Passport to possibilities

Passport to possibilities

The College of Extended Studies and International Programs attracts students to short-term programs, sends others abroad

Just like the Space Shuttle Endeavour, now settling into its home at the California Science Center, Cal State L.A. specializes in launches. But instead of astronauts, the University sets graduates on a trajectory toward personal and professional success.

If Cal State L.A. is the launching site, then the College of Extended Studies and International Programs is where people land to study in unique short-term programs, and also depart for study abroad.

The College extends the reach of the University’s programs to students beyond the campus through online classes, academic certificate and degree programs, and professional training.

One such program is the 2012 IDIEZ Summer Nahuatl Institute, offered for the first time this past summer.

Nahuatl, spoken during the colonial period in Mexico, has only 2 million native speakers today. The revitalization of the language is the life work of John Sullivan, professor of Nahua language and culture at Universidad Aut&oacutenoma de Zacatecas and the director of Zacatecas Institute for Teaching and Research in Ethnology (IDIEZ).

“There’s probably more interest in Nahuatl in Los Angeles than any place in the world—even in Mexico,” Sullivan said. “The Chicano population has a tremendous urge to learn about its indigenous past. … The natural thing is to have a program in L.A.”

The session drew scholars interested in indigenous cultures and North American history, including Daniel Wasserman, an assistant professor at Oberlin College in Ohio, who is researching the history of the Spanish conquest of America.

“I couldn’t turn down the chance to study this rarely taught language,” Wasserman said. “That it was offered at a large university with all the cultural resources of a major metropolis was icing on the cake.”

In addition to other short-term programs, such as a master’s program in choral conducting, the College interacts with faculty groups internationally, according to Jose Galvan, dean of College of Extended Studies and International Programs.

The Center for Korean American and Korean Studies, for example, recently hosted a group of Korean teachers who attended classes and interned at elementary schools through a partnership with a Korean university.

The College also coordinates study abroad trips for students like Natalie Aviles, an international business major who spent almost a year in Spain.

With Madrid as her home base, Aviles attended courses in Spanish art, history and phonetics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. During breaks, the senior explored more of the country and Europe, visiting the Alhambra castle in Granada, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and more.

“The study abroad experience has given me more drive to be successful. It will keep motivating me to get the job that I want,” said Aviles, who added a Spanish minor after her trip.

Many reasons, including language development, experience in a specialized field, general interest and a desire to connect with a heritage, can lead students to travel abroad, Galvan said.

The programs facilitated by the College of Extended Studies and International Programs make for a more diverse student population with a wider range of experiences from which the entire campus community can benefit.

“The College exists to provide an opportunity for academics and administrators to extend their services and subject matter to external audiences,” said Galvan. “The benefit to the campus community is by exposure to new ways of thinking, to new ideas and cultures.”