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Community College Abroad in France – Expanding Access to Affordable Study in France

After a successful pilot year in 2017, the Cultural and Scientific Services of the French Embassy are pleased to announce the renewal of the Community College Abroad in France” program, in partnership with Community Colleges for International Development and the Network n+i (a network of 50 top engineering schools in France). The Community College Abroad in France program includes two components: a 10-day, for-credit summer bootcamp taking place in June, and a four-year, degree-granting program starting in the summer of 2018.

Part of the “Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative,” a dual initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched in 2014 to increase and diversify student mobility across Atlantic, the Community College program embodies the French Embassy’s mission to reach out to new audiences, in this case American students who have been traditionally underrepresented in study abroad programs. Although more than 40% of U.S. undergraduates are enrolled in community college, only 1.8% of U.S. undergraduate students in study abroad programs are students from community colleges. This unique program gives students a chance to study abroad short-term, with the opportunity to pursue a full degree in France.

10-day For-Credit Bootcamp

A specially crafted, 10-day bootcamp took place in Paris from June 11th to 20th and brought together 16 community college students specializing in engineering and environmental science with two faculty members. The students came from eight community colleges across the U.S.: Bellevue College (WA), Central Piedmont Community College (NC), Manchester Community College (CT), LaGuardia Community College (NY), Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (WI), Roxbury Community College (MA), Sinclair Community College (OH), and Kirkwood Community College (IA). These students were able to experience why Paris is ranked the 10th most ecologic city in Europe and the 3rd in world in terms of sustainable mobility.

The bootcamp, aimed at illustrating the theme of “sustainable development,” included a series of professional and scientific visits and conferences in Paris to learn about air quality control, public transportation, public lighting and urban heating. Students visited places such as the swimming pool Butte-Aux-Cailles, the first in Paris to be equipped with digital boilers, which will save 45 tons of CO2 per years; urban and connected beehives in downtown Paris, which produce honey certified to be “Made in Paris”; POMA, a world leader in silent ropeway transportation to improve urban traffic; and a construction site tour of the future train station at La Défense, part of an extension of the RER E towards the west of Paris.

Other events included a conference by Keolis, the largest private sector French transportation group, which develops public transportation solutions worldwide and commits to sustainable and connected mobility; and a meeting with EVESA, to learn about how the lighting system of Paris is being reinvigorated, with the replacement of old energy-consuming lamps and equipment by LED lighting and the use of pedestrian-detecting technology by the Seine yielding over 80% energy savings.

Four-year Master’s Degree-Granting Program

Offering graduate studies abroadthis one-of-a-kind 4-year degree-granting program in France is open to a small group of hand-selected students, following the completion of their 2-year Associate Degree at a U.S. community college with honors. The selected students are offered the unique opportunity to complete a Diplôme d’ingénieur (Master’s level Engineering Degree) within four years of graduating from a community college. 

Students begin the program with a pre-Diplôme d’ingénieur, a preparatory year in France that allows them to become acquainted with new methods of study and to strengthen their French language skills. This is followed by a 3-year work-study Diplôme d’ingénieur at one of the 50 top engineering schools of the n+i network. The program is designed to offer students professionalized training while enabling them to auto-finance their degree. Students attend classes part-time while completing a paid part-time internship. Last year’s inaugural laureate, Daniela Markovic from the honors college at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, has developed new French language skills and become acclimated to French culture. She is now starting her second year by joining a French company for her internship. The newest laureate, Diego Ortiz-Vigil, also from Lone Star College, leaves to begin the degree-granting program in July.

Feedback from Pilot Year: A Successful Experience

“I am now seriously considering applying for a Master’s degree in urban planning. I definitely feel that the program of the “n+” network has made me rethink my future career plans.”
            - 2017 alumnus Diana Calderon

“Before the trip, I was indecisive about what to do with my chemical engineering major, but after visiting the Biogis Center and exploring more about biomass conversion, I know that I want to research ways that biomass conversion can help reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use.”
            - 2017 alumnus Monica Argumedo

“Ever since I got back from France, I have been really careful about using less water, recycling, saving electricity, etc. It was really a learning experience to see how the French work together to conserve energy, fight climate change and protect the environment. I used to want to be a mechanical engineer, but now my focus will be on designing products and developing equipment to clean up existing environmental problems.”
            - 2017 alumnus Dhrumil Shah