ACU, Mexican students taking part in international internship

From the Abilene Reporter News
June 10, 1999

Staff Writer,
Abilene-Reporter News

Siboney Velaquez didn't speak a word of English to Jennifer Baker when the two first met.

The Universidad Autonoma de la Laguna student was so nervous when she met Baker, she didn't know what to say.

And things were a little tenser because Velaquez didn't feel comfortable with her English.

But so far, Baker, an Abilene Christian University international business student, and Velaquez have learned a lot about each other, finding ways to speak to each other.

"We both had a real concern -- I've never been to Mexico, and she's never been to the United States," said Baker of the international internship program their two schools are participating in.

Even though Velaquez started learning English in elementary school, she finds reading and writing the language much easier than speaking it. But Baker is confident that in this type of situation, Velaquez will pick up the language more quickly.

And besides, Baker will experience firsthand what Velaquez is now going through when the two spend a month interning at John Deere's Mexican plant.

"It will be revenge," Velaquez joked.

Six other ACU students and six Mexican students are paired together for one month in Abilene and one month in Torreon, Mexico at various businesses.

Baker and Velaquez are working for the next three weeks at the Small Business Development Center, and their main job responsibility is to create a start-up plan, with step-by-step actions for people wanting to get into the exporting-importing business.

Baker is responsible for the main project, while Velaquez provides information on the exports and imports that Mexico offers. Baker is required to tailor the start-up plan to Abilene small business.

In Mexico, though, Baker, a international business student, and Velaquez, an accounting student, will trade places, and Baker will be Velaquez's major resource.

SBDC director Judy Wilhelm is happy she was able to become involved in the first program of its type at ACU.

"We were trying to figure out how we could tie small business and an internship together," she said. "We're unlike the other businesses participating."

Abilene Regional Medical Center, First National Bank and Hendrick Medical Center will be host to the remainder of thestudents. Those businesses have various departments for the students to work in, whereas the SBDC's employees take careof every aspect of the business.

Baker and Velaquez will also have opportunities throughout the internship to learn the center.

Wilhelm said her interns will spend time with each of the SBDC's employees, learning what each one does. They will alsomeet with the regional international businessperson for the Small Business Development Center.

Wilhelm also said there are plans to visit the SBDC's sister cities.

For now, Baker and Velaquez are finished with an outline and introduction for their plan.

With three weeks, will they be able to finish in time before going to Mexico to work at the John Deere plant?

Both looked at each other, smiled and nodded.

Next Thursday's Business Journal will feature Brett Roberson, Brittney Binder, Carlos Leal and Karla Pina's experiences at Hendrick Medical Center. Anna L. Derocher may be reached at (915) 676-6786 or


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Tom Craig, director of media and community relations, at or call 915-674-2692.

Last update: June 10, 1999
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