Bringing the World to Pima

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Pima_internationalAn array of initiatives gives PCC students the tools to meet the global challenges of the 21st century

Like many Pima Community College students, Slav Ignacio first heard about PCC from friends already attending the school. And, like many PCC students, he received advice from a parent. His father, in a conversation at home, encouraged Ignacio to study Computer Engineering.

But unlike most PCC students, Ignacio’s home isn’t Tucson. It’s Luanda, the capital city of Angola, a nation in southwestern Africa, about 8,500 miles from PCC. Ignacio is one of more than 130 international students representing 24 countries on five continents who attended PCC in fall 2015.

“My eventual goal is to transfer to the U of A,” said Ignacio, who, despite his dad’s urging, has decided to study Computer Science instead.

A “cross-cultural response” to world problems

PCC is expanding its international students program as one part of a multifaceted effort to expand and enhance the PCC student experience through diverse global education initiatives.

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Slav Ignacio (right) with an international student from Iran

The reasoning behind the global approach is simple, says Chancellor Lee Lambert, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up on three continents: The future demands it.

“I can vouch for the power of meeting, talking to and sharing a meal with people from diverse cultures,” Lambert said. “Moreover, it is becoming increasingly obvious that in the 21st century, the political, economic and environmental challenges cannot be solved by one country, and must be met by a multi-national, cross-cultural response.”

Local students benefit from a globalized PCC, says Acting Vice President for International Development Ricardo Castro-Salazar. “Internationalized colleges are financially stronger and can better serve the community. International students support programs for all students by paying out-of-state tuition, but the impact goes beyond a short-term revenue increase. Students who hold a positive view of their host country see it as a desirable place for trade, tourism and investment.”

Bécalos, Proyecta and more

PCC is involved in several global education initiatives. For example, PCC is one of only six U.S. community colleges taking part in the SEP-Bécalos-Santander Universidades International Program. In fall 2015, 58 students from Mexico attended PCC’s West and Downtown campuses.

The students took a variety of courses, ranging from Marketing, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Computer Information Systems, Biology and Education. They also took English as a Second Language courses and participated in English conversation groups.

Two summer 2015 programs offered similar cross-cultural opportunities. Fourteen students from Mexico took part in a program that combined English studies, leadership training and bi-cultural activities.

“A great journey begins with a great first step,” said Gabriela Bañuelos Soto, one of the students, adding that attending the program was “an enriching dream.”

Development of faculty was a collaboration between instructors from PCC and 14 instructors from Instituto Tecnologico de Sonora (ITSON). They worked together at PCC to learn new teaching strategies and techniques.

“I am lucky to be here,” said ITSON’s Carolina Valenzuela.

Global education at PCC also has been enhanced by the receipt of a $90,000 grant to the PCC Foundation from the government of Mexico to support attainment of postsecondary education by immigrants and Americans of Mexican descent.

As for Ignacio, the student from Angola, attending PCC has been a positive experience.

“It’s been awesome so far,” he said. “The classes aren’t big. The faculty is nice.”

- Paul Schwalbach

Full-time International Students at PCC in Fall 2015

Mexico: 42
China: 30
Vietnam: 13
South Korea: 11
Saudi Arabia: 8
Unknown nation: 7
Angola: 5
Japan: 4
Germany: 2
Canada: 2
Italy: 2
Algeria, Cameroon, Denmark, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Israel, Libya, Norway, Philippines, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom: 1 each

 Total: 139

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