Colombia Purdue Initiative — CPI

English Learning Program for Universidad Nacional Faculty

The English Learning Program for Universidad Nacional (UNAL) Faculty began during the summer of 2015 with 18 professors from the Bogota campus.  During their one-month stay, they worked hard to improve their English proficiency, particularly speaking and writing in their disciplines.  They were able to practice by engaging with faculty and students in their areas of expertise.  The benefits, in addition to their improved language abilities, were direct and lasting ties with their new Purdue colleagues and many  ideas for potential collaborations, which are already producing results.

Javier Olarte, Associate Professor of Film in the Fine Arts Faculty at Universidad Nacional is a good example of this. His enthusiasm allowed him to build bridges with Purdue faculty and staff. At Purdue he met with various professors at the College of Liberal Arts, including Russell Jones, Dawn Stinchcomb, Patricia Hart, Lance Duerfahrd, Susan Curtis, Associate Dean Joel Ebarb, and many more. He was amazed by the warm welcoming that these scholars offered him, and by their willingness to collaborate with him and with UNAL. As a result of this association, professors Jones, Curtis, and Hart travelled to Bogotá to participate in a conference organized by Javier. Professor Jones stayed for a full week in Colombia to teach a longer course on theater and film that proved to be a remarkable event. Last April, Javier was invited by Dr. Curtis to return to Purdue to participate in the International Panel Discussion on Social Justice, organized by the Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs (OIGP) and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS). Javier’s partnership with Purdue faculty continues, and they are currently developing future projects that will keep benefiting both institutions.

The English Learning Program started as an indirect consequence of the UREP-C program (Undergraduate Research Experience Purdue Colombia). UREP-C allows undergraduates from UNAL to be part of a research project at Purdue. Some of the advisors and tutors of these undergraduates expressed the need to be involved in their advisees’ academic experience, and the English Learning Program began with this motivation in mind. A second group of 15 professors arrived in West Lafayette on June 18th. They come with great expectations, as they have already witnessed the benefits experienced by their colleagues who visited Purdue last year.

We look forward to see what new projects and alliances emerge during this second cycle of the program.


Universidad Nacional faculty during their visit to Purdue as part of the English Learning Program in the summer of 2015


Professor Susan Curtis conference flyer. The talk was organized by Javier Olarte at Universidad Nacional.



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