Dillard University hosts intensive English language program for Mexican students
Written by Emily Schappacher
December 11, 2014

Some of the participants in the Proyecta 100,000 Program at Dillard University in New Orleans.

Twenty students and teachers from Mexico's Proyecta 100,000 Program are wrapping up an intensive four-week English language program at the United Church of Christ-affiliated Dillard University in New Orleans. The school's Center for Intensive Language program is one of the 157 U.S. English as a Second Language programs that will host more than 7,500 Mexican learners this year. The group arrived on Nov. 13 and will head home Saturday, Dec. 13.

"We hope this group is the first of many others who will come to Dillard throughout next year," said Aurea Diab, assistant professor and program coordinator of world languages and the interim director of the Center for Intensive English Language at Dillard University. 

The Proyecta 100,000 Program is an effort by the Mexican government to provide learning opportunities for its citizens at institutions of higher education in the U.S. The program's goal is to have 100,000 Mexican learners study in the U.S. as part of a renewed cooperation between the governments of Mexico and the U.S. under the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research that presidents Peña Nieto and Barack Obama initiated last year. Diab was contacted by the general director of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, who invited Dillard University to submit a proposal and a budget to be part of the program.

"I thought their idea was excellent and jumped at the opportunity," she said.

The program provided students the chance to participate in English as a Second Language classes, and interact with Dillard University students while experiencing life on a U.S. college campus. In addition, participants visited museums and a plantation home, and took a steamboat ride along the Mississippi River. And, of course, Diab said, students enjoyed the many attractions of New Orleans.

During the past two years, Dillard University has trained another 106 learners in its Center for Intensive English Language program, including 48 teachers and 55 students from Brazil, and three students from Pakistan.

"I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the program – from preparing the curriculum and class schedules, to meeting the students and being able to see them improve their language skills," said Diab. "Planning all this was very interesting, and seeing the results was very gratifying."

Dillard University is one of six UCC-related historically black colleges and universities. Since 1869, the school has been committed to providing students with a quality four-year liberal arts education.

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