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CSG pilot program gives grants to students studying abroad

By Giacomo Bologna, Staff Reporter
Published January 23, 2013

While Central Student Government announced the program only a month before the start of this semester, Take U-M Abroad has already given six University students studying abroad this semester $1,000 each for an individual project.

The program, which was described as stamping the block ‘M’ across the globe, had over 40 applicants, according to LSA freshman Nicole Mott, the CSG intern who headed the program. Student participants in the program are traveling to countries such as South Korea, Australia and Spain.

The program had few stipulations for applicants; Mott said CSG was originally expecting only 20 to 25 applications. She was pleased that the original estimation was exceeded and added that most of the projects were hard to pass on.

“We actually had a hard time deciding between different projects because they were all pretty good,” Mott said.

The program originally only allotted money for five scholarships, but Mott said a sixth was added when CSG found one program submitted after the deadline to be deserving. The money awarded to students is not being used to fund the trips, but is to be used only to fund projects that students start while abroad.

Mott said she will be checking in with the participating students during the semester to ensure their funds are being used appropriately. She added that maintaining “cultural sensitivity” was also a top priority for the students participating in the Take U-M Abroad program.

“You don’t really want to impose your views on anyone else,” she said. “I think it’s important to look for projects that are not only a good idea, but also are adaptable.”

One student is going to make a “cross-cultural cookbook” that draws from the foods of Michigan and Cape Verde, an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean near Africa, where the student will be studying. Sales of the cookbook will go toward funding charities in Cape Verde.

Following the participating students’ trips abroad, Mott said CSG will be creating a booklet and a presentation with the results. She added that CSG is looking to continue the program through summer term and may look for more ways to institutionalize it.

In an e-mail interview, Business senior Manish Parikh, the president of CSG, called the program “spectacular” and noted its ability to “create impact globally,”

“A program like this is unique to Michigan,” Parikh wrote. “(It’s) our small way of making The Michigan Difference.”