Exchange Matters / June 19, 2015

Mexico Meet America!

Ask an American about Mexico, and it seems nearly everyone has an opinion to share. As a recent visitor to this emerging Latin American economic power, I can offer two assessments: First, Mexico is our most important bilateral partner. Second, the country’s potential is close to limitless.

For these reasons among several others, Global Ties U.S. has good news to announce. I recently had the pleasure of firming-up a series of agreements and understandings with a broad range of Mexican partner organizations during a trip to Mexico City. Our community-based members stand to benefit hand-in-hand with us.

Our newly-signed memorandum of understanding with the University of Guadalajara, the second largest public university in Mexico which boasts over 220,000 students, is in itself a seminal achievement. Starting this summer, Global Ties U.S. will facilitate “Meet AmericaTM,” a travel experience for 72 students from University of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, to destinations in the United States. Where they go will depend on their professional interests. While here, students will be in the capable hands of community-based members as they become acquainted with two American cities. In the interest of helping them see the “real America,” Washington, DC won’t appear on any travel itineraries.

Meet America is designed to ensure that our Guadalajara students gain a once-in-a-lifetime introduction to leaders in their field of interest, as well as improve their English language skills and develop global proficiencies. Approximately 24 participants will learn first-hand about the intricacies of international trade as they visit Tucson, Arizona, and San Diego, California. A similarly-sized contingent will travel to Albany, New York, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are few better places to focus on STEM education than in the cities that GE Global Research and Carnegie-Mellon call home. The final 24 participants will focus on entrepreneurship and innovation in Atlanta, Georgia, and in Raleigh, a city at the core of the famed North Carolina “Research Triangle.”

A lot of hard work and negotiation brought us here – and I’m convinced we will post more such positive announcements in the future involving Global Ties U.S. and Mexico. During my recent trip to that country’s capital city, I participated in fora involving U.S. organizations that run J-1 visa exchange programs. I learned there is room for Global Ties U.S. and its network to grow into this area. Add to that, we are investigating a pilot program, scheduled to take place in 2016, to bring Mexican university students and recent graduates to the United States. While here, they will be interns for businesses and nonprofits for two to three-month periods, in partnership with community-based members.

None of this would have been possible without the strong support of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and the Government of Mexico. The U.S. Department of State certainly deserves recognition for its role in sponsoring the Joint U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII), an initiative that enhances the links between individuals and institutions in our two countries. And, we have benefited greatly from the attention given to us by the Undersecretary for North America for the Secretariat of Foreign Relations of Mexico, Dr. Sergio Alcocer, whom we had the pleasure of hosting at our new offices during his recent visit to Washington, DC.

My director for external relations, Daniel Bremer-Wirtig, has been instrumental in making this happen. A national of Mexico, he is as understandably as pleased as I am to see our organization enjoying a role that will bring the people of our two countries closer together.

By Jennifer Clinton, PhD, Global Ties U.S. Follow her on Twitter: @CDJClinton