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GSPP Students named Global Development Fellows

Can movie screenings have a social impact in rural Southeast Asia?

This summer, GSPP student Cesar Zulaica hopes to find out. He and fellow GSPP student Diogo Prosdocimi are two of a handful of UC Berkeley graduate students selected to be a part of USAID’s Global Development Fellowship, which supports “cutting edge solutions to address… pressing development challenges.”

Before coming to the Goldman School, Diogo worked as the Under Secretary for Transport Regulation in the state of Minas Gerais, the second most populous state in Brazil.

“My focus was on transportation policy, public-private partnerships and the regulation of a broad set of public services,” he says.

Diogo’s project for the Global Development Fellowship will develop new models for road maintenance and improvement for South Africa, with an emphasis on increasing access to public services like education and healthcare. A secondary goal will be to measure and optimize the impact on South Africa’s workforce, much of which is underemployed and is compensate with “shadow wages.”

“We’ll measure the minimal road infrastructure needed to create access to health care and education for rural communities, estimate the shadow prices of unskilled and semi-skilled labor and help the government distinguish the discretionary funds from the money it is required to set aside for rural service roads under its constitutional obligation,” says Diogo.

Cesar Zulaica came to the Goldman School to hone his passion for national and international development work. In his native Mexico, he worked for the federal government in institutions under the Ministry of Finance, working to broaden access to financial services for marginalized communities.

“I came to the Goldman School to learn how to design policies and programs that are better tailored to address the needs of rural and marginalized communities and other developing economies,” he says.

As part of the GDF program, Cesar will participate in a project called Mobile Movies, which aims to impact positive behavioral changes in rural communities across Southeast Asia by using technological innovations and movie screenings.

“The presentations will help communities learn how to use positive products (e.g. antibacterial soap, water filters, and solar lanterns) that improve their quality of life,” says Cesar. “My duties will include gathering data and evidence for process improvement and coordinating the field activities by visiting rural communities where the project is active.”

Cesar hopes this project will strengthen his understanding of rural needs and provide the skills needed to overcome the obstacles that arise from doing fieldwork in diverse countries.

“The GDF also provides a unique opportunity to part of a growing professional network that shares problem-solving skills and technical knowledge for the fight against global poverty.”

Diogo hopes that his project with the GDF will help him sharpen his analytical skills and combine learning, doing and leading in a way that will benefit others.

“My experience in the Brazilian public sector was oriented toward coordinating and leading projects, helping me to develop praxis and leadership knowledge,” he says. “The equilibrium between praxis, leadership and theoretical knowledge is about making my action as a policymaker more harmonious to spread it over my community.”