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CLC International outreach benefits students in a global economy

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Oct 31, 2017

In a web-connected world and global economy of the 21st century, CLC has been at the forefront in helping students develop a global perspective for nearly 20 years.

Since 1999, CLC has enrolled more than 1,200 international students from over 50 nations, according to the college’s Institutional Effectiveness, Planning and Research department. Additionally, the college sent nearly 700 students abroad to study between Spring 2001 and Fall 2017.

Instructor Jill Bruellman and former student Violeta RamirezA three-week field study trip to Japan in 2015 proved life-changing for Violeta Ramirez of Mundelein, who was then a CLC freshman and is now majoring in global studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A first-generation college student, Ramirez said she had never been outside the U.S. prior to the Japan trip, and meeting the Japanese students at Ehime University was a highlight. “We got to know each other despite the language barrier,” recalled Ramirez. “Because of that experience, I realized that I had a passion for travel and wanted to build a career related to travel and learning international languages.” Photo: Instructor Jill Bruellman catches up with former student Violeta Ramirez, who is now studying at Ajou University, South Korea.

A scholarship from CLC’s Center for International Education, which covered half the cost of the trip, helped make her travel dream come true.

Upon returning, Ramirez worked in CLC’s Center for International Education as an international peer mentor. After earning an A.A. degree and transferring to UW-Milwaukee, she did a short-term field study in China and is currently in South Korea for a year-long study abroad trip. Eventually, she would like to work either as a college immigration advisor or international outreach coordinator.

Ramirez said international ventures enrich the college experience. “When you’re traveling abroad, you learn to respect other cultures and build friendships that transcend cultural differences,” she said. “And having international students in the classroom at CLC is so important, because we get to hear opinions and questions from a different cultural perspective.”

International exposure offers practical benefits too, said Jill Bruellman, who led the Japan trip and is a CLC professor of English language instruction and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages certificate program. “Global awareness is a critical skill for the 21st century, and one way to develop this skill is through study abroad,” she said. “Students have an opportunity to develop cultural awareness, flexibility and problem-solving skills. They learn about themselves, their country, their language and their own world view.”

Jacob Cushing, coordinator at CLC’s Center for International Education, said, “The world is connected now more than ever. By studying abroad, CLC students are gaining interpersonal skills and cultural sensitivity that will help them stand out from other job applicants. And here at CLC, our international students—113 in this semester alone—are educating students, staff and faculty every day, whether answering simple questions about their culture or making formal presentations.”

Resume-building experiences such as Ramirez’s trip to Japan have been offered by CLC for decades. In 2018, CLC students can choose from seven short-term trips in late spring/early summer: Italy (one culinary focus, one business-related); Japan; Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany; Iceland; Tanzania (service learning); and Costa Rica. For more information, visit Or contact Liliana Ware at or (847) 543-2563.

Besides three-week trips, CLC has offered semester-long programs in China since 2008. Led by CLC faculty, the semester includes courses at Xi’an International University and educational tours of sites such as the Terracotta Warriors. The next semester-abroad program in China will be spring 2019.

Beyond the study abroad programs, CLC’s international outreach is evident in other ways:

  • In 2012, CLC established an American Cultural Center at Xi’an International University in Xi’an, China. CLC is one of only 12 American colleges and universities—and the only community college—selected to be partner institutions in a U.S. State Department program to establish American cultural centers in China. The 8,600 square-foot facility includes books, magazines, DVDs and posters, and topics range from slavery and Jim Crow laws to the Marx Brothers and baseball.
  • In 2010, CLC received the Andrew Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education, which recognizes outstanding initiatives conducted in international higher education by member universities and colleges.

For more information on CLC’s Center for International Education, visit

To discover more extraordinary things you might not know about CLC, visit throughout the 2017-18 academic year.