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).
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 🙂