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Colleges' Egypt exchange program underway

10/08/2009
The Northwest Colleges Egypt Initiative to provide technical training to young professionals from Egypt brought 34 Egyptian students to study for one year at Edmonds, Spokane and Whatcom community colleges.

The students arrived in August for a month of Intensive ESL and then enrolled in professional certificate programs fall quarter. Edmonds Community College hosts 17 students, all Fulbright scholars, who are pursuing professional certificates in Business, Information Technology, Construction Management and Allied Health. Edmonds CC received a $1.4 million grant for international education from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Community College Initiative to coordinate the program.

"President Obama gave a speech in Cairo, that outlines the U.S. role and position with the Muslim world, and also frames the purpose of our Egypt program," said Edmonds Community College’s Vice President of International Education, David Cordell. "It is exciting that our college can take part in helping to extend the dialogue and exchange between the U.S. and the world in this way."

The section of Obama’s speech that directly relates to the Northwest Colleges Egypt Initiative begins: "On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America."

Egyptian students that participate in the program will complete one-year professional development certificates in a college program such as: agriculture, applied engineering, business management and administration, allied health, information technology, or hospitality and tourism management.

They will also complete internships that introduce them to local Americans and businesses who are involved in their fields of study.

“The program will offer educational opportunities, professional development, and exposure to American society to Egyptian students who lack access to the kind of training and education a community college provides,” said Cordell. “This grant gives less privileged members of Egyptian society access to higher education and preparation for future leadership, while providing an opportunity to see how American democracy and society function. It will also help our local community to learn about Egypt and the needs and aspirations of its people.”

Edmonds Community College is administering the Northwest Colleges Egypt Initiative, which is one of three consortiums of community colleges in the U.S. that have received State Department funding. In total, the national Egypt exchange program seeks to place 400 students in the U.S. over a three-year period. Edmonds Community College will provide a coordinator for the Northwest consortium.

Additionally, each school will assign an adviser to the Egyptian students to offer them academic and personal support. They will also create opportunities for the students to engage in the local community so that they can share their culture and learn first-hand about American institutions, business, and democracy. This will include visits to college classes, local K-12 schools, and city, business, and professional meetings.

Edmonds Community College has 28 years experience in international education and enrolled 1,265 international students from 68 countries in 2007-08.

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The Northwest Colleges Egypt Initiative is a consortium of Community Colleges of Spokane, Edmonds Community College, and Whatcom Community College, formed in 2008 and administered by Edmonds Community College. The initiative is funded by a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Community College Initiative — one of three awards given in 2008 to community colleges across the nation to support educational and cultural exchange. The two other grants were awarded to a community college group in California and Community Colleges for International Development, a national consortium based in Iowa. The grants support academic, cultural, and professional exchange and training programs as a means of seeking mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries and to promote the free exchange of information and ideas.

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