Pitzer College Awarded Capacity Building Grant to Expand Diversity and Participation in Study Abroad

Claremont, Calif. (August 25, 2016) — The US Department of State and Partners of the Americas announce 18 recipients of the 2016 Capacity Building Grants for US Undergraduate Study Abroad. Pitzer College, the only liberal arts college among the recipients, has been awarded a grant to improve diversity and participation in study abroad. Pitzer’s newly created Global/Local Portuguese & Vietnamese Project and the Integrative, Community-Engaged Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) Learning Program will establish two summer study abroad locations—one in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, the other in Huế, Vietnam. Updates on the program’s implementation will be available at https://studyabroad.state.gov/

Pitzer College’s new five- to six-week summer programs will expand study abroad and language-learning opportunities as well as increase outreach to students underrepresented in study abroad programs, including first-generation college students, students of color and non-traditional-aged students.

“The shorter summer sessions make study abroad more accessible to students who may not be able to afford to spend a semester away from work or family,” said Michael Ballagh, Pitzer’s associate vice president for study abroad and international programs.

Pitzer’s Brazilian program would be located in Salvador da Bahia, the first colonial capital of Brazil and a center of Afro-Brazilian culture. In Vietnam, the project would be located in Huế, the former imperial capital that was a key region during the Vietnam-US war and lies in close proximity to large minority communities. Both Salvador da Bahia and Huế are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The summer sessions abroad will serve as lynchpins for teaching Portuguese and Vietnamese, both of which are considered “less commonly taught languages” in the US. These sessions are part of a larger, year-long program that Ballagh describes as a “sandwich model” of language and culture learning: students will take Portuguese or Vietnamese introductory courses prior to traveling abroad; in the summer, they will have an immersive, intensive language experience that combines formal language instruction, seminars on topics relevant to the local community and, wherever feasible, internship opportunities.  Students will live with native-speaking host families; then, in the fall, they will hone their language skills through community-based exchanges with native Portuguese and Vietnamese language speakers who live locally and through real-time video conversations between native speakers in Brazil or Vietnam and students at Pitzer.

The grant will allow faculty and staff to return to Salvador and Huế to develop the programs and bring language faculty from Vietnam and Brazil to Pitzer’s campus in Claremont.

Prior to receiving the grant, the two new programs had been approved by Pitzer’s Academic Planning Committee as part of the College’s plan to expand Pitzer study abroad program offerings and language courses at The Claremont Colleges. The programs aim to replicate the success of Pitzer’s language immersion programs abroad and the local community-based Spanish program.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan commented, “Our diverse higher education system should strive to make study abroad experiences available to as many American students as possible. Today’s toughest challenges cross international borders, and study abroad gives students the skills and diverse perspectives they need to succeed in the classroom and in their careers.”

President and CEO of Partners of the Americas Steve Vetter reiterated, “Study abroad is one of the most important tools we can provide our students and is critical to workforce development. Partners’ vision is to continue to take our regional expertise and leverage support to grow these critical globally focused opportunities in the future.”

To view the full listing of 2016 Capacity Building Grants for U.S. Undergraduate Study Abroad recipients, visit: https://bit.ly/CBGwinners, and to stay up to the date on the latest updates, follow #StudyAbroadBecause on Facebook and Twitter.

The mission of the US Department of State’s US Study Abroad Branch is to promote diversity and participation in study abroad by managing existing study abroad programs, building higher education institutional capacity for study abroad, and advocating for the value of study abroad. It is committed to supporting the next generation of diverse American leaders to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a globalizing world.

The mission of Partners of the Americas is to connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships. These partnerships create opportunity, foster understanding, and solve real-life problems. Inspired by President Kennedy and founded in 1964 under the Alliance for Progress, Partners is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization with international offices in Washington DC. Learn more at www.partners.net or via Twitter @partnersamerica.

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.


Anna Chang, Pitzer College
[email protected]

The US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
[email protected]

Taylor Nelson, Partners of the Americas
[email protected]


Partners of the Americas logo, State Department logo, US Flag

These are programs of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Pitzer College

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

Media Contact

Office of Communications
[email protected]