The 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative was originally conceived during President Obama’s administration with the stated goal “to underscore the critical relationship between broader educational opportunity and greater regional prosperity.” The initiative’s central objective is to increase study abroad opportunities between the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Over the years, Meridian has worked on multiple projects aimed at building stronger cooperation through this initiative. Most recently, an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project focused on Expanding Sustainable Education Partnerships engaged eight higher education leaders from four Latin American countries exploring future linkages with U.S. educational institutions.
Over the course of a three-week virtual exchange, the participants met with various associations, including NAFSA: Association of Higher Educators, the Inter-American Dialogue, and the American Council on Education. In addition, they connected with eleven colleges and universities from seven cities across the United States. The breadth of the program allowed the group to learn about more niche aspects of the U.S. higher education system, including Minority Serving Institutions and Community Colleges.
While reflecting on the impact of the program, the participants emphasized how their desire for international collaboration had been reinvigorated. While many had been engaged with NAFSA in the past, they now plan to re-join the association and look forward to attending future conferences. They also learned about free resources that are available to non-members, which they can make use of immediately.
Connecting with a wide variety of higher education institutions across the United States allowed them to learn about different types of programs that could be beneficial for both student and faculty exchanges. Many had also never been aware of Minority Serving Institutions, and meeting with them taught the group how our countries face similar challenges in providing equitable access to marginalized populations.
The greatest outcome of the program has been the group’s collaboration amongst each other. Inspired by a presentation on Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) from the American Council on Education, the participants have started drafting a proposal to create future partnerships between their institutions. Aspects of the proposal include implementing COIL, faculty training, research, language instruction, and exchanging best practices. They plan to use the various new resources at their disposal, including the connections they made during the program and the IVLP alumni network. They also have taken suggestions presented by the Inter-American Dialogue in their impact study of the initiative. As a result, they learned what had been missing from the program and now have the advantage of taking their recommendations into consideration for their proposals.
This experience will further solidify cooperation between institutions in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean to help accomplish the objectives of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative. Meridian was proud to implement this project and hopes to continue fostering this collaboration to amplify the impact.
Collaborating Global Ties U.S. Community Based Members: