Discussions with the Brazilian Consulate of Houston's Consul General, hosted by Rice global education leadership, concerning expanding cooperation.
Brasil@Rice: A Corner/"Cantinho" of Brazil
Students on Rice University’s campus refer to it as “nosso cantinho do Brasil” (“our corner of Brazil”), and the Brasil@Rice: A Corner/Cantinho of Brazil Initiative serves as a hub of meaningful connections between Brazil and the campus as well as the greater Houston community. Since its founding in 2012, Brasil@Rice has worked closely with research universities, government offices and local arts and business organizations in Brazil to promote exchanges and partnerships and develop a “Brazilian-style” identity in the Rice community.
Brasil@Rice has created a travel grant program to support faculty traveling to Brazil — and bringing Brazilian faculty collaborators to Rice — in order to develop relationships that make effective academic collaboration possible. Brasil@Rice has also supported long-term partnerships to conduct cancer research between Rice and cancer hospitals, water treatment projects, high-power computing, graphene research and many others in social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and engineering. Many of these projects also draw upon multiple departments on Rice’s campus, giving Brasil@Rice the opportunity to promote interdisciplinary approaches and internationalization simultaneously.
When Brasil@Rice was founded, it drew on the increased interest in study in the United States from Brazilian students that was promoted by the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP), a Brazilian government scholarship program for international exchanges. Rice also benefitted from the International Academic Partnerships Program that highlighted how to build relationships with Brazilian institutions. Several BSMP students who came to Rice through the program have returned as doctoral students or researchers and the numbers of Brazilian students who have chosen to study at Rice and scholars who have chosen to work there have grown sharply after Rice began to invest in these partnerships. These students and scholars lead cultural, athletic and academic activities that benefit the entire campus community.
In its work building a little corner of Brazil on campus, Brasil@Rice is aided by its close relationship with the Brazilian consulate in Houston. A Brazil mobility summit, Brazilian-U.S. educational fair, Brazilian film festival and local Brazilian business meetings are but a few examples of some of the work that has brought Brazil to Houston through the Brasil@Rice program. Brazil’s Deputy Consul General in Houston, Felipe Costi Santarosa agrees: “It is very clear that Rice has a solid commitment to Brazil-U.S. collaboration on many activities throughout the years.”
Other cultural dimensions of the Cantinho include sponsoring a yearly Brazilian Independence Day celebration, hosting Cafezhino e Bate-Papo (Coffee Break Mixers) and language exchanges and collaborating on other cultural events that benefit both the campus community and their neighbors in Houston. Their “Brazil Brief” meetings keep the community up-to-date on academic activities, cultural events, and available resources for students and scholars. They even participate in a World Mini-Soccer Cup on campus during International Education Week.
Rice has also underscored the success of the Brasil@Rice initiative by adapting it for other internationalization programs. Rice enjoys a productive dual-degree program with UNICAMP, Rice’s Costa Rica Interest Group has identified the Brasil@Rice’s partnership model as a paradigm and Brasil@Rice’s faculty travel grant program has promoted active faculty and research partnerships across campus and disciplines. Brasil@Rice attributes its success to a “personal” touch approach that sets it apart, creating new models for advancing research and building bridges from Houston to Brazil.