A grant from the U.S. Department of State will boost a growing study abroad program at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

News of the grant from the 2019 Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad arrived as a group of five CVTC students were in Spain for the college's second-ever study abroad trip. Twelve CVTC students traveled to Ireland in May 2018 on the first trip. More trips are planned for next year. The Ireland trip was part of a three-credit Introduction to Diversity Studies course.

"They had the experience of a lifetime," said Alisa Schley, student life specialist at CVTC. "Every day they had a new classroom. Every day they learned something new about Ireland and themselves."

The CVTC students joined others from Northeast Wisconsin and Moraine Park technical colleges. Students on the trip to Spain accompanied college students from a wider region through the educational travel agency Education First. Students were responsible for the costs.

CVTC applied for a $35,000 State Department grant to support an Experiencing Postsecondary Learning Overseas through Relevant Education (EXPLORE) program with the goal to expand CVTC's capacity to offer study abroad opportunities.

Among the uses of the funds will be to prepare for the next planned trip, to the Central American country of Belize Jan. 4-18. Students in the Nursing-Associate Degree, Foundations of Teacher Education and Early Childhood Education programs are invited to study in the country and earn three CVTC credits, Schley said. Nursing students will shadow nurses in the country's largest government-run hospital. Students in the education programs will be working in two elementary schools on curriculum development and in direct student contact capacities.

The grant money will help pay for instructors to develop curriculum associated with the experiences and for instruction time on the trip. Other uses for the grant funds include staff time to further develop the CVTC study abroad program, including time for a staff member to shadow an NWTC study abroad program trip to Thailand.

CVTC is one of 21 colleges and universities from across the United States selected from over 120 applications for the grant program.

"We are pleased to support U.S. colleges and universities from across the United States as part of our suite of initiatives aimed at increasing American student mobility. We are committed to providing more opportunities for American students to benefit from the rich experience of studying overseas," said Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

"CVTC wants to continue to offer general education and program-specific study abroad opportunities," Schley said.