Monthly Archives: March 2012

English Language Programming at UPE – Campus Petrolina

For the last few weeks, I’ve started my work at UPE by assisting the English professors in their classrooms and getting to know the students here. Now I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be launching some regular events and workshops for students, to be scheduled outside of class time.

American Club will happen every Wednesday at 6:00 pm. This is a fun and informal way to practice English and learn about American culture, from baseball and chocolate chip cookies to slang and popular party games.

Conversation Sections will happen two or three times a month, at 6:00 pm on different days of the week (check the calendar every month). Classes will be limited to the first 20 students who arrive, and will focus on speaking skills for all levels.

The Writing Center will also be open two or three times a month at 6:00 pm (check the calendar). Students can bring their writing to be reviewed by me and their peers.

The Writing Center will also help to serve another purpose: to inspire students to create productions in English for a student literature review. The publication will include poetry, short stories, articles, comics, drawings, and any other related material produced in English or about English-language culture.

Unless otherwise noted, all events will happen in the UPE English classroom next to the Oficina Literária, facing the courtyard.

Check the calendar for specific dates! (Programming begins in April.)

Classes are primarily for English students at UPE, but if you are from another institution and are interested in these opportunities, please get in touch with me and we’ll figure out a solution!

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Congratulations Euclides!

After lots of hard one-on-one work, especially on the writing section, of the TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) I am proud to announce that the results have arrived!  Euclides  Francisco, student of Oenology and Viticulture at the IF-Sertão, Campus Zona Rural, has scored high marks on the TOEFL test, qualifying him for international scholarships such as Ciência Sem Fronteiras (now accepting applications-click here) and Fulbright (click here to explore one Fulbright Scholarship possibility for Brazilians) .

Euclides Francisco, student of Oenology and Viticulture at the IF-Sertão, Campus Zona Rural, ran to my room to show me his fantastic scores, which arrived today. Congratulations Euclides, I'm so proud of you!

I had the pleasure of  working with Euclides to prepare for the test, which he had two weeks to study for and took on Friday, February 9 in Recife.  He plans on using the scores to apply for programs in Canada and the USA.   He is the first of hopefully many to score high enough to compete for International Scholarships.  I look forward to the next post announcing his placement abroad!

Interested in studying abroad?  Taking the TOEFL is often the first and most necessary step for almost every scholarship and abroad opportunity.  For TOEFL dates and locations click here.  Also, together with the fantastic Rafaela Carla, English Professor at the Zona Rural, we will soon be administering the TOEFL test here in Petrolina at the IF Rural Campus.

Stay tuned– I will be offering a preparatory TOEFL course this year for intermediate and advanced English speakers.  I hope to have you in my course!

As always, feel free to drop me an e-mail (cara.k.snyder@gmail.com or cara.snyder@ifsertao) with questions, comments, or if you are a student looking to take the TOEFL or study abroad!

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Inauguration of the Global Culture and Language Center– THIS THURSDAY AT 17 HRS

Come one, come all to the Inauguration of the Global Culture and Language Center, this Thursday, March 29 at 17 hrs in the new Language Center– H27– at the Petrolina Industrial Campus! I look forward to seeing you all there.

Pictued here with several of my students (from both IF and UPE) from my English Writing Course-- IF Sertão Petrolina Believes-- in our new Language Center at the Petrolina Industrial Campus.

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Brazil– Where Leisure Time is Productive

 One of the first things I learned in Brazil is that as a Fulbright Scholar and an American, my job is to represent not only myself, but also my country, my language, and my people.  As such, in everything we do, Chelsea and I are always working.  We travel, we work; we dance, we work; we go to the bank, we work; we eat, we work; and so on.  We have “official” teaching jobs here, which often do require a lot of work in the traditional sense, but we also spend a good amount of time doing, as some might say in the US, “nothing.”  While at first this bothered us, we have come to understand that even our leisure time here can be productive.

In Curaça, from left to right- Me, Tony, Tio, Maick and Chelsea

This weekend we were invited to the home of Maick Menezes, one of my students (and top Rugby players), who is going to live and labor for the next 18 months in New Jersey for a US-Brazilan import-export mango company.  Hopping on a bus headed to Curaça, in the state of Bahia the only directions we had were “Maick´s house,” and so we got slightly lost.  But all along the way people stopped to talk to us, ask where we were from and what our country is like, and then help us find our destination.  We get lost, we are working.

We backtracked to Irrigation Project 1 Curaça, where we were met by Maick´s cousin, Tom Tõem (Tony).  En route to the Project, traveling the best way to travel (three deep on the back of a motorcycle), we stopped for sweet agua de coco and to take pictures with a group of gentleman admirers who had never met Americans.  We drink coconut water, we are working.

Fresh green delicious cocos!

We were the last to arrive at Maick´s house, where we were met by 20 more of my students from the IF-Sertão Pernambucano. We drank our cerveja bem gelada,  really cold beer (in Brazil the quality of beer is measured by how cold it is—the colder the better), and everyone sat around saying all the words in English they knew.  We drink beer; we are working.

The project had a party that evening, with some 300 people from the surrounding areas of the interior of Bahia (the state where Curaça is located).  We danced forró  and pagodão, and represented our country.  We party, we are working.

Here in Brasil, our lesiure time is productive.

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Friendship and Hospitality, Brazilian Style

I had spent barely a day in Petrolina before Cara knocked on my door bright and early to whisk me away on a weekend trip to Pilar, Bahia, where we’d been invited to stay for the weekend. Pilar is the hometown of Ana Paula, the viticulture professor at the Instituto Federal – Zona Rural. As I said, I had quite literally just arrived in Petrolina. I barely knew Cara, let alone Ana Paula, let alone her entire family. Yet, as I was learning very quickly in Brazil, these things mattered very little.

We arrived in Pilar, a heat-baked small town laid out grid-fashion in the Bahian Sertão, just in time for lunch. Ana Paula’s mother gave me a couple kisses and hugs and handed me a plate, barely acknowledging that I still fumbled with fluency in Portuguese greetings. Bahian cooking is a miracle in transforming bland base ingredients into delicious and sustaining meals—beans, rice, and manioc flour (farofa) mutate into feijoada and pirão and vatapa.

Our first meal in Pilar: bode (goat) and pirão.

Something in Pilar made that verbal expression of hospitality, “make yourself at home,” which Brazilians translate into fica a vontade (do as you please), a reality. After initial greetings, the formalities that often remain when visiting the home of a friend—especially an aquaintance—disappeared. Rather than a polite investigation of my career goals or current occupation, dinner conversation was a banter about this and that as if we were all old friends. Writing teachers often advise us to “show rather than tell,” and just the same way, in Pilar I felt that the family got to know me through experiencing my presence rather than asking me to explain it.

We spent Sunday enjoying a "churrasco" (barbecue) with the family.

That first night, Cara and Ana Paula—the two people who were my closest links to the family—went to bed early. Our friend Rafaela and I were still awake, and Ana Paula’s brother asked us if we’d like to go out on the main street with him and two of the younger kids in the family. The lovely evening we spent chatting together amongst the other Pilar inhabitants showed me something that has been proven again and again during my time here so far: in the Northeast of Brazil, hospitality comes first, and details come later.

These kinds of encounters happen relatively frequently, and I think the reason why it still catches me off guard is because I am accustomed to such unreserved hospitality being something generally reserved for friends. Here, the order is almost reversed: hospitality is what invites the possibility for friendship.

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Welcome (Bem-Vindo!) to C²

Ensina Petrolina is the first and only (at least for now) English language blog in Petrolina, Pernambuco, Brasil. Its authors are Chelsea Waite and Cara Snyder (C², of course!), two Fulbright scholars who are dedicated to teaching English and cultural exchange as a part of internationalizing the community. Welcome—sejam bem-vindos—to English teachers and students, nordestinos, friends and family, other Fulbrighters, interested Americans, and all others!

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