Las Cruces – Forty years after completing his dissertation research in Colombia, New Mexico State University Professor Everett Egginton will return to the country for six weeks with the help of the Fulbright Specialist Program.
This is the second time a Fulbright grant has helped make Egginton's trip to Latin America possible. When Egginton graduated from college, he joined the Peace Corps, where he served as a teacher in San Cristobal, Venezuela, close to the Colombian border. Egginton developed a sincere interest in the importance of education in improving life's chances, especially for the impoverished classes in both Venezuela and Colombia during his two years of service in the Peace Corps.
Egginton returned to the United States after the two years and earned his master's and Ph.D. in education and Latin American affairs. He was awarded the Fulbright grant, which allowed him to live in Colombia for two years while he completed his dissertation research. Egginton's dissertation focused on non-formal education and land reform and their effect on the social mobility of marginalized rural communities.
During his forthcoming six-week trip, beginning Sept. 19, Egginton will focus on providing assistance to six universities in Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia. Egginton hopes to assist each of these universities to internationalize their campuses and academic programs, to establish ties with universities in the U.S., and to develop long-term plans for internationalization.
"I would like the Colombians to embrace the need for them to internationalize programs and to graduate students who have an appreciation for diversity, who no longer view the world through the lenses of Colombia, but as global citizens," he said. "This is something we're not going to achieve overnight, but I firmly believe in the multiplier effect."
Egginton said establishing a team of people who are passionate about the same goals is essential. Egginton was able to meet with his colleagues from the six universities in Colombia last summer for a week and is excited to return to Colombia for an extended stay.
"It's a very emotional experience for me. I had my first tremendous eye-opening experience in the Peace Corps, and I came to love Latin America, with a very special feeling for Colombia and Colombians," Egginton said. "I learned so very much from them, and now it's time for me to give back. That's what I'm looking forward to doing."
Egginton also worked with universities in El Salvador from 1985 to 2003. He has been invited to give the keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Universidad Francisco Gavidia on September 9, a university he helped establish.
"I am looking forward to a variety of wonderful experiences in Latin America during my sabbatical semester," Egginton said.