Monthly Archives: August 2012

Application Open for English Immersion Camp!

[Tradução em português abaixo]

C² is thrilled to announce our first English-immersion camp at the Ilha do Tesouro (Treasure Island) in Sobradinho, BA.  The camp will be a four-day event: participants will leave Petrolina at 11 am on Thursday, September 27th and return Sunday, September 30th.  There will be kayaking, zip lines, horse rides, beach time, campfires and lots more—all in English! 

The camp is part of an upcoming Petrolina International English Fair, to be held from the 29th of November to the 1st of December in the Convention Center in Petrolina (more details in future ensinapetrolina posts).

WHO CAN APPLY: University students and Petrolina community members of at least 16 years of age, who will commit to speaking only English during the camp and to volunteering at the Petrolina International English Fair at the end of November.

COST:  Only R$70 (all-inclusive price)

HOW TO APPLY: Fill out the English Immersion Camp Application, and send it to with a copy of your CPF and identification. Applications are due by Friday, September 7thselected participants will be informed of their selection Monday, September 10th, and payment will be due by Friday, September 14th.  There will be a mandatory question and answer session at the C² home on September 21st.

Also check out the Four-Day Camp Schedule of activities and the Four-Day Sample Menu.  Feel free to write with any questions or comments and spread the news to all your friends—we want MAXIMUM participation for this one-of-a-kind oportunity!

For pictures and information about the island, click here.  Looking forward to reading your applications!


C² – Chelsea e Cara – estamos super animadas anunciar nosso primeiro acampamento da língua inglesa na Ilha do Tesouro em Sobradinho, BA.  O acampamento acontecerá durante quatro dias; os participantes selecionados vão sair de Petrolina as 11:00 horas na 5ta-feira dia 27 de setembro e retornarão domingo dia 30 de setembro, 2012.  Entre ambos, as atividades incluirão tirolesa, carroça, praia, fogueira e caiaque—todo em Inglês!

O acampamento faz parte dum evento iminente – I Petrolina International English Fair – que será realizada de 29 de novembro a 1 de dezembro no Centro de Convenções em Petrolina (mais detalhes estarão em postos futuros do blog

QUEM PODE SE CANDIDATAR: Alunos das universidades e pessoas da comunidade que têm pelo menos 16 anos de idade, que vão comprometer falar somente inglês no acampamento, e que podem ser voluntários no evento Petrolina International English Fair no final de novembro.

CUSTO: Apenas 70 R (todo incluído)

COMO SE CANDIDATAR: Favor de preencher o English Immersion Camp Application e mandar para com uma cópia do seu CPF e sua identificação. Tem até 6ta-feira, dia 7 de setembro, para enviar os formulários preenchidos. Dia 10 de setembro os participantes selecionados serão informados, e terão que entregar os 70 R na 6ta, dia 14 de setembro.  Haverá uma reunião mandatório  para perguntas e respostas na casa da C² dia 21 de setembro. 

Também anexados são o rascunho do calendário dos eventos (Four-Day Camp Schedule) e o cardápio pelos quatro dias (Four-Day Sample Menu).  Escrevem-nos com qualquer pergunta ou duvida e divulga a informação para todos seus amigos—a gente quer a participação de TODO O MUNDO!

Para ver fotos da ilha, visitem o site.


We will accept 75 campers, and camp quotas are as follows:

10 spaces for IF- Sertão

10 spaces for UPE

10 spaces for UNIVASF

5 spaces for GRE

35 open/undefined spaces

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Coming Soon to Petrolina: TOEFL

It is with great joy I report that today I received the equipment necessary to administer the TOEFL (many thanks to the help of Michael Capelli and the folks at Educational Testing Services)!

I began the process of registering the IF-Sertão, Campus Petrolina as a TOEFL site upon return to Brazil in February.  Due to the unbelievable abundance of study-abroad scholarships such as Science Without Borders made possible by the Brazilian Federal Government, demand for the Test of English as a Foreign Language has sky rocketed.  The test, accepted by higher learning institutions in over 180 countries, measures students’ English-language abilities and is often the make-it-or-break-it factor in winning the aforementioned scholarships.  Unfortunately, earning a high score is far from the only barrier to taking the test and getting the grants.

If you look at the map, you will notice that Petrolina (the red dot in the sea of blue) is quite far from the coast, where nearly all of the major capital cities in the North East region of the country are.  This means that until now, not only did students have to pay the already prohibitive cost of  ~450 R (150-250 USD) just to register for the test, but they also had to pay for transportation to, and room and board in, expensive capital cities, the closest being 10 hours away (by bus).

Thus, one of my main goals for this year, in a two-pronged approach of 1-teaching English to students who don’t know English while 2-finding and facilitating the scholarship opportunities for those students who already have the language skills, was getting the TOEFL here to Petrolina, the hub of the NE interior.  Every barrier eliminated is one step closer to making our students’ dreams of becoming world citizens come true.

With the arrival of headsets, microphones and web-cams, we are only a short time away from holding our first test, which I hope to set for mid-December.  

Be on the lookout for upcoming posts for specifics about when to register!

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On Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 13 hrs, C² gave their first TOEFL course (Test of English as a Foreign Language) at the Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco (The San Francisco Valley Federal University- UNIVASF); Chels is at the campus in Petrolina (famous mostly for its medical school) and I am teaching in Juazeiro (the campus that will produce some of Brazil’s top engineers).  This is the first course we are offering for UNIVASF.  Our relationship with the University began when I met the Dean of Student Life, Lúcia Marisy, who is a feisty lady who likes to say that her mind is 30 years younger than she is.  In light of the 100,000 Science Without Borders scholarships, and the TOEFL test required in most cases to win them, I suggested we give a preparation course. Rather than receiving payment in the form of Reais (Real, the singular form of Reais, is the Brazilian currency, which is 2.022:1, R:USD at the time of writing), Chelsea and I are living in a University-owned mansion (here are some pics from our housewarming party – Chá de Casa in Portuguese) with the wonderful Dona Gilmar to help us cook and clean (pictured below).

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Non-Brazilians who are reading this post should note that any Federal University in Brazil is completely free and public (WHAT?!– Americans pay hundreds of thousands of USD to get their degrees…).  Traditionally these schools are the most competitive and prestigious, and UNIVASF is no exception.  Students must take entrance exams called the vestibular and more recently one called the ENEM, and receive top-marks to be admitted (and so students often pay for expensive private fundamental education to be able to study at the best free Universities… but that is a whole other post).  We are thrilled to be working with such dedicated and brilliant young minds, and it’s also nice to have a packed class (22-30 students), full of students who realize the importance of our course, which they are eager to take advantage of.  You can access the power-point from the first class using the scribd document embedded here:

Saturday was the first of two months’ worth of classes; classes that are the first step in our students’ exciting journeys to become world citizens.  Chelsea and I are ecstatic to be a part of this process!  See you next week 🙂

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Capoeira: What I Do When I’m Not Working

I showed up for my first capoeira class in Boston almost a year ago because I knew that the Mestre would teach in Portuguese and I wanted to practice my language skills. Looking back, it’s amazing how much I’ve fallen in love with a sport on which I accidentally stumbled (I saw the banner on the training center a few blocks from my house).

Chelsea and Cara all suited up!

My group is Grupo Capoeira Brasil – Mestre Cabeça, which miraculously has a large branch here in Petrolina–so I moved from training with Mestre in Boston to training with his students here in Brazil. I’ve been training since I arrived in March with Formando Carcará, a brown cord student of Mestre’s, with whom Cara has also started training. For the first time last week, because of Dia do Capoeirista (Capoeirista Day), we met a number of other capoeiristas from the same group who train with different professors.

It was a wonderful experience, and I realized while watching everyone play that I couldn’t do the sport justice only in writing. Accordingly, I’ve made a little film that incorporates footage from our “roda” (pronounced ho-da) during the event, as well as some history and personal thoughts about capoeira. The sport has exploded in popularity in the past few decades, especially internationally, but outside of capoeira circles, knowledge about the Brazilian martial art is lacking. Hopefully this video can help clarify what capoeira is all about.

If you’re hooked, here’s a simpler and longer video I made using almost all the footage from the roda:

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Second Semester Classes at UPE

I’m back from an eventful vacation: a trip with my parents to Rio de Janeiro, Florianopolis, and the Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra, a move from a one-room studio apartment to a three-bedroom, two-bath house in the center of Petrolina, and a whirlwind of course planning for my UPE classes and new TOEFL class at UNIVASF.

This semester, I’m changing my class offerings a bit. In addition to my TOEFL class and a for-credit course, “Literature & Cinema,” I’ll be teaching a number of extra classes: a class of English games, an hour-long discussion seminar, a professor conversation class, and Arts in the Americas workshops (theater, dance, sports) about once or twice a month. Movie nights for my Lit & Cinema class will be open to whomever is interested, too. The English Chorus will continue from last semester. You can read all about the updates here, on the UPE English Course blog.

Here’s the calendar! All classes will occur at UPE in the English classrooms, with the exception of the movie nights, which are at our house here in the Centro. Email me at for the address!

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