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The development rural, 'in the hands' of the university students.

University students have carried out internships in 20 different towns in Navarre thanks to the "Revitalizing Rural Heritage" program.

/Iria Rodríguez (second from the left), together with family members and neighbors of the town.

18 | 09 | 2023

Since March, but especially during the summer season, 33 students from the University of Navarra have carried out internships in 20 towns in the region. This has been possible thanks to the project Revitalizing Rural Heritage, result of the agreement between the University of Navarra, the General Administration of Local Administration and Depopulation of the Government of Navarra and the La Caixa Foundation, the entity that finances the program.

"The initiative arises as a response to the serious problems related to depopulation and loss of social and economic vitality suffered by large areas of Navarre and the goal aims to reverse - or at least mitigate - the effects it has on the natural, cultural and social heritage of our land," explains Juanjo Pons, professor at the School of Philosophy and Letters and promoter of project.

The students have carried out internships in the Navarrese towns and municipalities of: Abárzuza, Acedo, Arizala (and lands of Iranzu), Arteta (and Ollo valley), Berbinzana, Cascante, Dicastillo, Elizondo, Falces, Fitero, Gallipienzo, Irurita, Javier, Lakuntza, Lerín, San Martín de Unx, Sangüesa (and region), Santa Criz de Eslava, Urroz Villa and Villanueva de Arce.

The young people belong to seven Schools and study Degrees as History, Journalism, International Office, Pedagogy, Teaching, Biology and management Applied. Several of them have been able to fill in more than one internship in different entities and companies, both public and private, such as city councils, foundations, associations and museums. In total, they have completed 40 internships.

"It is very important that young university students (in many cases urbanites) get to know the rural environment first hand and live with its inhabitants. They contribute their knowledge, their talent and their enthusiasm helping in tasks that different public and private entities rooted in the territory have detected as needs for the villages. Who knows if, through this 'immersive' experience, future job opportunities and repopulating vocations for these environments will emerge", says Juanjo Pons.

In her first university summer, Iria Rodríguez Ezpeleta, a student of Biochemistry with the Science Business Program, has done an internship at ICARRA association for the Conservation of Gallipienzo. This is an institution created by its neighbors in 1979 in order to preserve the infrastructure and report of the village and maintain unity among its inhabitants. Iria's family is a native of the municipality and she has spent summers running through its streets. "Gallipienzo has seen me grow and now I want to help it grow in this time of depopulation. A program that seeks to preserve Navarra deserves all the attention it can get," she says.