MEXICO CITY — Americans studying in Latin America have stopped looking so intently at Mexico, which has dropped from first to fourth for U.S. students going abroad in the region in 10 years.
Only about 4,000 U.S. students study in Mexico, with crime and drug violence being the main deterrent. More American students go to Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil today than Mexico.
The U.S. government wants to boost the number to 100,000 for Latin America, one reason for coinciding visits Wednesday by both Secretary of State John Kerry and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who heads the 10-campus University of California system.
Napolitano said she wants to increase exchanges between UC and Mexican universities at all levels, from undergraduates to faculty and researchers. Student exchanges would help correct misperceptions on both sides of the border that Mexico is dangerous and that the United States is unfriendly to Mexicans, she added.
“The best way to change that is to have an actual experience,” Napolitano said. “There has to be marketing on both sides of the border if we’re going to make this work.”