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 SENA Exchange Student Program

By Jamie Ratchford

Medellin, Colombia is known as the “City of Eternal Spring” yet when students from SENA Centro Tecnologico de Gestion Industrial toured Historic Bethlehem in April, they were amazed by Pennsylvania’s version of spring.

As the Northern Hemisphere slowly wakes up from winter, Colombia rests comfortably in the subtropics, rarely dropping below 50 degrees.

The flowering trees at Bethlehem Area Public Library were in various stages of blossoming when NCC’s student global ambassadors met SENA students for a tour of Historic Bethlehem.

The magnolias were fragrant and the cherry trees were full of pink and white puffs of flowers. Students laughed and danced as the petals swirled off of the trees in the breeze. This stage of growth is relatively unknown in their home country where plants are always blooming, said SENA student Maria Pelencia.

The group of five students and three advisers are at NCC as part of a new two-part exchange program, its first leg is titled “English Language Cultural Immersion Program at Northampton Community College.”

This entails a three-week visit to build a relationship between SENA and NCC. The goal is to create multi-cultural understanding and to increase global mobility.

The program will allow students to take part in presentations, workshops, seminars and gain hands-on experience in classrooms, labs and facilities.

They will visit NCC’s Fowler Family Southside Campus in Bethlehem and the Monroe Campus and focus on programs at the Main campus. Also, they will tour landmarks in Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York City.

The second part of the program, “SENA Partnership for Study Abroad Capacity Building,” focuses on bringing NCC students to SENA.

On May 17, seven NCC students will travel to Medellin for one week as part of the new study abroad course, Sustainable Food Systems in Emerging Markets, led by professor Kelly Allen.

“NCC humanities faculty are working with SENA technical engineering faculty to develop a syllabus and course materials that engages students across languages and cultures,” said Tracey Johnson, NCC’s director of grants.

NCC received a grant of $25,000 from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund for the project.

 “The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas,” Johnson said, “is to increase the annual number of U.S. students studying in other countries to 100,000, and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020.”