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Global Scholars Head to Brazil

Published date: January 8, 2019

2018-2019 Brazil program

Virginia State University (VSU) and CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange) have partnered to make study abroad more accessible and more affordable for VSU students. President Abdullah met with some of the students to bid them bon voyage as they prepare to travel to Brazil. This year, the University launched VSU SAGE (Student Achievement in Global Education), a three-year pilot program that combines high-quality academic experiences and guided experiential learning designed to enhance students' global awareness and cross-cultural competence. The program targets first-year students but is also open to sophomores and juniors of any major.

The winter term program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is integrated into a global studies course that explores contemporary Brazilian culture through the lens of intercultural studies. Students will learn about contemporary cultural, societal and political themes in Rio de Janeiro, explore cultural expressions of the African diaspora in Rio de Janeiro, and delve into culture and life of Rio's many favelas and peripheral communities. Says freshman psychology major Sydney Stewart, "Traveling abroad will allow me the opportunity to not only experience a different culture but also take what I learn and apply it to my future studies as an aspiring psychologist."

The centerpiece of VSU SAGE is the President's Global Scholar Award, a pledge to help erode the cost barrier to study abroad by significantly reducing program costs to students. President Abdullah believes that the program supports VSU's goal of offering impactful, transformative global engagement experiences to students. Says Agriculture major Deanndra Richards, "Going abroad my freshman year will not just open my eyes to the world, but to other opportunities offered. Also, it looks great to employers-they want to hire well-rounded employees." That sentiment is echoed by Bethany Daniel, a freshman mass communication major who concluded, "By studying abroad I'll have the chance to see a side of my major I may not have here at Virginia State." The Dr. George H. Bennett Office for International Education works closely with VSU's Academic Center for Excellence to expose first-year students to these opportunities.

Of the 332,727 U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit in 2016-2017, only 6.1 percent were African Americans (Open Doors Report, 2018). The VSU-CIEE partnership is part of CIEE's "Project Passport" initiative, which helps MSI (minority-serving institution) presidents build their institution's capacity to increase their students' study abroad participation. Established in 1947, CIEE, a non-profit education abroad provider, sends over 10,000 students abroad each year through over 200 international programs in about 40 countries (www.ciee.org

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