Letter from Brasília—What 100,000 New Scholarships Mean for Brazilian and U.S. Students

Last month, the President of Brazil announced that the Federal Government would provide an additional 100,000 scholarships for Brazilian undergraduates to participate in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, which enables them to study during their junior year in the United States and other countries. Currently over 80,000 students are participating in the program. The announcement means that by 2018, some 200,000 will have had the chance to learn another language and study and intern in relevant fields for the country’s employment needs.

Pictured here is a group that returned from UC Davis that attended the ceremony. Three participants have already graduated from their Brazilian university and are fully employed. The others are finishing up and will have no difficulty finding jobs or offers to do graduate studies in the United States.

All were concerned about how few Americans will have the chance to be a student in Brazil. I share that concern and noted that each participant served as an ambassador for Brazil while in California and at least enabled an American to sit next to a Brazilian in class and work with them in their labs. I also asked if any of their American classmates had visited them in Brazil now that they have returned.

“Sure, we welcome this,” one in the group spoke up. “I have already had ten classmates visit, and two are here now staying in my apartment.” Putting the timing with the World Cup together with the scarcity of hotel rooms, I wondered aloud if soccer was the reason for the relatively large number of visitors and house guests. “They can watch soccer anywhere on TV. My friends came to see Brazil and know how we are living.” And then the student made an observation that ought to cause us to think about what Generation Study Abroad is going to mean: “Visiting us because we were classmates is international education exchange, too.”