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July 2006 issue

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Inbound Brazil

Brazil is stepping up as the newest study destination offering a range of opportunities – from language and volunteering to MBAs and football training. Amy Baker visits the country to get a first-hand look at what's on offer.

We take a very realistic approach to placement,” says Gabriella Salles, President of World Study in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. “There will be some problems, so we explain to students how to cope.”

Salles is typical of many in the Brazilian agency industry who started dealing exclusively with outbound students and has now encompassed inbound training programmes into her company’s repertoire. With a psychologist at World Study talking to outbound students and newly arriving clients, and a range of inbound programmes that include Amazon Adventure, Soccer Exchange Programme and High School Experience, the company is now an attractive overseas partner for agents interested in sending clients to Brazil.

World Study receives students from overseas agencies such as AIFS in Germany, who sent a scholarship high school student, Saskia, who I met while on a fam tour of Brazil organised by the Brazilian Education and Language Travel Association (Belta). “We have the most experience in high school placements and then in soccer camps and the Amazonian adventure programme, which we started with a reliable partner last year,” recounts Salles.

There has been an explosion of activity in Brazil in terms of inbound programmes being offered in the last few years. Tatiana Mendes, President of Belta, says that support from the Brazilian government to develop such programmes has meant that many companies are able to capitalise on what was already a latent demand for courses in Brazil.

“Many agents and universities were already receiving requests [for programmes], and the number of international students in Brazil was growing every year,” reports Mendes. “Since last year, with support from government for international promotion, it became easier and less expensive to market programmes abroad. This initiative increased the possibilities not only for big companies, but for owners of small- and medium-sized agencies to invest in the quality of their courses.”

Mendes reports that word-of-mouth recommendation has led to rising recognition that Brazil does certain niche products very well. “Football and culinary arts, social work or higher education courses here are becoming popular around the world,” she says.

The range of programmes on offer is as wide, if not wider, than in any other study destination, possibly because many inbound operators are aware that the Portuguese language alone is not sufficient to attract visitors to Brazil.

Daniel José is Manager of Come2Brazil, the inbound department of Central de Intercambio (CI) agency. He comments that Portuguese is often studied to complement another purpose in Brazil – it is not one of the important business languages. “People rarely come to Brazil just for the purpose of learning Portuguese. People study it because they like the musicality of the language, but not due to its global importance,” he says.

However, José attests that understanding Portuguese helps all their candidates, for internship programmes, volunteering “and even our football clinic”. Therefore Portuguese classes are offered in tandem with all the Come2Brazil

programmes, normally in collaboration with CI’s local partner in Sao Paulo and Campinas, St Giles. 

Come2Brazil and CI afford me an opportunity to come face-to-face with a Brazilian footballing legend, Edmar, in Campinas, who I did not know by name, although I knew of his fellow sportsman, Pele, of course. Edmar runs a football training camp with Careca, another famous ex-footballer, which is three hours from Sao Paulo. The set-up is impressive, with a number of football pitches, indoor gym and swimming pool. José explains that international students typically stay in group dormitories there for two weeks and have four hours of football training each day.

A group of Koreans are there when I visit, with an agent leader, and Edmar seems genuinely affectionate towards his latest group of protegés, each of whom are given a nickname of a famous Brazilian footballer during their stay. The students live alongside young Brazilians from all over the country.

Another contented inbound client who I meet is Hannah Günter, a high school student from Germany, who has flourished during her time in Brazil and picked up the language impeccably, or so it seems to a novice in the Portuguese language. She is spending an academic year at Bennett High School in Rio de Janeiro, placed by AFS.

“I wanted to [undertake a high school year programme], firstly because you learn another language,” recounts Hannah, who says it took her six months to really feel fluent in Portuguese (she now has a local Rio accent). “You really change in this year and get a bigger horizon,” she explains, adding, “I wanted to come to South America because I liked the happiness of the people.”

This Latin American warmth, identified by a number of students I met, seems to translate into satisfied students on inbound programmes in Brazil. Santuza Bicalho at STB Brazil, which also offers a range of programmes around the country, talks about the host families used to host their high school students and student satisfaction with them – STB has spent two years trialling its high school programme with a small number of clients.

“All host families are volunteers, they don’t want money to be a part of the experience,” Bicalho relates. “Receiving money [to host students] is a strange concept for some Brazilian Catholic families – they are interested in the cultural exchange and don’t want to receive payment.” Others in Brazil agree and underline that host families are vetted and chosen for their interest in hosting students, not just housing students. Efforts are frequently made to match families to students too – STB recently tracked down a family with a piano-playing son to suit a muscial Japanese high school student.

In Orvo Preto, a historic town built on a hilltop not far from Belo Horizonte, where the cobbled streets and café culture make you noticeably slow down, Intuition Travel offers a range of programmes in coordination with Universidad Federal Orvo Preto (UFOP), which has two campuses in Orvo Preto itself (which, aside from its charm, has the best cheese bread in Brazil). Students can study survival Portuguese in the university and team this 20-hours-per-week programme with any of the other courses that UFOP offers in English, such as Baroque Art, or soapstone scuplture – a local speciality.

Claudia Rocha at Intuition Travel explains that younger students may like to stay in one of the many repúblicas (small student residences) in Orvo Preto itself, which has around 60,000 inhabitants. Otherwise, there are a range of host families to choose from, including a “rustic” option that Rocha has been developing recently. She tells me that she has introduced typical rural families to the idea of hosting international students – and as well as students finding themselves compelled to speak to their hosts in Portuguese, they will also see the families baking bread at home, traditionally over the fireplace. “These families will treat international guests like royalty!” assures Rocha, who sources all the families herself.

In Florianopolis, in the south of Brazil, I get to visit a host family that has accommodated a client of Experimento, which runs social volunteering projects in the city and elsewhere throughout Brazil. The house is spotless, with the added attraction of a swimming pool in the garden. I tell Experimento’s Gabriela Petry that the mother and daughter must have spent some time cleaning the house, but she assures me that they were given five minutes’ notice! The daughter wants to be an au pair in the USA, so the family thought it would be interesting to host a native English speaker.

I visit a number of different volunteering projects here – schools in deprived areas – and meet volunteers in their place of work. The experience of visiting these schools, full of noisy, friendly and wide-eyed children, leaves a lasting impression on me and my fellow fam trippers. Children of all ages run up to us and stare – some are keen to use some English that they have been taught.

British volunteer, Charlotte Baker, is typical of many of the volunteers placed by Experimento, spending three months in Brazil working with children and teachers and providing classroom support and much needed attention and affection for children whose only stability (and possibly, only meal) comes from their school environment. “It’s a cliché,” she says, “but you do learn a lot about yourself [doing this]. It has been difficult sometimes but it really is worth it when you get something back from the children.”

Eugenia Colzani at Aflov, which runs one of the schools I visit, underlines that having volunteers from overseas in the classroom is an valuable window to the world for the children there. Davina Cowan, who runs all of Experimento’s volunteering programmes, later attests that as valuable as the experience is for the children, it is probably more rewarding for those who volunteer.

As well as trying to make the world a better place, Brazil also offers opportunities to enable students to better themselves and their cv. One such opportunity is at Eaton Corporation in Caxias do Sul, where Roberto Birch Gonçalves, IT & Business Excellence Manager, is a keen advocate of interns in the company. The infrastructure is already in place and a salary of R3.63 (US$1.70) per hour, plus food and transport, is set, but the programme is so new that no interns have been placed so far.

For candidates interested in working for a company that specialises in fluid power, electrical, automotive and truck engineering, a warm welcome awaits. Gonçalves says, “We would like the interns to stay, ideally! They enter a world-class company, get trained, and if they wish to have a future in this company, the door is open.” Interns at Eaton are expected to have an intermediate command of English prior to placement, and Portuguese would be an advantage. Goncalves points out that the local university could provide language training as well as an international environment and there is also a Yazigi school in the town – Yazigi schools offer Portuguese language training across the country.

My final visit on my trip to Brazil is to two higher education establishments in Sao Paulo, a top university, FGV, and a private MBA school, BSP, which emphasises that all of its courses are taught in English. At the university, an MBA programme is offered in English, called OneMBA, and students can also enrol on its standard MBA programmes.

All these study options are available through a company called Easygoing, an agency run by two ex-MBA students who met while studying. Ricardo Merzvinskas at Easygoing explains that a typical programme organised for clients will be a two-week course at BSP, offering an introduction to Brazilian business methods and site visits to companies. As with all the other companies in the inbound sector in Brazil, however, he stresses that they are flexible and will try and arrange any programme to suit the needs of clients. This personal approach must be working, as Mendes points out that up until now, “Word of mouth has been [Brazil’s] main marketing tool.”


Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company
Country
Telephone

Email


ASSOCIATIONS/
GROUPS
Acpet
Asociación Gallega
       de Escuelas de
       Español - AGAES
Education New
       Zealand Trust
English Australia
English UK
MEI-Relsa
Quality English
Turlingua -
       Consortium of
       Language
       Travel and Tourism

WORKSHOPS/EXPOS
ACPET
Alphe
       Workshops/LTM
       Star Awards
ICEF

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism
       Authority
SERVICES
Language Travel
       Phonecard

AUSTRALIA
Acpet
English Australia
Sydney West
       International College

BRAZIL
Central de
       Intercâmbio
       - Come 2 Brazil
IDIOMA Escola de
       Português
STB - Student Travel
       Bureau - Inbound

CANADA
Access International

CHINA
Mandarin House

ENGLAND
Anglolang Academy
       of English
Aspect (Australia,
       Canada, England,
       France, Germany,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Scotland, South
       Africa, Spain, USA)
Beet Language
       Centre
Bell International
       (Malta, UK)
Bristol Language
       Centre
Cambridge Academy
       of English
Churchill House
Cicero Languages
       International
Eastbourne School
       of English
Eckersley School of
       English
English Language
       Centre Brighton &
       Hove
English UK
Excel English
       Language School

Frances King
       School of English
King Street College
Lake School of
       English
LAL Language and
       Leisure
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa, USA)
Languages Out
       There (England,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, Spain)
London School of
       English
Malvern House
Mountlands
       Language School
Oxford Brookes
       University
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
       College
St Giles Colleges
       (UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       Spain, USA)
University of
       Sheffield (England)
West London
       Business College
Wimbledon School
       of English

GERMANY
Prolog- International
       House Berlin

IRELAND
Cork Language
       Centre International
Linguaviva Centre
MEI-Relsa

MALTA
International English
       Language Centre
Linguatime
Malta Tourism
       Authority
NSTS

MONACO
Home Language
       International
       (Argentina,
       Australia, Austria,
       Brazil, Canada,
       Chile, China,
       England, France,
       Germany, Holland,
       Italy, Japan, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Portugal, Russia,
       Spain, USA)

NEW ZEALAND
Auckland English
       Academy
Education New
       Zealand Trust
Languages
       International
Rotorua English
       Language Academy

POLAND
York School

RUSSIA
Language Link,
       Russia
Liden & Denz
       Language Centre

SOUTH AFRICA
Cape Studies -
       Pacific Gateway
       Study Group
Interlink School of
       Languages
International House
       - Durban
Jeffrey's Bay
       Language Centre
South African
       School of English

SPAIN
Asociación Gallega
       de Escuelas de
       Español - AGAES
Hispalengua
Kingsbrook -
       Spanish for
       Foreigners
Pamplona Learningn
       Spanish Institute
Turlingua -
       Consortium of
       Language Travel
       and Tourism

SWITZERLAND
EF Language
       Colleges Ltd
       (Australia, Canada,
       China, Ecuador,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, Malta, New
       Zealand, Russia,
       Scotland, Spain,
       USA)

USA
American Language
       Communication
       Center
California State
       University
       Northridge
California State
       University
       San Marcos
Kaplan Educational
       Centers (Canada,
       England, USA)
University of
       California Santa
       Cruz
University of
       Houston
University of
       Nebraska at Omaha
Zoni Language
       Centers


EDUCATION TRAVEL MAGAZINE

AUSTRALIA
St Paul's
       International School

CANADA
Richmond School
       District #38

ENGLAND
Oxford Brookes
       University

SCOTLAND
University of
       Glasgow

USA
Xincon Technology
       School