On 20th October 2010, Viviana Michel, La Riojana's Agricultural Manager and Project Manager for La Riojana's Fairtrade Projects , met with students at Upper Shirley High School, a Co-operative Trust School, in Southampton as part of her first trip to the UK to educate them in Fairtrade and to explain how it is benefitting La Riojana's local communities in Argentina.
Since October 2008, La Riojana has worked with The Co-operative on a Fairtrade project to build a new secondary school in the small, isolated village of Tilimuqui, a place where before now children have only been offered schooling up to the age of 14. The new secondary school, Colegio Nacional Agrotecnico, which specialises in agriculture was inaugurated in May 2010 and currently has thirty-three students.
As a result of this Fairtrade project, The Co-operative and La Riojana have been keen to forge links between the newly built secondary school in Tilimuqui with a Co-operative Trust school in the UK, to enable the students on both sides of the Atlantic to learn about each other's cultures and languages, and to give them a global understanding, that cannot achieved through text books alone.
Being a Co-operative Trust School means that Upper Shirley High School is set up as a co-operative and it follows co-operative values, as well as a membership structure to engage parents, carers, pupils, teachers, staff and the local community. Viviana's visit to Upper Shirley High School, which was organised by The Co-operative, not only provided the students a firsthand lesson in Fairtrade, it was also a perfect opportunity for Viviana to talk about the students in Argentina.
Following Viviana's visit, the schools plan to establish direct communication, which will be made possible as soon as the internet is installed in Tilimuqui.