From left, COM director of international affairs Martin Perez, Vice President of Instruction Dr. Amy Locklear, student Anthony Solis, professor Luis Sabido, student Julian Saldierna and student Leonardo Hernandez.

When Julian Saldierna and Leonardo Hernandez took a French class at Dickinson High School for fun, they didn’t know they would put their skills to use while studying abroad in Canada through a College of the Mainland program.

Saldierna and Hernandez will join Stanley Solis, another COM student, to travel to College Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick in New Brunswick, Canada. There they will take classes on the French language and culture and practice cabinetmaking and woodworking using green building techniques.
“This is the beauty of the program, that it provides hands-on experience,” said COM program coordinator Luis Sabido. The program is funded by a North American Mobility Grant.
The students have different majors and ideas about how to best use their new skills.
After completing his associate degree in education at COM, Solis plans to continue his education and eventually teach high school history.
“I’ll be able to bring what I learn to the classroom,” Solis said.
His approach to green building is rooted in history.
“These aren’t the first green builders. The Greeks and Romans produced things using wood. The materials are the same,” Solis said.
Planning to become an architect, Hernandez wants to incorporate what he learns in future designs. He also plans to take the opportunity to sample gourmet cuisine.
“I’m going to [try] all the French cheeses,” he said.

Saldierna, who interned last summer at NASA and plans to be a mechanical engineer, looks forward to the hands-on classes.
“As a little kid, I enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked,” he said.
In a high school robotics class he fell in love with engineering, sometimes working until 3 a.m. to finish projects. He feels grateful for the opportunity to study abroad.
“So many other people [could] have qualified for it. They chose me,” he said. “It’s helping me achieve my goals.”
Sabido, a COM professor, headed the committee that interviewed and selected the applicants.
“It was a competitive process,” he said. “I’m confident they will be good representatives of College of the Mainland.”
He knows they have much to learn—and to share when they return.
“An exposure to green building strategies is important. Even more important is the cultural experience and interacting with people who are diverse. The students will come back prepared for the real world. They will be able share that with the community and campus when they return.”