USAC partners with magistrate to promote cultural exchange

2/20/2009 - By: Skyler Dillon

Spending a semester or summer abroad provides University of Nevada, Reno students with a great resume boost, foreign language skills and wonderful memories. Now the Universities Studies Abroad Consortium and U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke are extending those advantages to law students in Spain and Chile.

Cooke became involved with USAC through her daughters, both of whom studied abroad with the program. When her daughter Brinn studied for a semester in San Sebastian, Spain in fall 2007, Cooke traveled to the University of the Basque Country, where the USAC San Sebastian program is located. She shared her legal expertise with the University's Law School students and faculty in a presentation on the American Federal Judicial System.

Cooke also offered an externship to Lucilla Talamazzi, a Spanish law student, for the following semester. Talamazzi worked for four months in the Reno District Court with Cooke and lived in accommodations arranged by USAC.

"Working and learning next to Judge Cooke everyday is probably the best experience that has happened to me so far," said Talamazzi.

Cooke also gave a presentation to the Faculty Legal Sciences at the Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago last month and has offered the same externship opportunity to a Chilean student. Cooke became involved with the Universidad Andres Bello, where the USAC Chile program is located, when her daughter Mary studied there in fall 2008. Together with the Santiago Chamber of Commerce, Cooke spoke about new approaches to conflict resolution and discussed how the North American justice system strongly favors non-adversarial solutions such as mediation. The presentation is one example of how USAC tries to extend its reach to students outside the U.S.

"The partnership [between Cooke and USAC] has fostered international and cultural exchange beyond traditional means," said Amy Ginder, Marketing and Publications Manager of USAC.

USAC chiefly works to send American students abroad, and it invites foreign students like Talamazzi to the U.S. as often as possible. The program's efforts have included inviting a group of University of the Basque Country students to the University of Nevada, Reno each summer to conduct research and learn about American culture. Last summer USAC also welcomed several Costa Rican students to Nevada to take English courses. The experience is often unforgettable.

"It enriched my professional background and also gave me the opportunity to get to know a bit about Nevada, its culture, its people and its community," said Talamazzi of her externship. "Through USAC and the District Court, I met a lot of people and formed great relationships."

USAC currently offers 39 study abroad programs in 25 countries. To learn more, or to learn how to earn university credit through its semester, yearlong, and summer programs, visit usac.unr.eduor call 866-404-USAC.


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