Through its participation in the “Proyecta 100,000” project proposed by the Mexican government, the College of the Canyons International Services and Programs finds itself in on the ground floor with one of the international learning community’s more ambitious ventures.
According to the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Mexico’s population of 116 million is notably underrepresented in terms of its international student population.
Despite the Spanish-speaking country’s close proximity to the United States, only an average of 14,000 students a year go on to receive schooling in America. By comparison, South Korea, a nation of 49 million people, sends 72,000 students to the U.S. every year.
To address this issue, the Mexican government orchestrated Proyecta 100,000.
The initiative, a cooperative of President Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” program, aims to send 100,000 Mexican students to the United States for English language education by the year 2018. In exchange, 50,000 American students are slated for education in Latin American countries during the same time horizon.
In just its first year of implementation, COC finds itself a key player in this progressive program.
The college was selected as one of 160 American institutions to host the first wave of Proyecta students, accommodating 100 Mexican students throughout the month of November for an accelerated crash course in English.
“We are very excited about the students coming from Mexico through the Proyecta project,” said Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine, director of International Services and Programs at the college.
Proyecta students are at COC to improve their English while gaining an improved understanding of American culture. Yet, the motives and backgrounds of the international Mexican students are diverse.
Some are college students, many are teachers, and a few are plainly Mexican citizens looking to take advantage of an educational opportunity. Participants range in age from 19 to 57-years-old.
“I have been in the United States one week, and the host families along with the university have given me a pretty great learning experience full of good moments,” said David Sarmiento, a 31-year-old teacher travelling from Mexico to America for the first time.
“After my enrollment got done I walked around the school for a bit to know its surroundings and the way of life for Americans,” added Sarmiento, “and the library seems like a great place to study.”
Sarmiento and his peers are currently enrolled in a single three-unit class that spans 16 days of instruction. In addition, the college has hosted a variety of interdisciplinary workshops and hands-on events have been held to provide students with a comprehensive multicultural experience.
To handle the financial burden of a month living in America, the Mexican government has allocated $3,500 to each student for living, food, and other expenses.
For housing, most students will spend November, and the Thanksgiving holiday, with a local host family.
“The college’s participation in Proyecta 100 demonstrates its commitment to comprehensive internationalization of the campus, and fosters a global mindset, not only for the students from Mexico,” said Cheng-Levine, “but also for the students on campus and our partners throughout the community.”