West Virginia State Officials, Bluefield State, Look Forward to Federal Grant Opportunities for International Education – West Virginia MetroNews | Team Cansler

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University and Bluefield State University receive government grants to expand international educational opportunities for students.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), West Virginia State University (WVSU), and Bluefield State University (BSU) have received a two-year, $210,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct programs for Strengthening and improving undergraduate support in international studies and foreign languages ​​in West Virginia.

The grant was announced last week. dr James Natsis, director of international studies and assistant professor of modern foreign languages ​​at WVSU, told MetroNews it will open up opportunities for students to travel abroad.

dr James Natsis

“There is not always a lack of willingness to leave the USA, often the means to do so are lacking. The scholarship allows us and Bluefield State to offer our students the opportunity to study abroad,” said Natsis.

The scholarship, along with the Commission’s international efforts, is designed to enable these West Virginia students to develop foreign language skills, complete international internships, and pursue study abroad opportunities.

Natsis, who also coordinates international studies at WVSU, said the state needs more support with these studies. He pointed out that West Virginia’s most recent U.S. census data is the latest in foreign-born residents per capita and non-English language residents per capita.

“Personally, I think there is a connection between our economic problems and stagnation and the lack of immigration and internationalization,” Natsis said.

A press release said that through this new International Studies and Foreign Languages ​​Undergraduate 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 create new opportunities for students to access international experiences.

Natsis expects students to be international student ambassadors, pursue internationally focused internships with global companies and organizations, and study in places like Canada and Washington DC

Natsis said he thanks the HEPC for its support, as funding such a grant could help improve the state’s international relations.

“We need to be a little smarter about global awareness, global literacy and including people from outside the region. Not just from abroad, but from people inside the United States as well,” he said.

“The state needs to redouble and leverage this type of initiative to set the stage for the next decade and beyond and help us become more globally competitive.”

dr Sudhakar R. Jamkhandi, director of international initiatives and professor of English at BSU, said in a press release: “This scholarship award will enable Bluefield State University students to gain an understanding of the US role in foreign policy and its participation in the Studying abroad and study abroad opportunities will enable them to understand the need to interact on the international stage with an appreciation of other cultures of Canada and Mexico.

“They will appreciate seeing 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 purpose for humility and growth respect for people in other countries.”

The press release details the commission’s work in partnership with WVSU, BSU and other institutions over the next two years, including:

  • 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.

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