Category Archives: Abroad Opportunities

New Language Center at the Instituto Federal

Panel of speakers from left to right: Artidonio Araujo Filho, Leopoldina Veras, Sebastião Hildo Diniz, Cara Snyder, and Jeziel Junior da Cruz.

Thursday, March 29 was an exciting day at the IF Industrial campus in Petrolina: the official inauguration of a new Global Culture and Language Center (GCLC) dedicated to supporting English language learning for students at the IF. Students, professors and administrators packed the room to listen to impassioned speeches by the school’s General Director Sebastião Hildo Diniz, Industrial campus director Artidonio Araujo Filho, director of education Leopoldina Veras, international relations coordinator Jeziel Junior da Cruz, Professor of Information Technology and mastermind of the Global Language and Culture English Program Alexandre Correia, and English professor and “official inspirer” Cara Snyder.

Alexandre Correia spoke to a full classroom at the inauguration.

I wish I could convey through this post the energy present in the room while listening to that panel of speakers. It’s overwhelming the increase in initiative and energy that people here have to support English learning and the rising importance (stimulated in large part by Government efforts) they place on studying abroad. Cara has said that the comparison from last year to this one is striking—people seem to finally be waking up to the reality that globalization is unavoidable even in a region that was formerly thought to be insular and isolated, and they are correndo atrás—an often used Brazilian saying that means working hard to achieve something—to take part. For a deep-rooted cultural change to take place so palpitably in such a short time span (Cara has been here for a little over a year) shows another unique Brazilian strength: extreme flexibility in finding ways to get things done, aka the jeitinho brasileiro.

Me, getting excited about some of the new resource books for the GCLC!

As we have said in previous posts, English skills are for many students the singular obstacle to studying abroad, and the GCLC is a tangible step towards overcoming that obstacle.

Perhaps most importantly, the Center is a physical space at the school dedicated to English language learning. Having this space gives a sense of permanency and legitimacy to the school’s mission to teach its students English, and the Center will be a nexus for students eager to find a way to study abroad in English-speaking countries.

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Amazon Fruit Company and IF-Sertão

One of the main attraction points of the IF is an 18 month internship with Amazon Fruit Company, based out of New Jersey.  The program, which began three years ago, selects students from the Agricultural departments of the 5 IF-Sertão Campi to work in the New Jersey packing house, all expenses paid. While the Brazilian government is giving out scholarships to go abroad  like crazy, to get these scholarships you must pass the TOEFL test, which is no easy feat and requires a minimum of two years of intensive language study according to Professora Rafaela Carla of the IF Zona Rural.  Therefore, as the IF starts to build a foundation and prepare students for competitive scholarships, for the time being the principle opportunity to go abroad is the Amazon internship.

At the Meeting, Pictured From Left: General Director Sebastião Hildo, Cara Snyder, Gelide Mello, Gilmar Mello, Chelsea Waite, Jeziel Junior, Gilson Dantes and Bruno Guivares

When I was back in the States in December, I had the opportunity to visit the Amazon packing house where two of my former students live and work (they left for the US two months after I arrived in Brazil). This visit made it clear to me that since this is still a relatively new program, and very little oversight, there are many improvements to be made.  For instance, the program currently selects only male students from the IF Campi, and women who meet the specified qualifications need to be given an equal chance. In addition, since the students live with each other and work primarily with Spanish speakers, they return to Brazil after 18 months in the US speaking little to no English.  These are two of a number of problems that must be fixed.

It became clear to me that negotiations were necessary to change these aspects of the program. To begin the process, the IF held a meeting on Wednesday, March 28, with the participation of me, Chelsea, Jeziel Junior, Gleide Mello, vice-president of the college, Sebastião Hildo Diniz, the General Director of the 5 campuses, and Gilmar Melo, one of 4 CEOs from Amazon Fruit Company.  Several topics were covered, including how to incorporate women into the project and how to ensure English-language learning takes place.  During their visit Gilmar, along with partner Greg Golden, whom I met informally, seem to genuinely want to improve the internship.  Here at the IF-Sertão, we will be anxiously awaiting the materialized results.

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 ( 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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