SHU Awarded Grant for Guatemala Student Exchange

News Story: June 21, 2018

Karreem Mebane, Professor Robin Danzak and Voytek Wloch
From left are Volunteer Programs & Service Learning Director Karreem Mebane, Associate Professor Robin Danzak and Global Affairs & English Language Institute Executive Director Voytek (Wojciech) Wloch.

Sacred Heart University, in collaboration with Guatemala’s Universidad Rafael Landívar, has won a $25,000 grant to debut a community-engaged student exchange among undergraduates in the health professions at both universities.

“Acting Globally, Thinking Locally,” which will begin in the 2019 spring semester for health science students, will include innovative, collaborative learning among the students, who will design and create projects that address global health challenges in both countries while boosting second language skills for all.

“This will be a great way to widen their perspectives,” said Robin Danzak, associate professor in SHU’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology, who accepted the grant at a Philadelphia conference on May 29. “Everybody is really excited about the collaboration.”

The core funding support for “Acting Globally, Thinking Locally” is through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund and its partner, Santander Bank, as part of the dynamic public-private sector partnership between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Embassies, corporations and foundations working together to stimulate connectivity and collaboration between higher education networks throughout the Americas.

Before they leave, the students will enroll in Culture and Global Health and will create teams to identify health challenges and devise solutions they can implement. The class will use the Collaborative Online International Learning model to connect the students with their counterparts in Guatemala in real time.

In June 2019, the Guatemalan students will travel to Fairfield, where they and SHU students will complete their projects through Hall Neighborhood House, a Bridgeport-based nonprofit that strives to educate, enrich and empower the lives of the city’s East Side residents. The SHU students will then travel to Guatemala to implement similar, community-based projects. The grant will cover airfare and some of the students’ living expenses in both countries. 

Danzak, who designed the program’s curriculum, said global learning projects allow students to experience cultural differences and communication styles they may encounter in their future health care careers.

Working on Spanish skills also will be a boon to the group, she said. All students accepted to the program will take a course, Spanish for the Health Professions, before they travel to Guatemala.

The U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced the grant, which is sponsored by Santander Bank.

“We are proud that our support of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund has helped hundreds of students participate in study-abroad programs, where they have broadened their education beyond the classroom and gained valuable insight into their host countries and cultures,” said Marie Veltre, Santander’s chief marketing and digital officer. “These life-changing experiences prepare students to participate in the global economy when they enter the workforce.”

100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund
Established in January 2014, the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is the dynamic public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. embassies, Partners of the Americans, MAFSA: Association of International Educators, corporations and foundations working together to stimulate the connectivity and strengthen regional education cooperation and competitiveness throughout the Americas. The Innovation Fund inspires U.S. universities and colleges to team up with higher education institutions in the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create new institutional partnerships that will increase student exchange and training opportunities.

As of May 2018, the Innovation Fund has awarded 157 grants to teams from 302 higher education institutions in 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere and 41 U.S. states. Innovation Fund grant-winning teams work together to build institutional capacity, increase student mobility, provide more training programs and contribute to workforce development in the Americas. More than 1,750 higher education institutions currently form part of the Innovation Network, with 1,000 universities and colleges in the United States.

To learn more and join the Innovation Network, visit www.100kstrongamericas.org.

Partners of the Americas
The mission of Partners of the Americas is to connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships. These partnerships create opportunity, foster understanding, and solve real-life problems. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy and founded in 1964 under the Alliance for Progress, Partners is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with international offices in Washington, D.C. www.partners.net or @partnersamerica.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators
With 10,000 members worldwide, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest non-profit professional association dedicated to international education programming and policy. www.nafsa.org or @NAFSA and www.connectingourworld.org or @ConnectOurWorld. 

Santander Bank, N.A.
Santander Bank, N.A., is one of the country’s largest retail and commercial banks with $74.5 billion in assets. With its corporate offices in Boston, the bank’s approximately 9,600 employees, over 600 branches, more than 2,000 ATMs and 2.1 million customers are principally located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE: SAN)–one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 125 million customers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. It is managed by Santander Holdings USA, Inc., Banco Santander’s intermediate holding company in the U.S. For more information on Santander Bank, visit www.santanderbank.com.