Mexican indigenous students to study at University of Lethbridge, furthering collaborative relationship

A group of 20 indigenous female students from Mexico will spend four weeks at the University of Lethbridge this summer studying southern Alberta First Nations, as well as English and Canadian culture, as part of a partnership agreement between the U of L and the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

The program, organized by the Council for Science and Technology in the State of Quintana Roo (COQCYT), and funded by the National Council of Science and Technology of the United Mexican States (CONACYT),is designed to assist students with their graduate studies in Mexico.

Students will participate in interactive English as a Second Language classes that focus on Canadian culture. These classes will be augmented by three weekly off campus cultural activities. Additionally, Mexican students will participate in a peer partner program where they are matched with undergraduate students from the U of L. The program begins June 30.

The University has been working with officials from the State of Quintana Roo to further explore possible collaborations since the beginning of the year. U of L President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Mike Mahon, says the program will not only assist participating students in the short-term, but will create individual, institutional and national collaboration opportunities in the future.

“By providing this program, these students will have a greater understanding of southern Alberta, which will assist them in their respective endeavours,” says Mahon. “I am confident that the linkages that are built on our campus this summer will serve our University and respective countries well by fostering greater understanding of our respective cultures.”

This initiative came about due to the U of L’s involvement with a consortium of 10 indigenous universities in Mexico and several undergraduate universities in Canada that are focused on aboriginal education. In particular, the U of L has a close relationship with the Mayan University in Quintana Roo and has set up student exchange and cooperative work study agreements.

CONACYT is an agency of the Mexican federal government designed to strengthen the country's scientific and technological capabilities. Areas of strategic importance for the organization include health, natural resources and the environment, alternative energy, education, social development, information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and transportation. CONACYT administers several funding programs in education in Mexico, including specific programs for indigenous women.

Building international connections is a key component of the University’s strategic direction to enhance relationships with external communities, as detailed in Destination 2020 – the U of L’s strategic plan.