners and the impact of all the work we have done together was the best part of the trip.

Rolci Day 2

The objective of my visit was to meet ID, see the results of the work we have been doing first-hand, and better understand the development of the project to be able to plan for further steps that serve our partners in the best way. I also visited all the universities and law schools that are partners and beneficiaries of our work, and I gave a talk on Active Learning Methodologies in the teaching of law,  in all the places we visited.  

The first day of my visit I met with ID in the morning. Particularly, with part of the team we have been developing and leading the project with.  In the afternoon, I visited the first one of our partners, Universidad Nacional de Asunción. Several professors attended, including the Law School's Dean. At night, I met with some of the professors at Instituto Desarrollo.  The second day we traveled to the city Ciudad del Este, there we met with our second partner Universidad Nacional del Este. We had a full auditorium. All the authorities of the law school and the university attended, also dozens of students. The third day, we traveled to the city Salto del Guairá in Canindeyú, where we visited Universidad Nacional de Canindeyu. The entire academic team, the dean, and several professors attended the meeting. The last day, we visited the city of Concepción, where we met our partners at Universidad Nacional de Concepción. We again had a full auditorium. All professors attended, the University's principal and dozens of students. 

The impact of this visit was very significant, I came back with a clearer vision of how to continue to contribute to our partners to address their needs in a more precise and effective way; I also enjoyed seeing the impact of our progress to date, how these institutions have truly been able to improve, and the result of the great effort that ID and Notre Dame have made to serve these communities.

Rolci Day 3

The visit also allowed us to talk to our beneficiaries, get to know them and for them to get to know us. This will be fundamental in order to have their support and participation in the future of the project.

In summary, the visit to Paraguay left me with a full heart and a great desire to continue working. I really enjoyed its landscapes, the warmth of its people, and its food. I recommend everyone who visits to try the Arroz Quesú, the Chipas, and the Surubí a la teja. Everything was delicious. I also was very impressed by the “bottle dance”, certainly something that marked me. I hope I can come back again soon and I can’t wait to see where this project continues to lead us. I believe great things are going to continue to happen!

I am beyond grateful to the Pulte Institute for Global Development, Professor Roger Alford, and the University of Notre Dame Law School, for having led my way to this amazing project and for the trust they placed in me to lead this part of it, as well as for their invaluable support and input. I have been very fortunate to learn from the best. The past two years were absolutely great and it was amazing to finally meet all the team at ID and each and all of our partners. Thank you very much for this visit, for allowing me to work with you, and for showing me your beautiful country. 

Maria Camila Ospina is a lawyer from Bogotá, Colombia, where she currently works as a consultant for FTI. She is a member of the board of directors and council of founders of the Plataforma Cívica Nueva Democracia and has worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bogotá. In addition, she was part of the Terre des Hommes (Lausanne) Foundation and worked on a report on violence and discrimination against women for the Ombudsman's Office in Colombia, as well as a consultancy for the Ombudsman's Office in Argentina on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Maria has a degree from Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, Colombia with an emphasis on International Law and Human Rights, and Master (Cum laude) in Law from the University of Notre Dame.  She has been the lead consultant for Notre Dame in the ROLCI program for the past 2.5 years. To date, she has delivered more than 5 reports on Legal Education and Rule of Law in Paraguay.