The program – which served more than 6,500 students from 135 countries from 2015 to 2019 – was given The President’s “E” Award by the US Department of Commerce for its contributions to American export growth.

The department highlighted the “creative marketing of US community college education to foreign students”, as well as its online education development with a local support component for its international cohort.

“We are thrilled that our GOL program has been recognised for its reach… across the globe”

“San Mateo Colleges of Silicon Valley’s achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the US economy and create American jobs,” US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross said at the time.

The community college was the only educational institution among the 28 companies and businesses in 2020 recognised, which SMCCCD chancellor Michael Claire said was down to “tremendous work our team has done to grow and support our international educational program”.

“We believe that engaging international students to come and study at our colleges enriches the culture, education and diversity of our campuses and our community. This award is further validation of that belief.”

“We are thrilled that our Global Online Learning (GOL) program has been recognised for its reach from Silicon Valley to parts across the globe, while emphasising local connections and support for students,” provost for international education and leader of the District’s San Mateo Colleges of Silicon Valley Jing Luan said.

“As we diversify our delivery methods and bring our classrooms to students’ homes across the world, we expect greater opportunities for learning and success for all students.”

The District also signed a memorandum of understanding with Taipei Municipal Heping High School and Taipei Municipal Chenggong High School in Taiwan which will allow a cohort of high school students to enrol and earn credit in District classes while studying at their high schools in Taipei.

With many formal and informal partnerships with high schools, this agreement was the first in the institution’s GOL partnership.

“What is very important and unique about this partnership is that we are inviting students from Grade 10 and above to participate in our cohort learning so that the high schools can facility and monitor the students’ progress using the theories of ‘learning community’,” Luan told The PIE.

“When young students are supported by peers, they tend to stay in the program. GOL is beneficial to the government as well because it provides the extracurricular to students in order to fulfil its… bilingual nation push. From all angles, it works to each other’s benefits.”

Other reasons Luan highlighted for the institution’s growth and success up to 2020 were: its relationships with parents, school counsellors and governmental agencies; its in-house homestay program; championing community college benefits and bringing university transfer personnel to study fairs; and its scholarships.

The institution’s foreign brand name is San Mateo Colleges of Silicon Valley which “is an indication that we do things differently”, Luan continued.

“We want people to understand what we do, remember us easily vs. trying to understand what ‘community’, ‘district’, etc all meant. Yet, we still retain the key words of San Mateo and Colleges,” he told The PIE.

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