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June 20, 2003- Students of Spanish at the University of the Virgin Islands will be able to spend a semester or a summer studying at the Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Mexico, beginning this fall.
UVI has entered into an exchange agreement with the university's Center for Bilingual Multicultural Studies that also will allow for students at the Cuernavaca institution to study at UVI.
The program is the culmination of talks initiated two years ago by Violeta Donovan, UVI assistant professor of Spanish, with the president of Universidad Internacional, Javier Espinosa Romero, according to a UVI release..
Two students from Cuernavaca are expected to attend classes at UVI in the fall. UVI is seeking students interested in studying at the Mexican school. The exchange is an opportunity for students to gain first-hand experience in another culture as well as to hone their skills in a second language, Donovan said. "It takes a special type of person, a person who is open and will venture out," she said.
At Universidad Internacional, students are expected to do most of their course work in Spanish, although English-language support is provided. "They are accustomed to addressing the needs of English-speaking students," Donovan said. "They have similar agreements with several other universities on the mainland."
She noted that the exchange program "is an option" for UVI students. "If you come to UVI and you are interested in really learning Spanish as a second language, this program is for you," she said. Those who will benefit the most, she said, "are students who really understand the importance of knowing a second language – and in this region Spanish is one of the languages that they should know."
According to Gwen-Marie Moolenaar, UVI provost, the university has several exchange agreements for students and faculty with mainland and regional schools, but this one is the first with a non-U.S. institution outside of the Caribbean.
The program is "a good example of how UVI is increasing diversity in the student population, as well as providing opportunities for our students to have extended learning experiences," UVI President LaVerne Ragster said.
The program is coordinated through the Humanities Division Modern Language Area. For more information, e-mail to Prof. Donovan or call her at 693-1349.

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