Presidential Initiative to Increase Number of US Students Studying in Latin America

Violence continues in Mexico with drug cartels battling government forces over control of various areas all over the country. Though there has been some success, many in the United States view Mexico as a nation plagued with drug lords battling police men on the streets while the innocent continue to be massacred and kidnapped.

As a result, student exchange numbers from the U.S. to Mexico have dropped in the last ten years, according to The Associated Press. Mexico now ranks fourth in the list of Latin American destinations for college students wanting to study abroad, surpassed by Costa Rice, Argentina and Brazil.

In an attempt to quell suspicion and stereotypes about Mexico, the U.S. and Mexico have been working together to develop a strategy that would increase the student exchange numbers between the nations. Both Secretary of State John Kerry and Janet Napolitano, in charge of the University of California system, were in Mexico to promote the plan, which aims to correct discrepancies like the statistics showing out of the 233,000 UC students only 40 study abroad in Mexico. Conversely, according to the AP, only 1,900 Mexican students study in the University of California system.

“The best way to change that is to have an actual experience,” she said. “There has to be marketing on both sides of the border if we’re going to make this work.”

According to the AP, the president has new high education initiative that plans to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America to 100,000 as well as 100,000 Latin American students studying in the U.S. by 2020. Kerry also announced a new program started by a combined effort by both countries.

The U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research began taking shape in March with a working group in Mexico City that brought about 90 American and Mexican delegates from various areas like education and private enterprise. According to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, the group discussed how to improve educational exchange in the border region between the two countries.

“Today’s conversations and the participants create a context for exploring the border region’s role in strengthening our bilateral ties,” University of Texas, El Paso, chair Diana Natalicio said. “This is a moment anchored in our mutual understanding that education is key to our individual and collective prosperity and quality of life. Together, we will expand opportunities for the advancement of future generations through knowledge, ideas and understanding in what Mexico’s President Peña Nieto has called a ‘climate of dialogue.'”

Both presidents revealed the plan in May 2013, and this meeting is the second one following one in Feb. 27 in Northern Virginia.

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