UF hosts leaders in virtual exchange from Brazil, Mexico, for networking and collaboration

VE experts Drs. Ana Cristina Biondo Salomão and Verónica Rodríguez Luna shared experiences, insights, and opportunitites

UF hosts leaders in virtual exchange from Brazil, Mexico, for networking and collaboration

May 28, 2024

The Center continues to collaborate with the UFIC Office of Global Learning (OGL) to promote virtual exchange as a valuable way to internationalize curriculum and connect students from different parts of the world through project-based learning. Because of the efforts of Drs. Ana Cristina Biondo Salomão (São Paulo State University) and Verónica Rodríguez Luna (Universidad Veracruzana), VE programs and networks have been expanding throughout the region.

Co-organizing with OGL's Paloma Rodriguez, the Center hosted Dr. Salomão and Dr. Rodríguez here in Gainesville to build connections for future collaboration and developing VE networks. During their visit, they met with various UF faculty and staff and were guest speakers at UFIC's Global Learning Luncheon, where they shared their experiences and insights about establishing VE networks in Latin America. Read on to learn more about our two guests and their time at UF:

Q: Can you talk about the importance of growing these Latin American VE networks and expanding opportunities in the languages of the region?

VRL: Growing these Latin American VE networks can be key for promoting global citizenship in Latin America, enhancing cultural exchange, developing the intercultural competence, encouraging collaborative learning, and offering an international experience to the large number of Latin American students who cannot travel abroad. Latin American VE networks can also expand opportunities in the languages of the region by promoting exchanges in different languages, and in this way celebrating linguistic diversity.

ACBS: For Brazil, it is very important to grow these partnerships with our neighboring countries to strengthen South to South cooperation. We speak languages that have similarities and are intercomprehensive (Portuguese and Spanish), so this opens up a good communication channel for joint projects and for exploring our similar-different cultural backgrounds.

Q: What did you like most about the trip?

VRL: I really like meeting wonderful Deans, Directors, Associate Directors, faculty, staff, and sharing ideas about VE and its rapid growth in Latin America and in many institutions in the United States.

ACBS: It was a short but intense stay at UF. It was very interesting to get to know different people from diverse areas and to talk to them about possibilities for partnerships for VE and other projects. I was amazed at the size of the university and it was great to visit the museums and learn about how you make use of these resources in teaching and learning.

Q: What are you takeaways from the visit?

VRL: I learnt how VE is being promoted in UF, and how important UF is in the region, which can make UF a great leader in VE in the State of Florida.

ACBS: I think the main takeaway for me is that we need to tighten the bonds of strategic partnerships. This visit was very important in that sense. UNESP and UF already have lots of collaborations between professors and researchers and we need to nurture the projects from an institutional perspective to be able to give the necessary support for them to be lasting and prolific.

Q: What are you envisioning as possible next steps to collaborate with UF and all institutions across Florida?

VRL: This visit will surely strengthen the collaboration between UF and Universidad Veracruzana through more VE projects. I envision that in the near future the Latin American COIL Network, the BRaVE Network, and the Florida VE Network will collaborate to continue growing VE in Florida and in Latin America.

It was a great experience! Thank you very much for the invitation, and I am looking forward to more projects for connecting Florida with Latin America!

ACBS: I think the next step for Florida would be to constitute a VE network for the region and collaborate with other networks in Latin America, such as BRaVE (Brazilian Virtual Exchange) and Latam COIL. This would be a way of building up strong connections and learning from each other on how we can structure and keep long standing VE partnerships. Many thanks to Mary [Risner] and Paloma [Rodriguez] and all the great UF staff that welcomed us so warmly. ◆

Interested in incorporating a VE project into your curriculum? OGL offers training for UF faculty during the academic year (go.ufl.edu/ufic-ve) and the LAS Outreach program offers an online summer training for non-UF state college and K-12 faculty (go.ufl.edu/latam-ve)

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