For many University of Houston (UH) students, studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to experience a vast world filled with a variety of different cultures firsthand. As students travel the world, they are immersed in new environments that prepare them for careers in a globalized society.
This past spring, a diverse committee of experts, including several accomplished engineers and scientists, hosted a group of students on a trip to Barranquilla and Cartagena, Colombia to explore the 14 “Grand Challenges” impacting the world.
Barranquilla and Cartagena, Colombia, were selected because these locations offered a tremendous opportunity for UH students to understand these challenges in the context of Colombian culture, STEM advances, and workforce development and include topics like making solar energy economical, providing access to clean water, and improving urban infrastructure. The program gave students an opportunity to place content- or major-specific topics in a global context. Colombia was also chosen because of the cultural exchange that students would have there, especially with the Afro-Caribbean cultural heritage.
During this trip, students made visits to museums, engineering companies, and universities in addition to delivering their Grand Challenge group presentation at a collaborative international conference at Universidad Tecnológica De Bolívar, where they received positive feedback from Colombian students and professors. For this group project, students investigated how we are tackling one of the Grand Challenges in the U.S. and how their assigned challenge is being tackled in Colombia. Then, they proposed new, innovative solutions.
Jerrod A. Henderson, Ph.D, an assistant professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering UH accompanied the students in Colombia. Henderson also serves as the Faculty in Residence for Cougar Village II.
“The experience was helpful in connecting students to their peers. It also challenged them to think about their cultural identities and how they are situated as problem-solvers in the world.” said Henderson, reflecting on the study abroad experience. “The experience helped students leave Colombia with a more assets-based understanding of the culture and technological solutions that people of Colombia have developed.”
Henderson hopes to grow the visibility of the Learning Abroad Program at UH and to recruit as many students as possible to return to future destinations (e.g., Brazil in 2024) and serve as ambassadors.
“I also want to acquire sponsorship to offer travel scholarships for students who wish to attend but cannot afford to pay the total cost,” Henderson said.
Learning Abroad has opportunities for every major in over 100 countries through faculty-led, reciprocal exchanges, third party affiliated providers, and service opportunities abroad.
We encourage students to take courses, complete internships, or conduct research abroad for credit that will count toward their degree. Learning Abroad also supports students completing co-curricular learning experiences abroad including conferences, symposia, service learning, and study tours.
For more info on Learning Abroad here at UH, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-743-9167.