Universidad de las Américas Puebla and Virginia Commonwealth University will develop an exchange program for Physics students from both institutions, focused on language training and support for local communities, thanks to funding received from the US Department of State through the education initiative 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund.
In the global context, universities continuously seek to establish student exchange programs abroad, not only for academic reasons but also for social ones, to train young people committed to their profession and their community. The US government has several initiatives to support mobility programs for students and faculty from other countries. One of these actions is the 100,000 Strong in the Americas program, an innovation fund that encourages American institutions to associate with Latin American universities to create bilateral training opportunities.
The idea is to grant scholarships to university teams who, through a contest, propose a project for their students to develop technical skills in diverse disciplines through joint labor. “The plan is to create synergy in academic, research, and work exchanges. In our case, the project is to take science workshops to Telesecundarias (distance-learning junior high schools) in Mexico, and to underprivileged communities in the US”, explained Dr. Melina Gómez Bock, a faculty member of the Actuarial Sciences, Physics, and Math Department at UDLAP and leader of the presentation process.
Virginia Commonwealth University found this project attractive and, for several months now, both universities have been working closely to develop a project. It was presented and accepted, earning a grant that will support with paid expenses American and Mexican students for activities related to the development of teaching and outreach strategies in science. “We hope that they will participate in the summer of next year. We will send students from Universidad de las Américas Puebla’s Physics Department and receive students from Virginia Commonwealth University at the same time”, stated Erika Barba Salce, head of the UDLAP International Programs Department.
With the experience that they gain, it is expected that they will work with other academic departments from Universidad de las Américas Puebla, so that the doors will open not only for students from Virginia but from other places in the United States, since the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund has different calls throughout the year for different knowledge areas in which UDLAP wishes to participate. “For UDLAP, these achievements are always important because they are the result of a collaboration from different areas of the institution, and they highlight the recognition and support of international organizations towards our institution. From now on, the work is for the Department of Actuarial Sciences, Physics, and Mathematics and the International Affairs Department, who have to carry out what was proposed in the call”, added Dr. Sergio Picazo Vela, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies.