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Vice-Versa: UCEAP Reciprocal Exchanges

International Students

Bring Value & Diversity to UC

by C. W. Skinner

Briony Greenhill’s year at UC Berkeley included a class that gave her the opportunity to teach at San Quentin Prison. The experience inspired her first documentary film, Three Free Men, about rehabilitation in U.S. prisons. Briony, a political science student from Queen’s University in the United Kingdom, came to UC Berkeley as a UC reciprocal exchange student. Bilateral international exchange is a key part of EAP, which hosts reciprocity students from over 100 partner universities in approximately 30 countries. Students have come to all UC campuses from as far away as Ankara, Turkey and as close by as British Columbia, Canada.

The events of September 11, 2001 brought the mission of EAP’s reciprocal exchange into sharp focus. Today, the rewards and responsibilities of international exchange are greater than ever before. Far from seeing a reduction in travel to the U.S., foreign student requests for spaces and extensions to remain in the U.S. have increased. More students are coming from the UK, Latin and Central America, and Asia than in the past. And for the first time, during academic year 2003-04, UC campuses will host students from the Czech Republic and Thailand.

Reciprocity students bring new cultural viewpoints and different approaches to learning to their host UC campuses, and take home expanded viewpoints and different academic perspectives. Briony says, “I relished the challenges and quality of my academic life at Berkeley. My courses were fascinating, my professors and classmates excellent. I threw myself into the work and was rewarded with good grades and the intellectual development that I was seeking.”

Academically reciprocity students excel. Data from the past five years shows that 80 percent of undergraduates achieve a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; about 7 percent achieve a 4.0 GPA. For graduate students, about 94 percent achieve 3.0 or higher, and about 22 percent are at the 4.0 level.

EAP reciprocity students can apply to study in any discipline, from anthropology to zoology. Reciprocity students at UC are currently doing fieldwork in marine biology programs in Hawaii and Bodega Bay, Washington D.C. internships, costume design in the Theater Arts Department at UC Santa Barbara, and sports textile research at UC Davis.

Visiting students often benefit from experiences outside the classroom. In addition to Briony’s academic work at San Quentin, she wrote articles for El Reportero, a bilingual newspaper for the Latino community in San Francisco. The Spanish that she learned while at UC Berkeley enabled her to work in Mexico, putting subtitles on a documentary film about traditional music in the Zapatista community, during the summer following her EAP experience.

EAP reciprocity students bring creativity and enthusiasm to UC campus and local communities, and act as EAP ambassadors when they return home. They also encourage fellow UC students to take the opportunity to study abroad. Often UC students will consider study abroad in a country they may never have even heard of after they have befriended a representative from one of the UC partner universities.

EAP stands alone among worldwide international exchange programs in its emphasis on reciprocal exchanges. The mutuality, inclusion, and hospitality that form the foundation of this UC program and its mission to increase cultural understanding and respect through education reflect the UC motto, “Let There Be Light”.