March 7, 2016 by WVU Today
Morgantown, W.Va. – Paraguay’s top diplomat in the United States and his U.S. counterpart visited Morgantown Monday, March 7, to honor a partnership between West Virginia University and the Universidad Nacional de Asunción in Paraguay.
German Rojas, Paraguay’s ambassador to the United States, and Leslie Bassett, the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, were invited by WVU President Gordon Gee, to learn of the range of opportunities offered by WVU’s academic programs, research capacity and cultural offerings.
“This visit is a strong indication of our university’s international strengths,” said David Stewart, WVU’s associate vice president for international student life and global services. “The new partnership is one that provides a range of opportunities for students to go study abroad and observe a new culture. Also, it breaks ground for our faculty to engage in new research collaborations, particularly in health, agriculture, environment, and engineering.”
Bassett presented a special campus-wide seminar about United States and Paraguay relationships at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Mountainlair’s Mountain Room. The ambassadors also visited a range of campus venues. NRCCE Director Richard Bajura was asked to participate in a roundtable discussion at the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
Gee met with both ambassadors. Rojas has a long commitment to his country’s development serving as finance minister of Paraguay from 2013-2015. He served as chairman of the National Development Bank; and, was the appointed chairman of the Central Bank of Paraguay. Also, he served on the board of Paraguay’s new scholarship fund that will send 1,000 STEM graduate students abroad in the next five years.
In addition, Gee hosted Bassett, who has been supportive of the WVU-UNA partnership. Her leadership and the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion’s long-standing cooperation with UNA were instrumental in helping the universities obtain a 100,000 Strong in the Americas grant award, funded by Santander Bank through the Partners of the Americas.
The partners have supported six faculty exchange visits to develop curricular and cultural activities, and the exchange of nine students who represented multiple majors. The next WVU-UNA student exchange is scheduled after the spring semester and there are plans for a medical rotation and exchange.
This project was developed between WVU’s International Programs and the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. The nine students on the first exchange were also hosted at the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion. Besides faculty of resource economics, WVU faculty of health sciences and world languages have visited Asuncion to plan a long-term collaboration.
For the 100,000 Strong in the Americas competition, the partners received a $24,888 award for Innovative Ventures for Student Mobility in the Americas. At the time, the U.S. Embassy said, “With a focus in the areas of energy, water quality, waste management, environment and economy, West Virginia University’s program will increase student and faculty mobility and (exchange) students will attend special seminars in the related themes, travel to prominent sites in the field for first-hand observations, as well as participate in hands-on training in new and advanced technologies at the respective campuses’ ICT centers.”
The project grew from impetus of a WVU Fulbright Scholar’s special seminars in Paraguay. In Fall 2013, Gerard D’Souza was awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant and visited Paraguay, at UNA, for 15 days. He lectured on critical global topics such as economics, energy, environment, water management, environmental entrepreneurism, agribusiness, and sustainability.
Afterwards, WVU’s International Programs initiated a Memorandum of Understanding and the respective university presidents signed an academic exchange agreement marking the formal collaboration.
Meeting photos by Tracy Novak, NRCCE
CONTACT: George M. Lies; WVU Office of International Programs
Tara George-Jones; WVU Office of International Programs;
Original story: WVU Today