Supporting English-Language Learning and Educational Exchanges With Brazil

Posted by Ann Stock
April 21, 2012
Assistant Secretary Ann Stock With Students in Brazil

Olá from Washington, D.C.! We're home again after a busy and exciting trip to Brasilia and São Paulo.

Tuesday was the first-annual meeting of the Open Government Partnership, whose member countries contain a quarter of the world's population. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Rousseff of Brazil, President Kikwete of Tanzania, and Prime Minister Gilauri of Georgia all spoke on the impact that government transparency and openness can make on the global community. More than 800 representatives from over 60 countries and more than 200 civil society organizations were in attendance.

Later, I met with members of the Brazilian university community who visited the United States in March. They included the Director of the University of Brasilia's International Relations Office Luc François, Brazilian professors, an English Language Fellow, and two American Masters students. A major theme of our conversation was incentivizing Portuguese language learning in the United States and promoting English3, the U.S. Embassy Brasilia's innovative immersion program.

Afterwards, Brazil's federal government education team discussed ways to enhance our current cooperation. We focused on secondary school teacher training, English and Portuguese language programs, distance learning, and sending U.S. students, researchers, and faculty to Brazil to support 100,000 Strong in the Americas.

I also spoke about educational opportunities for youth to 90 students from various ECA programs, including Youth Ambassadors, Student Leaders, prospective Youth Council members, English3 applicants, Binational Center representatives, Science Without Borders scholarship recipients, and potential exchange and language students. Students, in turn, shared their experiences and reiterated their continued interest in U.S.-based internships and other programs. We thanked the students and then headed to the airport to catch our flight to São Paulo.

Wednesday began with a meeting with the Secretary of Education of the State of São Paulo, Herman Voorwald. São Paulo has the largest state education system in Brazil. With 5,271 schools, 235,000 teachers and 4.3 million students, the state will be a key partner in reaching our education goals with Brazil. Under Secretary Voorwald's leadership, São Paulo's students are already seeing exciting changes, including new emphasis on strengthening teacher incentives, special needs programs, reading and writing instruction, technology, and more. I was excited to collaborate with this department -- everyone was so supportive of English language programs and exploring future partnerships.

Next, we visited Centro Paula Souza, a public education network of technical and vocational high schools and colleges for nearly 300,000 students across the state, and met with a group of students. The Center sponsors a one-month English and cultural immersion program in the United States for 500 students and 100 teachers.

Meeting local ECA alumni was a true highlight of the trip -- we had a chance to hear about how learning English had transformed their lives and enabled their experiences through the E-Teacher Scholarship, English Certificate for Brazilian Public School English Teachers, English Access Microscholarship Program, and the International Visitor Leadership Programs.

The day -- and the trip -- ended on a high note at the Shooting Stars Basketball Program. It's a program run by the Social Service of Commerce (SESC) in São Paulo, a cultural organization profiled by the New York Times that serves 41 million people on a $600 million annual budget. Shooting Stars is the SESC's exciting one-year pilot project that uses sports to promote English language and leadership training for at-risk public school students. During our visit, I even stepped up and took a shot from the foul line -- and scored!

It was the perfect ending to a great visit. Our two countries have all the foundations of a strong, lasting partnership -- and I cannot wait to see where that partnership will take us.

Editor's Note: Assistant Secretary Ann Stock was on travel this week in Brazil with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Follow @AnnAtState on Twitter for updates on her travel and more on U.S. educational partnerships with Brazil.

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