University students prosper from ELAP program

For many people, the opportunity to study in another country is the opportunity of a lifetime. It can also prove to be very expensive, and many students do not have the resources to study abroad. For one group of students from South America, a new scholarship has made this opportunity possible.

Candela Yrazabal Gonzalez is a management exchange student from Argentina. She recently received the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship, allowing her to study at the University of Lethbridge for the fall semester.

"I really wanted to have an experience in Canada, and the programs at the U of L really appealed to me," explains Yrazabal Gonzalez. "There are professors and students here from all over the world, so the U of L seemed like an interesting place to be."

The ELAP provides funding for students in Latin America to come study in Canada. Launched in 2009 by the federal government, this program awards scholarships of up to $7,500 for undergraduate exchanges of four months. Scholarships are awarded primarily based on academic standing and English skills.

This semester, Rhonda Crow, the incoming exchange co-ordinator for the Faculty of Management, submitted funding applications for 12 students from Latin America to attend the U of L. All 12, including Yrazabal Gonzalez, received the full scholarship (a total of $90,000 for the University) and are currently studying at the U of L.

"This program goes a long way in supporting the mandate of the International Management Program at the U of L," says Andrea Amelinckx, the program's director. "We aim to provide students with opportunities to gain a greater understanding of cross-cultural management practices and an appreciation of global and cultural diversity. By sending our students abroad and by welcoming exchange students here, we enrich campus life and expose students to greater cultural diversity and encourage lasting international linkages."

For Yrazabal Gonzalez, the ELAP scholarship means the opportunity to learn in new ways that would not be possible in her home country.

"There are different resources and opportunities here than in Argentina," she says. "Being here allows me to learn from a different point of view and to gain cross-cultural knowledge."

Yrazabal Gonzalez is even taking her international study opportunity to another level by volunteering with the Aboriginal Council of Lethbridge. She says the volunteer work extends her learning outside of the classroom, and allows her to learn about aboriginal culture, which is one of her research interests.

Yrazabal Gonzalez and her fellow recipients of the scholarship are part of a larger group of 56 exchange students currently studying at the U of L.

"Exchange students have been instrumental in the growth of the International Management Program," says Amelinckx. "Students from the U of L continually meet students from other countries and learn about their cultures. We have a diverse range of exchange destinations, allowing our students many options for studying abroad and also bringing in students from all over the world."

Although Yrazabal Gonzalez plans to return to Argentina after her semester here, she intends to maintain a connection with Canada. She is interested in international development and hopes to work with the United Nations. She sees her experience at the U of L as helping her reach not only career goals but allowing her to grow in other ways.

"I am so happy to be here and I am learning so much," says Yrazabal Gonzalez. "I couldn't be here without the ELAP scholarship. This scholarship has opened a big door for me."