August 17, 2017 Melissa Lamar

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Tunxis Community College is one of fewer than 10 recipients of one-year $20,000 grants from the French Embassy offered in the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative grant competition, to increase study abroad for U.S. and French college students.

The awarded project led by Tunxis, “Connecticut CLICKs: The CT Community Colleges’ International Education Initiative,” aims to create more systematic study abroad opportunities for students of the CT Community Colleges (CCCs). Travel abroad for CCC students has been limited to language classes and ad-hoc foreign excursions organized and led by individual faculty members.

“Working with other Connecticut Community Colleges such as Middlesex CC, we’re putting together faculty talent, technology and travel so that our students can develop their international capabilities,” said Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Ed.D., a Tunxis professor who is heading the initiative’s leadership team. “An important part of this is helping faculty weave cross-national learning into their classes,” she said. Developing Franco-American peer networks while also providing serious study abroad opportunities for increasing numbers of CCC students are central aims of the initiative. Skill-building in critical thinking, communication, languages, cultural competency and social responsibility are emphasized.

Connecticut Community College faculty participated in an orientation and training last spring, and this summer are holding virtual meetings with faculty of France and Mexico, to collaborate on one of the initiative’s efforts—the design of shared four- to five-week course “modules” that will integrate into existing fall 2017 courses at both the CCCs and the partner institutions. Students will work together virtually on a common project, ending with presentations shared with one another via technology in real time. The experience will be followed with study-travel opportunities for the students and faculty.

New modules will be developed for the spring 2018 semester, and the initiative continues to add international higher education partners from within France, as well as other countries.

“With our state universities such as Central Connecticut we’re also planning for higher-level degree pathways and internships in the future with international colleges,” said Wosczyna-Birch.

Ultimately the project’s efforts are intended to widen paths to international education for the over 70,000 credit-enrolled students of the 12 CT Community Colleges.

The award comes on the heels of four CCC students attending an “Environment-Energy Bootcamp” in Paris, France this past June, sponsored by the French Embassy in the United States and several partners. Three Tunxis CC students and a Norwalk CC student were among only 20 students accepted to the bootcamp in a nationwide competition. Through coordination by “CT CLICKs,” the bootcamp was the first formal study abroad experience for CT Community College students.

Each of the four CT Community College students is enrolled in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System’s College of Technology (COT) of which Wosczyna-Birch is state director, and RCNGM is a part. COT is a nationally-recognized seamless pathway in engineering and technology programs among all 12 public community colleges and eight universities and high schools in Connecticut.

Organized in partnership with NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative aims to strengthen the historic ties between the United States and France by doubling the number of students studying abroad in the two countries by 2025.

For more information about “CT CLICKs: the CCCs’ International Education Initiative,” contact Leigh E. Knopf, Tunxis director of institutional advancement, 860.773.1356,[email protected]. Tunxis Community College in Farmington offers over 60 associate degrees and certificates.  Visit Tunxis at: