CELAC students from Mexico
Hodgin Hall provided the setting for a community reception welcoming 96 Mexican students to UNM to study English through the Center for English Language and American Culture.
Credit: Danielle Gilliam

The Consulate of Mexico in Albuquerque in partnership with the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed and celebrated 96 college students and faculty visiting from Mexico who are studying the English language for one month through The University of New Mexico Center for English Language & American Culture (CELAC).

The students and faculty received scholarships from the Mexican government through the historic Proyecta 100,000 – an ambitious and transformational project between the U.S. and Mexico to substantially increase student and academic mobility between the U.S. and Mexico. 

“These Mexican students are the first generation of the “Proyecta 100,000” program and they are ambassadors for the promotion of deeper understanding between Mexicans and New Mexicans,” said Mauricio Ibarra, Consul of Mexico for the Mexican Consulate in Albuquerque. “This is an exciting opportunity to create more extensive knowledge networks between Mexico and the U.S.”

In total, U.S. institutions will receive approximately 7,500 Mexican learners of English this calendar year through Proyecta 100,000. The initiative is part of a larger global trend to increase mobility between the U.S. and its neighbors across the Americas. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto formalized this commitment last year through the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research, also referred to as FOBESII.

Marking the arrival of the students to UNM and its CELAC program is notable in part to its newly established presence in Mexico through The New Mexico Trade & Higher Education Center of Mexico City (NMTHE), a partnership between UNM, the City of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico, which is designed to facilitate greater collaboration between the two countries by leveraging the connection between higher education and economic development sectors.

“Acquiring additional language capacity – whatever that language may be – is key to facilitating greater global education mobility, cultural awareness and understanding,” said Paul Edmunds, interim director for the UNM Global Education Office (GEO) and CELAC director. “CELAC is pleased to welcome these students to UNM and New Mexico and to provide a high quality study abroad and English language immersion experience.”

Edmunds said CELAC is a first step for many of these learners who have ambitious international education goals.

Mary Anne Saunders, special assistant to the UNM president for global initiatives, said, “CELAC is a great introduction to UNM and New Mexico. Many of our students decide to study or continue their education at UNM because of their experience with CELAC.”

Ernie C’DeBaca, interim vice-president for the AHCC Convention & Tourism division, said the AHCC is pleased to participate as a sponsor of the Proyecta 100,000 reception. “We work very closely with the Consul of Mexico, UNM and NMTHE in Mexico City and we look forward to exposing New Mexico’s great education assets to Mexican students, and hopefully their families, for years to come,” C’DeBaca said.