Strengthening CIEE's Ties with Mexico

Authored by:
James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

Last week, I had the pleasure to be in Mérida, Mexico, where I attended an event at State High School #8, Carlos Castillo Peraza, to celebrate the launch of a new scholarship that will cover all program and insurance costs for a select Mexican high school student to travel to the United States on a J-1 visa and live with a host family, while studying at an American high school.
 
The scholarship is the result of a partnership between CIEE and Ultrex, an agent that we’ve worked with since 2006, who anticipates that 80 J-1 high school students from Mexico will study in the United States in the 2020-21 academic year.
 
In the last few years, Ultrex has sought to expand access to the J-1 high school program beyond fee-paying students by offering scholarships to the indigenous population of the Yucatán Peninsula where Ultrex is located. Last year, two students were sponsored on this opportunity. This new fully-funded scholarship announced last week will continue making intercultural exchange more accessible to members of the community, by allowing a student from an underserved population to have a life-changing experience where they will learn about culture in the United States, improve their English language skills, and grow in many other ways.
 
During the event at Carlos Castillo Peraza, I was honored to meet Profra. Loreto Villanueva Trujillo, Secretary of Education of the Government of the State of Yucatán; Mtra. Linda Basto Ávila, Director of Higher Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education of the Government of the State of Yucatán; and Courtney Beale, Consul General of the United States in Mérida; and share with them CIEE’s commitment to expanding access to cultural exchange programs at the high school level in Mexico.
 
My favorite part of last week’s event was the opportunity to speak with Mexican educators and students. In 2019, CIEE placed Mexican high school students in American communities in 21 states across the nation -- from Arkansas to Rhode Island, from Vermont to Oregon. I’m proud that in partnership with Lic. Rubén Domínguez, President of Ultrex México, CIEE has helped forge life-long personal connections between young people and communities in Mexico and the United States, thereby fostering greater understanding between the two nations.
 
This new scholarship is just one way that CIEE is committed to strengthening our ties with Mexico. In Mérida, last year we opened the CIEE Global Institute - Yucatán, where college and high school students can study abroad to work on their Spanish language proficiency, take STEM courses, or engage in service learning. In 2020, CIEE anticipates sending more than 70 American high school students to Mérida through our Global Navigator program, and, in partnership with Ultrex, we look forward to connecting even more Mexican high school students with opportunities in the United States.
 
Hundreds of friendships have been forged between people from both sides of the Mexico-United States border during these intercultural exchange experiences, which, in the words of Senator William Fulbright, "can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations." 

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