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UPDATED: President Leslie E. Wong signed SF State into its first partnership with a Mexican university Aug. 29 at their campus in Tijuana, opening doors for an exchange of students, faculty and research between the institutions.

“At San Francisco we’ve been looking to Asia and to Europe, and interestingly enough we had no partners in Mexico,” said Wong in a video interview with Tijuana Press. “And about a third of our students are of Mexican heritage, have hispanic heritage, and I thought, why aren’t we looking south?”

The partnership with Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS), a Mexican university with campuses in Tijuana, Mexicali and Ensenada, is aligned with a national push for the exchange of students between the United States and Mexico, known as Proyecta 100,000.

The government project, which SF State can now better contribute to since the California State University (CSU) system recently reversed the suggestion that its students not study in parts of Mexico, intends to send 100,000 undergraduate students from Mexico to the United States, and 50,000 from the United States to Mexico, over the next five years.

“For several years with the disruptions that were occurring in Mexico, travel was not encouraged by the CSU,” said Robert Nava, vice president for university advancement, “But the situation has improved.”

Last week, Nava crossed the border with Wong and Jose Galvan, associate vice president and dean of the college of extended learning, for a two-day visit to the Tijuana campus, where he was “not at all” worried about safety.

“We were so impressed,” said Nava. “There’s a lot of economic developments in the city. We felt very secure and we were very impressed with the infrastructure and their culture. (It’s) a very dynamic city.”

Though Wong said that the partnership is centered around the colleges of business between universities in the interview with Tijuana press, it will apply to other schools at SF State as well, according to Nava.

“Its going to provide our students and faculty an opportunity to develop greater professional experiences in Mexico and Latin America,” said Nava.

According to Nava, Wong first made connection with CETYS through his personal relationship with their president, Dr. Fernando Leon Garcia, and through an intern and mentee of his, who traveled to SF State from the Mexican university.

“Dr. Lupe Sanchez did an American Council for Education fellowship (at SF State),” said Nava of the intern. “It’s a very distinguished fellowship, and she was here for a year observing President Wong and doing a menteeship.”

Following the partnership, other schools in the CSU system, including Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, have expressed interest in partnerships south of the border, according to Wong. San Diego State University has already partnered with CETYS, according to Nava.