Twenty-seven Mexican professionals—engineers, school teachers, and professors—are learning English at Worcester State University’s Intensive English Language Institute. They’re here through the new Proyecta 100,000 exchange program between the Mexican and U.S. governments.
The Mexican professionals were enthusiastic as they arrived on the Worcester State University campus to begin their month-long studies learning English through the Intensive English Language Institute.
“Being part of this program at Worcester State University has been the greatest experience in my life,” says Daniel Méndez Cabello, an industrial engineer. “I have enjoyed it since day one. I love the teachers and this environment. The city is beautiful. Everything has been great.”
The 27 students are participating in Proyecta 100,000, an exchange program that aims to have 100,000 Mexicans study in the United States by 2018. It also intends to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Mexico from 4,100 to 50,000.
“We are participating in this program because Worcester State University has a goal of increasing internationalization and globalization on our campus,” says Intensive English Language Institute Director Susan Seibel, who oversees this special exchange program. “In order to be a citizen of the world, each of us needs to respect, understand, and learn from other cultures. We need to be fluent in more than one language. Most careers today require the ability to work with ease with others from many backgrounds.”
President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto formed a Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research in May 2013. The Proyecta 100,000 plan is one of the results of the forum that seeks to expand economic opportunities for U.S. and Mexico citizens.
The students are on campus for 4 weeks studying English 19 hours per week, with time on the weekends for fun activities such as move nights, tours of Worcester, shopping, and trips to Boston and New York City. They are interacting with Worcester State students, living in Dowden Hall, attending campus events, and participating in other classes on campus.
“The Worcester State University English program has increased my ability to think globally and to understand the real meaning of multiculturalism,” says Francisco Serrano Camarena, professor of economics and business at the Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila. “Learning English under these circumstances was just amazing and a wonderful opportunity for improving my speaking and listening skills.”
In their last week of classes, the students say they not only gained more confidence in the English language, but learned about the different cultures.
“This experience is helping me to see the differences and similarities between my country and the U.S., to break taboos and misconceptions or wrong images from Mexicans to American and all the way around,” observes Miriam Martinez Martinez, a marketer and English teacher.
English teacher Erick Ivan Alvarado Cardenas adds: “Being in the States has been one of the greatest opportunities in my life. Now I can contrast my culture with the American one. I’m sure this will rock my life forever.”
“Coming to Worcester State University has been a great experience because I can learn how to speak English more fluently with actual native English speakers,” notes Senior Architecture student Sofia Dolores Valdés Magana. “It has helped me gain confidence and stop being afraid or insecure to use English language because I love English.”
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