Competing against more than 150 different proposals, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) was one of just nine universities in the United States and Latin America selected to receive a $25,000 innovation grant for study abroad and exchange programs under President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative.
The goal for 100,000 Strong in the Americas is to reach at least 100,000 U.S. students studying, training or researching abroad in the countries of the Western Hemisphere each year by 2020. An equal number of students from other countries in the hemisphere is also expected to learn and train in the United States. The initiative is aimed at enhancing competitiveness, increasing prosperity and better preparing a globally aware workforce.
CSULB’s grant—awarded to the National Council of La Raza/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health and its Centro Salud es Cultura in Long Beach—will be used to create a 12-day study abroad program with partners at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico, Kaxil Kiuic Biocultura Reserve, and other community partners throughout the region.
The program, under the direction of CSULB faculty members Enrique and Britt Rios-Ellis, will focus on increasing student understanding of Mayan tradition as well as health and cultural issues in contemporary Mexico.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Cal State Long Beach to cement partnerships in the region for students today and in the future,” said Enrique Rios-Ellis, a lecturer in the Chicano and Latino Studies Department. “This course will be offered Aug. 4-15 and will continue to be offered each summer afterwards.
“As delegates of the U.S. Mexico Foundation, Britt and I have been able to visit the region and form strong partnerships with the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan, Kaxil Kiuic, and the Fundación de las Haciendas del Mundo Maya, among others,” he added. “This summer we will be hosting students from la Universidad Intercultural Maya in Quintana Roo and building two-way exchange programs. We are very excited to show students, particularly those of Mexican and Latin American origin, the rich cultural gifts of the Mayan Yucatan. Ultimately these opportunities could be offered to students throughout the CSU system.”
Offered through the summer session, the course is titled “Linking Latino Health and Culture in the Contemporary Yucatán Peninsula” (HSC 420 International Health). Britt Rios-Ellis, director of the Center for Latino Community Health and a health sciences professor, described it as a unique opportunity to learn about factors affecting health and cultural expression in Mayan communities.
“The center and the centro are thrilled to offer these opportunities to CSULB students,” she said. “This is something that we have wanted to do for a long time and we are grateful to the 100,000 Strong Foundation for helping us make this dream a reality.”
Program organizers are already recruiting for this summer’s trip. Graduate and undergraduate students from all majors are eligible to participate, and for undergraduates the course fulfills a general education requirement. Partial scholarships are available to the first 15 students who enroll to help cover the cost of student flights and other expenses.
For more information, contact Maryan Santa Cruz at 562/985-5312. To register, call CSULB’s College of Continuing and Professional Education Student Services Department at 562/985-5561.
The other eight colleges and universities receiving grants include Edgewood College in Madison, Wis.; Montclair State University in New Jersey.; North Carolina State University; Northeastern University in Boston; University of Colorado; University of South Dakota; Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, Colombia; and Universidad de San Andres in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The grants are being funded by Santander Universities, a division of Santander Bank. Santander Universities has committed $1 million over four years to support the educational exchange program being implemented by Partners of the Americas Foundation, one of the organizations the State Department selected to lead the initiative.
“The citizens of the Western Hemisphere share much in common-and therefore it makes a lot of sense that we tackle our common challenges together as well,” said Steve Vetter, president and CEO of Partners of the Americas. “By addressing the needs of our students, colleges and universities, and businesses in new and creative ways, we can build a brighter future for all. That is exactly what 100,000 Strong is designed to do.”
The announcement regarding the grant awards was made by the U.S. State Department, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators on May 25, at the first 100,000 Strong in the Americas capacity building workshop in San Diego.
Learn more about the 100,000 Strong in the Americas at www.100kstrongamericas.org.