Central Lakes College will receive $604,737 to host 18 students from Central America and the Caribbean for two years through a Youth Scholarships program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The students, who will arrive in August, will come from countries participating in the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development program administered by Georgetown University’s Center for Intercultural Education and Development. Those countries are Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
Suresh Tiwari, vice president of academic and student affairs at the community and technical college in Brainerd and Staples, announced Friday that CLC is the only partner institution in Minnesota selected for the two-year grant and one of nine colleges nationwide awarded the federal grant.
“It doubles our international student enrollment,” he said, noting that “it is a wonderful complement to the Community Colleges for International Development program that has been at CLC for three years.
“It moves the college forward as an institution of global competence with cultural influence on the larger community,” Tiwari said.
The SEED scholarships provide training to youth and community leaders from economically disadvantaged and historically underserved populations, including women and ethnic/indigenous groups. The goal is to enable the students to become change agents in their countries’ development.
“The impact these students have is tremendous,” said Kayra Fili Alhambra, assistant director of SEED at Georgetown University. “They receive much more than technical training. This is a development program that makes them agents of change. They acquire critical thinking skills and self-responsibility.”
The 18 college-age individuals will be selected within a few weeks. They will be enrolled in the Business Management Associate Degree program at CLC, where they will be trained, receive leadership skills enhancement, and learn English as a second language.
The focus will be on civil society, volunteerism, free-market economy, and democratic participation as practiced in the U.S., similar to the CCID initiative, which as with SEED, operates under the auspices of the U.S. State Department.
Central Lakes College has hosted 21 CCID students since it became a participant in the 2009-10 academic year. The students spend one year at CLC and come from as far as Indonesia and South Africa.
Host families will be arranged for the first year, after which the SEED students will be in an apartment complex adjacent to the Brainerd campus. All will return to their respective countries following their time here, having completed a minimum 120-hour internship.
First priority for the incoming students will be assisting with the English language. Most of the participants are from indigenous, rural, and minority populations and arrive with little or no English ability. Structured ESL instruction is required during their first two semesters.
The college also will provide introductory classes in business as part of the program that aims to develop entrepreneurial skills as well as specific skills in areas of small and medium business management and marketing, and financial and personnel management.