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Universidad Veritas and Alamo District Colleges create Symbiosis: the new student exchange program between Costa Rica and the US

Universidad Veritas and Alamo District Colleges launched a new student exchange program, which aims to be sustainable and have a social impact for its students and the communities involved.

The 100K Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

The initiative began during Barack Obama’s presidency, who created the 100K Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. The program was built around the importance of international student mobility programs. Through a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, foundations and corporations, it aims to generate international mobility opportunities for university students in the Americas.

Initially, Latin America was not the primary destination for US students. However, US authorities recognized the potential of the area and created the Innovation Fund with these countries as its focus.

As part of the Innovation Fund’s initiatives, it grants an economic reward to those Universities that establish a solid student mobility program. This prize is given to the Latin-American institutions that comply with the parameters and qualifications previously created.

The Innovation Funds requires a long-lasting partnership between a Latin American University and a US University, as well as their commitment to formulate and develop a project.

Universidad Veritas and Alamo District Colleges’ New Project

Universidad Veritas in partnership with Alamo District Colleges of San Antonio, Texas, crafted a project called “Symbiosis: Alamo Colleges and Universidad Veritas, Environmental Exchange.”

Universidad Veritas has made sustainability and innovation a key part of its education programs. It has continuously directed its efforts towards conducting extensive academic research, looking for new and ecological materials for architectural projects, bio-architecture and sustainable development. This is, precisely, what made Alamo District Colleges choose a partnership with Veritas.

The primary goal of said plan was to implement a new academic exchange model for students, based on the principles of Sustainability, Urbanism and Environment.

In order to develop the proposal, both Universities were required to form a team of 10 students and an accompanying professor.

For the first stage of the project, a Collaborative Online International Learning module was scheduled. Both Universities agreed to exchange knowledge via an online course, before heading to the field training in each country.

As established by both Universities, Alamo District College will teach Environmental Science and Universidad Veritas will impart Sustainability and Urbanism training. The lessons are expected to begin this April.

The second stage of the project will consist of field work for both teams. The students from Alamo District Colleges will embark on their journey to Costa Rica and the students from Universidad Veritas will travel to Texas.

Each team will focus on different areas: the Alamo apprentices will concentrate on sustainability work, specifically the marine and coastal ecosystems, mountain area and rivers from both rural and city areas; meanwhile, the Costa Rican students will perform duties related to urbanism.

The project designed by both universities is key, since it has a great impact on the community: the group of students who work on the project must belong to a vulnerable group and would not be able to access an international exchange by their own means.

Strengthening bonds

The good relations and mutual interest in cooperating in present and future projects, is highly valued and encouraged by the Americas Innovation Fund, as it compels the Universities involved to design a continuation plan that reflects their efforts of cooperation and interconnectivity.

On November 17th 2021, an event was held by representatives from both Universities. During this ceremony, Ronald Sasso (Universidad Veritas President) and Mike Flores (Alamo District Colleges President), along with the International Programs Directors from each School, signed a cooperation and exchange agreement. With this contract they expect to strengthen the bonds between them and promote educational plans.

For now, the program only involves Architecture and Interior Design students. Nevertheless, with the recent agreement, it is expected the program will be available for students enrolled in different careers and from various research areas. 

There is no doubt, this program will enhance and enrich the lives of many students from Costa Rica and the US, who seek professional and academic growth. Hopefully, it will also encourage more Universities from both countries to develop these initiatives.

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