The U.S. Agency for International Development has announced a $35 million grant for 10 partnerships between universities in the United States and in Mexico as part of the Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships program.
“These institutions not only impart knowledge that serves development, but also imparts cross-cultural understanding that is critical in addressing the problems of an often divided world,” says Adolfo A. Franco, assistant administrator of USAID.
The TIES initiative is a $50 million, eight-year collaborative program between the U.S. government, U.S. and Mexican educational institutions and the private sectors of both countries. The program is also a tool for enhancing the capability of both countries’ higher education institutions and should help Mexico benefit from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Officials at the University of Texas at San Antonio and American University say training from these institutions will give Mexican participants the skills to respond more effectively to Mexico’s development challenges and opportunities.
The partnering institutions are: Southwestern University Law School and Tec de Monterrey; American University and Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca; Oregon State University and Universidad de Guadalajara; the University of Arizona and Universidad de Baja California; California State University-Fullerton and Universidad Autonoma de Tlaxcala; the University of North Texas and Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara; the University of Georgia and Universidad Pedagogica Veracruzana and Escuela Normal Veracruzana; Duquesne University and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes; the University of Texas at San Antonio and Universidad Veracruzana; and Western Illinois University and Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro, and Universidad de la Selva.
Robert M. McKinley, associate vice president of UT-San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development, says the collaboration between the universities would assist small business services, which are lacking in Mexico.
“We have to be engaged in developing the economy … it helps in job creation and the people can sustain themselves,” he says.
This is the first time American University will be collaborating with a Mexican institution. The partnership emerged after Dr. Todd Eisenstadt, an assistant professor of government at AU, went to Mexico as an election observer in Oaxaca province. The state is one of the poorest in the country, with a very antiquated system of laws, says Eisenstadt. Immigration is becoming an escape valve for many Oaxaca residents.
“Immigrants are returning with less regard to indigenous customs, flexing their economic might in their hometown even as they are physically in the U.S.,” he says.
AU will provide funding to the Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca for training indigenous lawyers in a specialized master’s program. The coursework will look at questions of how indigenous norms and traditions are consistent with traditions at the federal level, according to Einsentadt.
— By Shilpa Banerji
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