International Educator - March/April 2013 - 27
COURTESY OF PREMA ARASU
of the summit visit of Brazilian President Rousseff.
The signing capped a campaign that included a visit
to Brazil by Arasu and WSU Honors College Assistant
Dean Jessica Cassleman to meet with potential partner
campuses, learn about Brazilian higher education and
establish student internships and exchange programs.
The delegation went to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro,
Brasilia, Campinas, and Piracicaba to meet with faculty,
students, and officials from public and private institutions, the Fulbright Commisson, CAPES, and CNPq.
Among other activities, the WSU representatives
engaged in several high-level policy events, including a U.S.-Brazil Partnership roundtable in Sao Paulo.
Discussion on the challenges and opportunities for
expanding U.S.-Brazil educational relations featured
Arasu, Jeffrey Peck from CUNY’s Baruch College,
and representatives from the Pontifícia Universidade
Católica de São Paulo and another Brazilian institution.
Improving Language Scenario
WSU also is preparing to send some of its undergraduate students to Brazil and is addressing the
Portuguese language barrier as part of that. A large
number of WSU students studied Spanish in high
school or study it now at WSU, and “the neat thing is
that while Portuguese is a different language, having
them fluent in Spanish has made it easier” to relate
the two, Arasu says. She suggests that WSU students
could go to Brazil with a Spanish background and a
minimum of two weeks of intensive training in Portugese so they could at least “start to communicate
and wouldn’t be completely dependent on having an
English-speaking counterpart on the other end.”
Other U.S. universities are taking different approaches to the language issue. At the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has maintained
an active student exchange with Brazilian institutions
for four years, a “strong Portuguese contingent” of
faculty in the Romance Language Department teach
the language, and Illinois students who go to Brazil as
part of a research consortia must take three semesters
of it, reports K. Peter Kuchinke, associate professor
and director of graduate programs in the Department
of Human Resource Education.
study abroad in Brazil.
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