Joliet Junior College One of Seven Community Colleges in the Nation to Achieve Prestigious International Grant

Joliet Junior College was one of seven community colleges in the nation and one of only four colleges in Illinois to receive the International Studies and Foreign Language Education (UISFL) grant from the Department of Education this fall.

The $120,641 grant will allow the college to plan, develop, and carry out programs that strengthen and improve international studies and foreign language courses at the college. The first year of the grant will focus on Brazil, and pending congressional approval, additional funding for two more years of international programs is expected. 

JJC students and faculty visit Matsuyama Castle during a study abroad trip to Japan in the summer of 2014.

“This grant allows JJC to continue its goal of bringing international opportunities to students so that they can become competitive in the global marketplace,” said Tamara Ponzo Brattoli, professor of English and study abroad/international education coordinator. “It also offers JJC students and faculty several important benefits. Through it, we will be able to establish new study abroad options for our students in Brazil, Morocco and Taiwan. For students who cannot travel overseas, this grant will allow them to access international content in coursework and international programming on campus. In addition, the grant focuses on the teaching of U.S. Department of State-identified critical languages. Our students will have the opportunity to study Portuguese, Arabic, and Chinese— languages which are rarely taught in Illinois high schools.”

Six JJC faculty will visit Brazil in March 2015. Professors Tamara Ponzo Brattoli, Kristin LaTour, Nataliya Marchenko, Eileen McKee, Fredric Miller and Andy Neill will spend three days in Mogi Mirim, Brazil, on cultural exchange with faculty from Faculdades de Tecnologia do Estado de São Paulo (FATEC Mogi Mirim). They will also travel to Sao Paulo, the Atlantic rainforest, and visit a pacified favela community in Rio de Janeiro.

In August, students led by JJC faculty will spend approximately three weeks in Brazil, earning JJC credit while visiting the same locations in Brazil as the faculty, but spending additional in Mogi Mirim where they will interact with local college students from FATEC Mogi Mirim.

JJC students aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the grant. Students from Carl Sandberg College and Parkland College, which participate with JJC in a three-college consortium, will also be able to take advantage of this study abroad opportunity.

In additional to helpful fulfill an institutional goal of broadening international study and student exchange opportunities, this grant plays a key role in the college’s commitment to the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad program, pledging to double the number of students studying abroad over the next five years. JJC is one of 298 colleges and universities in the United States which have signed this pledge.

JJC has a long and successful history of achieving grants to expand international curriculum and exchange programs. Dr. Berta Arias, the college’s former coordinator of international education, managed several successful international grants which brought students and faculty to China, Japan, Jordan, and India in recent years.

The college also offers a robust study abroad program for students, with summer and full semester opportunities available in Matsuyama, Japan; Seville, Spain; San Jose, Costa Rica; Dijon, France; Salzburg, Austria; Xi’an, China; Canterbury, England; Carlow, Ireland; and Salzburg, Austria. Additional destinations are frequently added.

For more information on JJC’s study abroad programs, visit or contact Brattoli at (815) 280-2470 or



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