Tag Archives: IF

Celebrating the Transformative Power of Women’s Athletics– Rugby and Feminism at IF-Petrolina’s Zona Rural

International women’s day is a day to ruminate what it means to be a woman.  It is a day to critically reflect upon the current status of women around the world, but also a day to celebrate all that women are.  We are mother’s, sisters, doctors, lawyers, lovers, fighters and everything else in the whole spectrum of being present in today’s world.

We are also athletes, and I believe in the transformative power of women’s athletics.  Nothing affirmed this belief like the women’s rugby team at the Zona Rural where I lived and worked last year.  I would like to dedicate this post to the deepest feminist experience I had in Brazil – my women’s rugby team.

Below is a news report on the sport and our teams (my very first TV appearance here in Petrolina) and also the text (translated from Portuguese to English) from a poster I’ve presented in two national conferences about rugby and feminism.

Happy International Women’s Day– now get out and play.

Women’s Rugby and Feminism:  Four Feminist Theories at Work, Combating Oppression at the Federal Institute in Petrolina’s Rural Zone

The women’s rugby team commenced at the Zona Rural in March 2011 (the same time as the male team) and has been vibrantly active since, competing twice since its inception and practicing weekly.  Due to the high level of contact and aggressive nature of the sport, women’s rugby provides for a fascinating intersection of feminism and athletics.  Using the four main feminist theories described by Professor Elizabeth Hackett of Agnes Scott College, this section details how Rugby Feminino at the Zona Rural illustrates women´s liberation and empowerment in action.

Humanist (Same theory)

The female team is humanist in the sense that there is woman’s team, just as there is a men’s team, with the same resources, practice time, balls, competitions, etc.  The equality between the two teams is empowering as it shows that the women’s team, and its young female players, are as equally important as the men’s team.  They are equally as strong, skilled, athletic and able.

Gynocentric (Difference Theory)

It is important that there is a women’s rugby team separate from the male team.  As rugby is a sport involving high levels of physical contact and tackling, the differences of height and weight between men and women require that they compete separately.  In accordance with the gynocentric approach, the female team at the Zona Rural values women’s athletic contributions while affirming separate but equal athletic qualities between men and women. 

Radical

Besides occasional male coaching or refereeing, the women’s rugby team at the Zona Rural is matriarchal.  With the exception of minor guidance, the Women’s team is largely self-administered:  warm-up, stretching, practices and practice matches are largely self-run, providing invaluable leadership opportunities and offering an alternate, radical model to the patriarchal society at large.    

Moreover, rugby involves tackling, scrums and overall physical intensity that are not gender stereotypical. 

Neo-Classical

What words or images come to mind when you think of rugby? And what words or images come to mind when you think of women? Most likely, for rugby you thought of the words and images associated with “violent, bruising, intense, strong, sweat, hard-core, etc.” For female maybe you thought of “delicate, sweet, beautiful, gentle, pink, etc.” and the images associated with those words. Thus Rugby is also a classic example of neo-classical feminist thought, the mere fact of women playing rugby completely defies these stereotypical images.

A major outcome of this apparent conflict is that on an individual level, the female players learn that they are in control of how they want to be defined. They are the masters of their identity and nobody can tell them what they are. They are empowered by learning that to be a woman, to be who they are, means what they want it to mean. In a society that is constantly telling women that they are weak and sensitive, they are actively proving that, as women, they are strong, courageous, powerful, athletic and capable. The women’s rugby team is breaking gender stereotypes on campus and in the community of Petrolina, playing in inter-campus games, appearing on local news Channel 4 and now internationally to those reading these words!

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Student Projects from Petrolina´s First English Immersion Camp

We waited to show our student´s creative and brilliant projects from the English Immersion Camp held back in October until the closing night of the Petrolina International English Fair.  Now that these films have been shown in Petrolina, they are ready for their international debut via ensinapetrolina.com.

The first are a compilation of songs:

And the second is a selection of skits about why English is important:

If we didn’t include your piece, it’s only because the sound was bad– all of your projects were amazing and we would have loved to share all of them.  Next time we will be sure to secure a less-windy location.

C² hopes you enjoyed watching as much as we enjoyed making!

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Upcoming TOEFL Tests in Petrolina

Please see the following dates and times for the upcoming TOEFL tests:

12-Jan-2013 09:00
18-Jan-2013 12:00
02-Feb-2013 09:00
15-Feb-2013 12:00
02-Mar-2013 09:00
08-Mar-2013 12:00

All seats were used during our last two TOEFL tests– so sign up ASAP by going to ets.org and registering.

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PIEF Thank Yous

Parabens to all who participated in Petrolina’s First International English Fair! Although there is a still lot of work to be done, the fair itself ended with a wonderful evening of music and presentations at the public amphitheater in the city center on Saturday, December 1, 2012.

The first of many posts about our event must be dedicated to thanking all the people who helped and collaborated.  Without everyone listed (and probably others who are not listed) this event would not have been possible.

Consul, Usha Pitts (center in black jacket) and participants after the opening ceremonies

Consul, Usha Pitts (center in black jacket) and participants after the opening ceremonies

Fabio Marcelino: Volunteer number 1 who did all of our design work for FREE–from making our logo, to designing the program, and crafting the posters from large to small.  We even had a billboard for the event!  All thanks to the fabulous Fabio.

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All of our event volunteers who worked 12 hours over 3 days, helping with everything from picking up trash to managing the stage and to our volunteer MC who opened the fair with grace and style—Karina.

Surprise Superstars – Eliane from the GRE and Ana Maria from UPE who worked thanklessly behind the scenes.  Eliana organized all the transportation, making sure students arrived, providing snacks for the teacher’s workshop and ensuring a lovely space at the GRE for our cocktail event on Thursday night.  Ana Maria created the two most beautiful stands– one with a chocolate fountain and the other with a Gothic themed tea party, complete with costumed students– representing UPE, the only University in Petrolina responsible for forming English Teachers!

Francisco: He built all the stands from scratch and made all three of our event locations aesthetically pleasing with just colored fabric and a lot of creativity.

English fellows: Avram Blum, Laura M.—our inspirational/informational lecturers with a special thanks to Laura for whipping together at the last-minute a games section.  Thanks to Scott for helping with the consulate stand!

Maria Snarski, Regional Language Officer for Brazil, with students trying, for the first time - the free English Language learning video game "Trace Effects" sponsored by the US State Department.

Maria Snarski, Regional Language Officer for Brazil, with students trying, for the first time – the free English Language learning video game “Trace Effects” sponsored by the US State Department.

American consulate in Recife and their fleet of Americans: Special shout out to Heidi for all her work and mentoring leading up to the event, the informative palestras, and the heartfelt speech during the round table and for all the time and energy at the consulate stand.  Heidi continues to be not only an inspiration for aspiring young women such as Chelsea and me, but also a good friend.  Thank you for everything, Heidi.   Maria, Brazil’s Regional Language Officer for honoring our fair to be the inaugural event of the Consulate’s Language-Learning computer game, Trace Effects and for her workshop on Saturday, which many said was the highlight of the event for them.  And finally to Usha Pitts, Consul for the North-Northeast who used the fair to visit Petrolina for the first time, opened the fair with a charming and sincere speech and interacted openly and with humility to all participants.  Usha never ceases to impress all who cross her path, and we thank you for bringing grace and prestige to our event.

The GR TV, the radio shows (especially the dynamic Genival Ferreira) that helped get the word out about our event.

Thanks to the following institutions for their contributions: GRE – space for the cocktail, teachers workshop, print material, student presence and buses; IFSertão – buses, print materials and 3/5 of organizational committee, and the flooring performance at the opening ceremonies by the Symphony of the Sertão; UPE  – even when they cannot contribute with resources, they over compensated with talent- wonderful stands and 100% participation; UNIVASF -even though we would have liked more physical participation we thank them for being unafraid to put their name and we are grateful for Lucia Marisy´s faith and confidence in our abilities; SENAI – complete use of space and Lucienne and Paulo—two great helpers; and finally Gilmar Mello and Amazon Produce – for being a leader in corporate responsibility in the region, sponsoring the cocktail, graciously showing the diplomatic team around Petrolina and the genuine speech at the opening ceremony.

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Laraine: for her vision of a culminating event, the delicious meals to ease the pressure of meetings, the results she produced despite communication difficulties and most especially for her dedication to the teachers from the public schools, who made the event what it was… which brings us to…

Teachers:  Your projects and your presentations floored us.  We recognize that you do not do it for the money, but for the love of your students.  That love shone through the marvelous work you shared with Petrolina during the fair.

Students from 1- public schools: from far and wide came to post their work on imported science fair boards and present songs, dances, plays, etc. My most sincere thanks go to the students and their teachers from Cabrobo, who traveled 4 hours from the island where their indigenous tribe live to present work about their tribe (in English) and present a song a dance representing their tribe at the fair.  2- the universities: who made up our volunteers and enriched our lecture halls.  We hope that you were inspired—you certainly inspired us.

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PE Professors Filipe and Barto: They helped run the rugby workshops on Saturday morning.

Rafaela: MC for the closing ceremonies, writer of all eloquent Portuguese, mounter of the IF stand and contact with the private schools and institutions.

Finally – the most important person to C² – Jeziel.  Thank you for your dream, for your tireless and too often thankless efforts, for caring for us as people and treating us like family.  You inspire and push us everyday.

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From left to right – Heidi Arola, Jeziel Junior and Rafaela Carla

THANK YOU!

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Breaking News: PIEF Countown, 24 days!

C² is thrilled to announce our big hurrah for the end of this year:

the Petrolina International English Fair (PIEF)!

The event is the first of its kind in Petrolina: think science fair (with English instead of science), academic congress, and cultural festival all tied into one. The Fair has two main goals: to showcase the work of English students in Petrolina, particularly from the public high schools and universities, and to demonstrate the importance of English as an international language in an increasingly globalized world.

The Fair will take place November 29-December 1, 2012. For two full days, there will be lectures and free English mini-courses during the day, framed by a science-fair style demonstration of students’ English creations and a stage to show their performances. At night, we’ll have invited guest speakers and round-table discussions on how to improve English teaching and broaden access to English classes. Finally, Saturday will feature sports events and a teacher training workshop, and a big arts and culture festival in the amphitheater at the city’s center. (Check out our full program.)

It’s amazing to think back at where we were when we started this blog, and where we are now–collaborating with other visionary English teachers and local educational leaders to realize an event that highlights a crucial key to Petrolina’s future. The blog itself shows some of this change; we’ve moved to an official .com domain and we’ve temporarily rearranged the organization of the site to be the Fair’s online home base.

I don’t think we’ve linked this video before, but we use it all the time in class. Jay Walker’s brief TED Talk on English Mania succinctly and powerfully describes the drive for the world to learn English–and it isn’t because of hamburgers and Hollywood. We’re proud to be taking part in helping our students achieve their highest potential.

Thanks to the PIEF sponsors below: particularly the U.S. Consulate in Recife, the State of Pernambuco Secretariat of Education, the Petrolina Prefeitura, and UNIVASF for their support and resources.

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An English Immersion Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a group of daring young students set out to master a foreign tongue on a magical island.

They departed from the kingdom of Petrolina, traveling merrily over land until arriving at the massive hydroelectric dam of Sobradinho, where the noble Noah boat awaited them.

Disembarking from their trusty transport, the travelers received their first surprise: a magic amulet, called a “rubber band,” which forbade the wearer from speaking his or her native tongue. Immersion in the foreign tongue, the most used language in all the world—English—had begun!

Armed with their challenge, the valiant voyagers boarded the Noah, where there was much merrymaking and singing.

By the time the sun was two hours lower in the sky, the boat full of adventurers scraped the sands of Treasure Island (Ilha do Tesouro in the local language). And there were treasures aplenty, just waiting to be discovered.

After settling in their cabins, appetites were worked up over tournaments of tetherball, volleyball and soccer until the first of many great feasts.

Bellies filled with American fare, the campers tackled group tasks for a great festival in their kingdom, whose goal is to share English with all the dwellers of the land (the Petrolina International English Fair).

Later, leaders helped the students climb new heights; daring was unburied from deep within.

As the weary travelers trooped back to their cabins, the first glimmers of all the riches to be had were fresh in their minds.

With the rising of the sun, the campers set off on a quest to explore the island.

Not only did they discover a beach full of gleaming crystals…

…but they also uncovered their own bravery and strength, hiking up mountains…

…jumping off cliffs and climbing up steep rocks.

Over the next few days, uncountable treasures were discovered. Participants explored the island as they explored their own daring, testing their abilities at kayaking, archery, zip lines, swimming, horseback riding and more—all while communicating in the strange sounds of English.

 

The linguistic conquerors showed their mastery of the foreign tongue by creating songs, dramatic works and dances (to be shown to all the townspeople during the great PIEF festival).

They even fell in love with the adventure of tasting strange new foods such as marshmellows and peanut butter!

Around a blazing fire on the beach during the last night, the adventurers bid their adieus over sweet melodious campfire songs and sweeter s’mores.

Merrymaking continued until the parting of ways, a day’s journey later. Just as diamonds are indestructible, the richness of getting to know new worlds and all that they entail (friendship, understanding, and a new language) will be forever with all those adventurous enough to take part in the First English Immersion Camp in the North-East Interior at Treasure Island!

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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 escreveconversaingles@gmail.com 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!

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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 ensinapetrolina.wordpress.com)

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 escreveconversaingles@gmail.com 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.

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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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IF on Strike, Classes on Pause

“Workers of the Rural Campus ON STRIKE”

The space was packed. Monday, July 23, 2012 the Instituto Federal, Campus Petrolina was full of boisterous cheering, loud clapping, passionate outbursts. Sporting event? Evangelical retreat? No and no. But the experience was equally as thrilling–I was taking part in my first worker’s strike. After all 38 IF campuses in Brasil entered on strike or greve, mine finally voted unanimously (all those who were present) to join.  We were the last campus to enter.

One of the things I respect most about Latin America its affinity to strike- individuals sacrificing for the greater good.  All of my experiences in South America have been shaped by unions of workers or students in protest.  Even having been historically ruled by brutal and violent dictatorships, people here rebel against their government, and not by bitching about it but by getting together and actually doing something about it. It is exhilarating to see the country stopped by Professors and administrators, supported by their students, fighting for a salary that matches the dignity of their profession (among other demands). We in the USA could learn a lot about the art of protest and unity from our Southern neighbors’ strikes.

Join the Conversation… the conversation course, that is!
Every Monday and Wednesday from 10-11 or 13-14.
Basic knowledge of English recommended. The more the merrier!

Although my and Chelsea’s TOEFL courses will continue as normal though the UNIVASF, ALL COURSES AT THE IF, CAMPUS PETROLINA AND ZONA RURAL WILL BE SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Please stay tuned for updates on when classes will restart. I look forward to seeing the smiling faces of my dear students when we return!

Students from Basic English Conversation Course I

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Cara’s Calender of Courses

I know what you’re thinking – what amazing alliteration.  You know, sometimes you have to say something, and it all happens to start with the same letter and that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

And with that, here is the calender of courses (and other activities) for this semester.  I will be updating it as situations arise (cancellations, adjustments, etc.).  So subscribe to the calendar or to this blog to stay informed.

Please note that Intermediate English (formerly Advanced English) will begin this Monday, July 16 at 16:00 at the IF-Sertão, Petrolina Campus.

Also note that Chelsea and I will begin the first phase of our TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) course on July 21st.  Students interested should register with UNIVASF and begin studying for the entrance exam, which will be a simulated TOEFL test.

This week is the second week of English Conversation.  Week one was FANTASTIC (thanks to all who are coming to participate).  Also many thanks to Grande Rio TV for interviewing me live to talk about the course!  I’m trying to get a hold of the footage to post… stay tuned.  To those of you who have not yet come– COME!  Class is either from 11:00-12:00 or 13:00-14:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays at the IF-Sertão, Petrolina Campus.  We have fun, play games, chat and so much more all in an hours time.  The class is open to all, and the more the merrier!

As always, feel free to write with any questions or comments.

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