$5,000 scholarship powers up Study Abroad

December 21, 2010 —  Five University of the Fraser Valley students will be leaving soon to study in Europe on a $5,000 scholarship, thanks to a unique partnership that links UFV and York University in Toronto with the University of Münster in Germany and Northampton University in the UK.

Established in 2009, the Diaspora Studies Consortium partnership supports the study of diaspora communities (groups that have left their traditional ethnic homelands to settle elsewhere). This innovative program provides many avenues for student exchange and faculty mobility, because it involves a range of disciplines in the arts and humanities, including anthropology, cultural studies, English literature, history, linguistics, media studies, theology, criminology, sociology, and social work.

In the next two years, through this interdisciplinary network, 22 Canadian students will benefit from a $5,000 scholarship to study either in Germany or in the UK. In return, 22 students from Münster and Northampton Universities will come to study in Canada, either at UFV or at York. UFV will award a Diaspora Studies certificate to visiting students who participate in the program.

Diaspora

UFV Diaspora scholarship recipients pictured with UFV president, Dr. Mark Evered. From left to right: second year student Stacy Thoreson bound for Northampton, Dr. Evered, third year criminology student Tara Enns bound for Northampton, and fourth year history student Megan Vigor, bound for Münster. Not in the picture: fourth year political science student, Carly Schellenberg, and second year general studies student, Andrew Friesen, both bound for Münster.

As part of studying diaspora communities,   the program provides exchange students with hands-on experience. The curriculum includes a service learning course, run in collaboration with a community group working with immigrants.

“This not only gives our students an invaluable cross-cultural experience, but it also provides them with skills they’ll be able to leverage in the workplace,” says John Potts, acting associate director  of UFV International.
Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for the program. In addition, they undergo an interview process to help determine who should receive the scholarships. This fall, 17 UFV students applied to take advantage of this opportunity to study abroad.

“Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to study in Europe,” says third- year student, Tara Enns, who won a scholarship to study at Northampton. “The scholarship was the extra push I needed to do something that I always dreamed of doing, but never thought I could do.”

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada funds the $5,000 scholarships awarded to Canadian students.

When they leave for Europe in January 2011, the five UFV recipients will join a student group from York University. Eleven more Canadian students, six of them from UFV, will follow next year for exchange studies in January 2012. Interested UFV candidates can download an application form online.

“It’s rewarding to see that so many students want to participate,” says Potts. “We had to overcome a variety of obstacles to forge this partnership — everything from rigid computer systems to semesters that do not run concurrently. All the universities involved had to be extra flexible to make it happen. So we’re extremely pleased to see our first batch of students getting ready to leave. We’re committed to keep this partnership alive, long after the pilot project ends in 2012.”

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