Jan 27, 2015

FVCC Hosts Top Brazilian Math and Science Students

DENVER –Students of Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) reunited with nine of Brazil’s top math and science students at Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Mont., Saturday.


Last summer, 11 FVCC students traveled to Contagem, Brazil, to coach English as a part of US-Brazil Connect’s Conexão Mundo program. Now, the top Brazilian students from that program are being rewarded for their hard work with an all-expenses-paid trip to Denver and Kalispell.


The students will spend one week in Kalispell after already having spent a week visiting sites and schools outside Denver.


“Welcome to Montana! I am so happy to see you! I’ve missed you! These past months have been way too long” said FVCC microbiology student and US-Brazil Connect alumna Zoe Glasser-Breeding as she embraced Hernane Jose de Carvalho Junior and Davi Lucas Santos Vale, students from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.


The international collaborative program meets two pressing needs of U.S. community colleges: providing students with affordable opportunities for global leadership and increasing U.S. community colleges’ global exposure.


“US-Brazil Connect has provided amazing opportunities for our students,” said Jane Karas, FVCC president and American Association of Community Colleges past chair. “We are excited to continue this partnership by welcoming these Brazilian students to our campus and to beautiful Northwest Montana.”


One hundred nine Conexão Mundo students will travel to the United States over January and February. Those students represent the top 5 percent of 2,000 students who participated in the Conexão Mundo program in 2014. While most will visit Denver, three of US-Brazil Connect’s other community college partners will host students at Jackson College in Jackson, Mich., and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Each student has a packed sche­­­dule during their visit to Montana. Days are devoted to exploring Glacier National Park and shadowing local students. Nights are spent exploring Kalispell and enjoying American food with host families. But the students also are here on business, explains US-Brazil Connect President Mary Gershwin.


“The key to our model is that by connecting young people, we open both our Brazilian students and our U.S. fellows to career opportunities that can change their lives,” she says. “We fuel the Western Hemisphere’s two largest economies through creative partnership.”


For the students, that means they will devote much of their stay examining possibilities for future work. The Brazilians will meet with FVCC Career Center counselors and work hands-on with some of the technologies used in the school’s career and technical programs, such as a three-dimensional (3D) printer.


The focus on manufacturing is intentional. Each Brazilian student attends technical schools funded and operated by Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry (CNI.) As the main organization training Brazil’s future work force, CNI has become the largest secondary education institution in the Americas. Over 7 million students attend CNI’s school systems across Brazil for training in the applied sciences.


For industry leaders in Brazil, Conexão Mundo marks a recognition that in Brazil, as in the rest of the world, English language and international leadership skills are keys to success in a globalized economy.


The same logic explains US-Brazil Connect’s approach to educating community college students.


“Our goal isn’t just to prepare the teachers of tomorrow,” explains Gerda Reeb, director of international student services at FVCC. “Through this exchange program, we hope to push community college students beyond fear and American exceptionalism, so they can recognize opportunities for connecting across cultural boundaries.”