By Evangeline Taylor
The Centro Cultural Nicaragüense Norteamericano binational center was abuzz, May 17, with nearly 2,000 Nicaraguan students who were eager to engage with Embassy Managua personnel and learn more about U.S. colleges and universities. With 26 universities represented by U.S. direct hires, locally employed staff and U.S. government program alumni, the students—accompanied by parents, teachers and counselors—got a glimpse of what it takes to become an exchange student and how they can benefit from embassy and EducationUSA programs to eventually study in the United States.
University booths encompassed an array of institutions, including the College of William & Mary, Coffeyville Community College, Georgia State University, University of Washington, Sweet Briar College, University of Tampa, Brandeis University and Northcentral Technical College, among others. Students listened to the “Five Steps to Studying at a U.S. University” from Nicaragua’s EducationUSA Advisor, Jackson Cruz, and received information on scholarships and ongoing programs. Second-tour consular officer Hermes Grullon explained requirements for obtaining a J-1 student visa. Grullon also discussed the benefits of U.S. higher education—demystifying the process of becoming a student while offering encouragement to students who felt such a goal is out of their reach.
Because of Nicaragua’s ongoing political crisis, Embassy Managua could not invite U.S.-based representatives from academic institutions; however, the team devised a creative work-around and leveraged university alumni from America who were already based in Nicaragua.
The success of the alumni fair resulted in triple the number of students requesting advising meetings from EducationUSA. It also connected the Mission with U.S. government alumni and fostered connections with Nicaraguan youth. With the support of the Mission, these young Nicaraguans may one day get the opportunity to study in the United States and return with the skills, knowledge and experience to serve and lead their country.
Evangeline Taylor is the assistant cultural affairs officer at Embassy Managua.