This article was written by Mary Laura Delgado Montes. She is a SABF´s delegate at Universidad Nacional de San Agustín in Peru

You’ve heard of Caral, the Nazca Lines, the Lord of Sipán, the ruins of Chavin de Huántar, Cápac Ñan (The Highways of the Incas) or perhaps even of Machu Picchu. The Peruvians are children of a country which has a rich natural and cultural history; a country which contained the Caral civilization, one of the oldest of the world, just as it was the home of the Incan Empire, which was the largest state in pre-Columbian America.

Peru’s geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast, to the peaks of the Andes Mountains and even to the tropical jungle of the Amazon region, characteristics which give her a wide variety of natural resources. Each region is unique and has its own economic activities, but in general Peru has three axes of development. Mining is by tradition the motor which drives the Peruvian economy (Peru ranks second in the world in the production of copper and zinc, first in the production of silver and fifth in gold). The axes of its farming and tourist industries offer great potential for future prosperity.

Somebody once said that “Peru is a beggar seated on a bench of gold.” Judging by the current situation you might say he was right, because currently in Peru there is a high level of poverty, a lot of corruption, quite a few “informal” businesses, and a high mortality rate for new businesses. All of these problems are the results of different factors, factors which are improving slowly. A hopeful sign is the fact that the FMI (International Monetary Fund) raised to 7% its projection of annual growth within the Peruvian economy, a level which places Peru next to Argentina.

This year Peru is the headquarters of a forum where leaders, ministers and specialists from 21 different economies will meet. These economies represent 50% of the world population. The Forum of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) a unique, nongovernmental, world-class association which works on nonbinding commitments through open dialog and mutual respect for the viewpoints of all the participants. APEC does not impose contractual obligations; its decisions are made through consensus and its commitments are voluntary.

APEC has as its agenda the goals of Bogor, that is, free trade and investment in the region, with a goal of 2010 for the industrialized countries, and 2020 for those economies yet in development. For this year’s meetings Peru has proposed the primary theme of “A New Commitment for the Development of the Asian-Pacific Region.” The objective is to arrive at a consensus and an integrated strategy which will promote the sustainable development of the region and share its benefits among the members, through the active participation of governments, international financial institutions and the private sector.

If our political leaders are acting, we cannot just stand around and watch. As has been well said in the SABF, “we don’t have to wait to be professionals to achieve change.” We are the rulers of our own worlds, the world of Mary, the world of Georgina, the world of Alejandro… But these worlds don’t revolve around each of us, because that would be selfishness, rather these worlds spin around the development of humanity, of your country, of your city, of your school, of your family and of your neighbor.

Particularly in my School, we note the weaknesses in the students and in the professors. The problem is not that we lack the brains, (remember Caral, and the Incas…), but rather the problem is that we act like our own gods in regard to our own abilities. And what are we doing about it? Well, as a student of Industrial Engineering I belong to a team called the “Organizational Intelligence Unit.” This team is a group of university students who share the objective of raising the competitiveness of the School. “How?” you ask. Well, ingenuity is a part of us so we suggest different projects to achieve change. Using different communication tools (the magazine, the virtual classroom, the blog, tri-fold pamphlets, the web page…) we find that while change may not be easy, it is not impossible.

Every change requires a period of transition during which nothing is clear and nobody is satisfied. Our vision, persistence, teamwork and leadership are indispensable. In order that the change last, we must change and reinforce both cultures and systems.

If one works for change all by himself the effort is pretty much in vain; together it’s much easier. A long time ago Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia were united by the highways of the Incas. Are we united today?