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Spanish for Business Professor Receives Grant
To Visit Brazil, Argentina and Chile Next Summer

RELEASED: Nov. 30, 2007

Dr. Juan Carlos Chaves
Dr. Juan Carlos Chaves

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Juan Carlos Chaves, an assistant professor in the foreign languages department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has received a $5,000 grant from the Center for Business Education and Research at UW-Madison to attend the 12th annual MERCOSUR program to be held in Argentina, Brazil and Chile May 9-21, 2008.

Chaves, who teaches Spanish for Health Care Professions and Spanish for Business courses, said his goal is to internationalize UW-Eau Claire's Spanish for Business curriculum, one of just a few such programs offered at universities in the United States, by incorporating information on culture and politics that affect business issues and the global integration of various countries in the Spanish-speaking world.

MERCOSUR, which stands for Mercado Común del Sur or Southern Common Market, is a regional trade agreement between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción and later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people and currency between member nations, with a South and Central American integration focus. Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru currently have associate member status. Venezuela signed a membership agreement in 2006, but its membership has not yet been ratified by all the current members.

According to Chaves, the organization has become increasingly political in recent years, and the ensuing disagreements, exemplified by the controversy over the ratification of Venezuela's membership, have threatened its effectiveness as a trade organization.

"It's important for students who want to pursue careers in international business that utilize their Spanish to understand these issues," Chaves said, noting that he currently has about 67 students in the Spanish for Business program, which has continued to grow in popularity.

Chaves has immediate plans to integrate the new information he gathers on this trip into at least four courses he currently teaches: "Business Culture in the Spanish Speaking World" (Span 306), "Spanish for Business" (Span 340), "Government, Business and Media in Spain and Latin America" (Span 421) and "Spanish Business Writing" (Span 440). He said that these courses currently include no information at all about Brazil (where both Portuguese and Spanish are spoken) and only limited information on Chile and Argentina, so he is looking forward to updating and expanding them.

Chaves said he visited Spain in 2002 with a similar purpose.

Although he is originally from Argentina himself and still has many family members there, Chaves said this visit will not take him near where they live and is too tightly scheduled to allow him time to visit. The program will begin with 5-6 days in Brazil, with visits to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, moving on to 4-5 days in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then a final 2-3 days in Santiago, Chile.

Chaves also said he expects that the opportunity to network and make personal contacts in these countries will translate into more travel and study opportunities for his students.

Although the MERCOSUR grant may not be used to purchase any materials, Chaves was pleasantly surprised when an anonymous donor recently contributed $1,000 to allow him to purchase textbooks, videos, CDs, magazines and journals to bring back for use by his students.

"I'm so excited and very grateful that someone wanted to support our Spanish for Business program in this way," Chaves said.

For more information on the MERCOSUR program grant or the CIBER consortium, which includes Florida International University, Brigham Young University, Texas A & M University, University of Conecticut, University of Delaware, University of Florida, University of Memphis, University of South Carolina and UW-Madison, contact Chaves at 715-836-4908 or chavejc@uwec.edu.

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NW

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