$210,000 Grant to Expand International Education at WVSU and BSU – WVNS-TV | Team Cansler

CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, West Virginia State University (WVSU) and Bluefield State University (BSU) have received a two-year, $210,000 grant from the US Department of Education to conduct empowerment programs and to support student improvement classes in international studies and foreign languages ​​in West Virginia.

The scholarship, in conjunction with the Commission’s international efforts, will enable more West Virginia students to develop language skills, complete international internships and study abroad opportunities.

“International education strengthens our country’s economy and the academic quality and cultural diversity of our campuses. West Virginia was home to 4,152 international students in 2019, compared to 2,825 in 2022 — a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we’re working with institutions to find ways to rebuild the number of international students showing an interest in West Virginia. Efforts like this, which increase international opportunities for domestic students, help us create a global culture on our campuses that benefits our students while attracting international students.”

dr Clark Egnor, Commission International Programs Coordinator and co-author of the grant

Through this new Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) scholarship, the commission will lay the foundation for “Global West Virginia” at WVSU and BSU and pave the way for expanded collaboration across West Virginia to internationalize degree programs and new ones Opportunities for students to provide access to international experiences. In addition, WVSU and BSU will work to improve opportunities for students to undertake internationally oriented internships with global companies and organizations while developing students’ foreign language skills at an advanced level.

“This is an exceptional time for our International Studies and Modern Foreign Languages ​​programs at West Virginia State University. The funding will give our students the opportunity to improve their language skills through study abroad periods in Mexico or Quebec, Canada over the next two summers, and to participate in short-term “Study Away” experiences in Washington, DC, and Ontario and Quebec. Canada. Several of our International Studies majors also work as ‘student ambassadors’ to gain experience in organizing and promoting study programs abroad.”

dr James Natsis, Director of International Studies at WVSU

“This scholarship award will allow Bluefield State University students to develop an understanding of the role of the United States in foreign policy and how their participation in the undergraduate and study abroad opportunities will allow them to realize the need to interact on the international Stage with appreciation to understand other cultures of Canada and Mexico. They will appreciate looking at these two countries through the lens of French and Spanish, and hopefully begin a lifelong passion for helping others – not just in their own neighborhoods, but in those of other countries with a greater sense of humility and a growing sense of respect for people in other countries.”

dr Sudhakar R. Jamkhandi, Director of International Initiatives and Professor of English at BSU.

The Commission’s work in partnership with WVSU, BSU and other institutions over the next two years will include:

  • Establishment of a new mobile study abroad office at the state level to support WVSU and BSU with study abroad programming and to expand the concept to other campuses;
  • Developing four new nationwide study abroad programs to be offered in summers 2023 and 2024, focused on North America to leverage the French and Spanish languages ​​in Canada and Mexico;
  • Establish a “Global Competence Certificate” to recognize the valuable global competences that students acquire when studying or doing an internship abroad or gaining significant international experience during their studies; and,
  • Hosting a statewide internationalization conference in the fall of 2023, open to all West Virginia faculty and staff involved in international education at their campus.

The Commission plans to extend this work to other higher education institutions after the first two UISFL fellowship years.

Since 2006, the commission has operated Study West Virginia, an initiative representing 11 public universities working to promote the state and its campuses as an international study destination. This work includes educational mission roadshows, virtual college fairs, tours, marketing and public relations. Member institutions also have the opportunity to collaborate with higher education institutions around the world through the US Department of State’s J-1 visa and exchange visitor program. Since 2016, more than 40 agreements have been concluded in 20 countries.

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