Neider Andrey Devia Merchan

Geography & Environmental Studies; Anthropology

Photo: Neider  Devia Merchan

Neider is an indigenous belonging to the Pijao ethnic group from Colombia. He got his bachelor degree in International business at the Universidad del Tolima, and his master degree in Amazon regional development at the Universidade Federal de Roraima in Brazil thanks to a scholarship from the Organization of American States. He comes from a region located in an area of Colombia that has been deeply affected by violence. It has severely hindered the development of his community as a whole. Neider applied for and received the Fulbright Scholarship for Indigenous Communities of his country to do a doctorate program in the US. His goals in pursuing graduate studies center upon multidisciplinary research regarding the concept of ethno-development, and how state-led policies towards racial and ethnic minorities can provide better living conditions for indigenous peoples guaranteeing the physical and cultural survival of them. His primary goal after completing his doctorate degree is to teach at a Colombian institution of higher education where he can promote awareness among, empowerment of, and self-discovery for young people. This is the only way that young people will become committed enough to contribute to the development of their own communities. Furthermore, he plans to bring together multidisciplinary teams to devise public policies focused on ethno-development and the formulation, implementation, and assessment of public policies for the indigenous peoples in the Americas. Neider also lived more than two years in Iquitos Peru, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.