Paraguayan students fulfill dream of studying abroad

  Thursday, March 4, 2021 11:30 AM
  Campus Culture, Academics, People and Society, News

Pittsburg, KS


Four students from Paraguay are on campus at Pittsburg State University this semester as part of the recently implemented Paraguayan National Scholarship Program and they’ve all noticed something that surprised them: there are many similarities between Paraguay and the U.S. 

“Before I came to the U.S., I thought I would find differences in every single situation I would face. However, it was not like that,” said Felix Llamosas Cubilla, who is from Pittsburg’s sister city, Encarnacion, and who had long dreamed of studying abroad. “We have a lot more in common than I thought." 

The scholarship program, known as BECAL, sends undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals to top universities and research centers around the world for one semester, all expenses paid. The Paraguayan government chose Committee Paraguay Kansas to administer the program, so recipients are placed only in Kansas universities.  

Cubilla is majoring in civil engineering in Paraguay with an eye toward construction management and urban planning, so chose to take courses in PSU’s School of Construction while here.  

He also serves as a volunteer firefighter in Paraguay and was surprised that when he expressed a desire to see a U.S. fire station, PSU and the City of Pittsburg collaborated with the Pittsburg fire chief to arrange a tour of one near campus.  

Leila Lesme, whose major in Paraguay is architecture with an eye toward sustainable architecture, chose to study in PSU's Interior Design program. 

Since I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to study abroad,” Lesme said. “Assignments and exams are a little different here, but Paraguay and the U.S. have many things in common, like the polite and helpful people and professors who are always there to answer your questions.” 

Yessica Ugarte, who is majoring in business and is taking classes in PSU’s Kelce College of Business but also classes across campus to get a broad view, is deeply honored to have been chosen. 

“I feel immense gratitude to the Comité Paraguay Kansas, BECAL, and Pittsburg State University,” Ugarte said. “All of them are the ones to say ‘yes’ and offer this invaluable opportunity. This is a step further in the road to becoming the professional that I aspire to be one day. 

Like the others, Ugarte has found people here to be welcoming. 

There is always somebody to ask for help, there is always somebody to cheer you up, to say hello. People are kind — the lady in the dining hall telling you to have a good day, the secretary in the library receiving you with a smile, people in the international office always remind you that they are there, teachers answering patiently all our doubts, the list can go on and on,” Ugarte said. 

The biggest difference? 

“The huge number of resources available for students...Everything is settled in order to help us in the path,” Ugarte said. “Probably one of my favorite places is the Leonard H. Axe Library. Besides that, the option students have of taking courses outside their main field of study; is very interesting and useful to develop various skills.” 

Also chosen for the scholarship program was Fatima Estigarribia. 

This marks the third time PSU has received students in the program, says Director of International Programs and Services Aaron Hurt. 

“It’s been so successful that PSU hopes to continue to receive a new group of Paraguayan students each semester,” he said. 

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