This Fall, the Global and Regional Studies Program welcomed its first exchange student under the auspices of its NAFTA Mobility grant. The grant brings together six universities—two from each NAFTA signatory country—to facilitate one-semester student exchanges. The student, Veronica Ficon, is a senior Global Studies major from Canadian partner Wilfrid Laurier University. Veronica’s course schedule includes our Global Studies senior seminar with Prof. Jonah Steinberg, which she reports is one of the most challenging courses she’s taken in college, and an introductory Canadian history course with CAS Interim Associate Dean Dave Massell, providing her with what she describes as an interesting American perspective on her country’s history.
Veronica is also taking a unique “parallel studies course” with Prof. Luis Vivanco, GRS Director and the grant’s faculty director at UVM. This course offers a coordinated curriculum, designed collaboratively by the faculty directors at each campus, that all participating exchange students take. Every two weeks, all the students and faculty from the six campuses meet virtually using Adobe Connect, a video conferencing application, to listen to a short faculty presentation and discuss common readings on topics related to social, political, and economic dynamics in North America. These presentations and discussions have been one of the most rich aspects of the course, as students and faculty not only come from distinct disciplinary backgrounds and national cultures, but also particular regions with distinctive identities and perspectives within their countries.
As part of this course, each student also conducts independent research at his or her visiting campus on a topic related to the role of cultural perceptions and misperceptions in the construction of North American identity. The students will present their research at a virtual conference in December. GRS will be offering this course to participating exchange students throughout the life of the grant, which ends in 2014.
Video conferencing screen shot of participating NAFTA Mobility grant students
Veronica Ficon shares her experience as a NAFTA Mobility Grant exchange student
More information on the NAFTA Mobility Grant