This summer marks the first time the University of Houston-Victoria has reached out to the community with study abroad opportunities created to help lawyers, police officers, nurses, teachers and emergency responders do their jobs better.
| Danny Ochoa, center, manager of the University of Houston-Victoria's Letting Education Achieve Dreams program, poses with classmates in a Spanish grammar class he took during a 2006 trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico. Ochoa is encouraging community members to take UHV's new Spanish Language and Culture Program for Professionals.
Although the university has offered study abroad programs for faculty, staff and students for four years, it recently added a two- to five-week Spanish Language and Culture Program for Professionals in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Granada, Spain.
"These programs are critical," said Vic Padelford, UHV international programs director. "Until we move away from a monolingual and mythical melting-pot insistence on English only, it is difficult, if not impossible, for those in the workforce to compete for leadership in a global economy dependent on multilingual skills and multicultural appreciation."
The program is available to UHV employees and students, and to area professionals who need to develop Spanish oral, written, reading and listening skills specific to their jobs.
"The Spanish Language and Culture Program for Professionals is another way UHV is reaching out to the community to help area professionals succeed in our global society," UHV President Tim Hudson said.
Those interested in the program can choose any Monday start date that works for them as long as they register 30 days in advance of their trip.
Participants begin the program by taking a new online Spanish placement assessment that rates their knowledge of the language from beginning to advanced. They then go through a week of online Spanish language lessons tailored to their skill level. The lessons increase their knowledge of the language to jump-start the intensive immersion portion of their trip.
Once in Mexico or Spain, participants go to classes for six hours a day Monday through Friday. They also go on guided field trips to historical and archaeological sites, and to hospitals, schools and other locations specifically related to their professions.
Danny Ochoa, manager of UHV's Letting Education Achieve Dreams program, traveled to Cuernavaca for three weeks each in 2006 and 2008 through UHV and thinks the Spanish Language and Culture Program for Professionals is a wonderful opportunity for the community.
"Immersion is the most effective way to learn another language," he said. "Whether community members are in the service industry, healthcare, law enforcement or other professions, they're going to encounter people who speak Spanish. Learning Spanish will provide them with a tremendous advantage in these situations."
Participants in the Spanish Language and Culture Program for Professionals can earn three UHV academic or continuing education credits for completing the program. The cost for the two-week onsite program is about $1,700 to go to Mexico or Spain plus airfare. Additional weeks can be added. In addition, partial scholarships and employer sponsorships often are available. For more information, contact Padelford at 361-570-4186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.