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UW Faculty Member Wins Grant to Develop Study-Abroad Program in Brazil

August 12, 2022

A University of Wyoming faculty member is developing a study-abroad program that will bring UW undergraduate students together with members of the Pataxó Indigenous community in Brazil who are working to revitalize their endangered language.

A grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) Program will help Assistant Professor Jessica Nelson complete an initial site visit for the project. She’s a member of the faculty in UW’s Native American and Indigenous Studies Program in the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice.

Nelson will be accompanied by Reinette Curry Tendore, director of UW’s Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center and Native American Program adviser; and Robyn Lopez, an Arapaho language instructor and specialist in language revitalization methods.

“The planned study-abroad course will be developed collaboratively with the Pataxó so that it can contribute to community language goals while providing UW students with an opportunity to experience daily life in Bahia and learn from the Pataxó firsthand about their experience of language loss, colonization and mobilization,” Nelson says. “Through this experience, students will gain insights into Indigeneity in Brazil, language revitalization as a human rights issue, and how education and other language revitalization methods can be used to help maintain Indigenous cultural and linguistic sovereignty. Another primary goal of the program will be to foster dialogues between Indigenous youth from Brazil and the United States.”

UW is one of 44 colleges and universities across the United States that will use the IDEAS grants to create, expand and/or diversify American student mobility overseas in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. The Department of State is committed to supporting U.S. colleges and universities as they continue to rebuild study-abroad capacity impacted by the global pandemic.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Nelson received this grant to support the development of faculty-led programming in a critical part of the world,” says Shelley Jewell, director of UW Education Abroad. “Dr. Nelson’s commitment to developing opportunities for more UW students -- in this case, students in an underrepresented major -- to study abroad is commendable, and we are very excited to see the program take shape over the coming months.”

Since 2016, the IDEAS Program has awarded 145 grants to 139 institutions in 48 states and territories to create, expand and diversify their U.S. study-abroad programs in 71 countries across all world regions. In addition to the IDEAS grant competition, the program also offers opportunities for faculty, staff and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a series of free virtual and in-person study-abroad capacity building activities.

One such activity is scheduled Oct. 7 at UW, as Jewell and Nevin Aiken -- an associate professor in the School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies -- were selected to host a one-day workshop on best practices for faculty-led programs under the IDEAS Program.

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