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Language and Culture Institute wins grant to boost U.S.-Argentine exchange

August 27, 2018

People standing in front of the U.S. and Argentine flags
From left: Dr. Donald Back, director of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute (LCI); Edward Prado, U.S. ambassador to Argentina; Alejandra Pertini, Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA) exchange coordinator; Patricia Parera, LCI associate director for partnerships; Dr. Maria Verónica Muñoz, director of UCA's Office of International Affairs; Christopher Stevens, president of Chevron Argentina; and Dr. Miguel Ángel Schiavone, UCA rector.

One of 10 recipients of a 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant, Virginia Tech and Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA) will collaborate to establish a program to address accessibility in study abroad that will include STEM courses for international students, service learning, and faculty/researcher exchange.

“Virginia Tech is committed to placing its graduates on a path toward becoming global citizens capable of thriving in an interconnected world,” said Donald Back, director of the Language and Culture Institute, which will lead the binational effort at Virginia Tech. “This grant signals the importance of the work being done as the university advances its global land-grant vision.”

The grant is part of the Argentina-U.S. Workforce Development competition sponsored by Chevron and the State Department. With support from this public-private sector collaboration, the competition will facilitate 10 new higher-education partnerships exclusively for universities and colleges in the United States and higher-education institutions in Argentina.

“Public-private partnerships address society’s most pressing concerns by fostering innovation that builds 21st century’s workforce critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems,” said Edward Prado, U.S. ambassador to Argentina. “The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund provides Argentina and the United States with dynamic partnerships that fuels economic prosperity for the region.”

The Virginia Tech-UCA team aims to promote science and innovation collaboration among the partnering institutions.

“We are excited to partner with Universidad Católica Argentina to develop a program that fosters true collaboration in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” said Patricia Parera, associate director for partnerships at the Language and Culture Institute. “This collaboration represents a unique opportunity to promote cultural exchange and advance understanding among students at Virginia Tech and in Argentina.”

In 2017, Virginia Tech received an Innovation Fund grant to expand its partnership with Universidad de Piura in Peru to reach low-income and underserved students from rural communities in both countries and bring them into contact with language and intercultural learning while enhancing their global knowledge of STEM subjects.

The Innovation Fund inspires U.S. universities and colleges to team up with higher-education institutions in the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create partnerships that construct bridges of connectivity, increase academic exchanges, provide access to training opportunities, and strengthen regional education cooperation and competitiveness throughout the Americas.

Since January 2014, the Innovation Fund has awarded 178 grants to 350 teams of higher education institutions from 25 countries and 41 U.S. states. Innovation Fund partnerships provide more access to training opportunities for students to gain technical/linguistic/cross-cultural skills — critical for today’s global workforce. Innovation Fund grant awards are typically $25,000 each — with grant-winning teams contributing more resources on average of 1.5 times — to implement sustainable academic exchange programs and increase opportunities for students in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.