Four English teachers from Brazil just finished a two-week stay at Culver Academies as part of a cultural exchange program sponsored by Culver and the Bradesco Foundation. This past summer, four Culver teachers spent two weeks visiting schools in Brazil as part of the faculty exchange program.
The Bradesco Foundation is one of Latin America’s largest foundations. The chairwoman is Denise Aguiar, the granddaughter of Amador Aguiar, founder of the Bradesco Bank in Brazil. Aguiar became familiar with Culver through a meeting with International Advancement’s Tony Giradi ’75 and Karla Hernandez approximately 10 years ago.
Over the past decade, the foundation and Culver have established a scholarship program allowing two students from Brazil to attend Summer Schools & Camps. This is the first year for the faculty visits.
Culver World Languages and Cultures instructors Cory Barnes and Jessica Harding, Mathematics instructor Annette Hildebrandt and Ithaka dorm counselor Jai Hayes ’02 made the trip to Sao Paulo this past summer.
Visiting Culver were Priscila Costa, Adelia Alexandria, Telma Aquiar, and Frank Rabelo. They were on their summer break, with teachers just returning to their classes in mid-January. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, but students begin learning English as early as eight to nine years old. Costa and Rabelo teach at the elementary level and Alexandria and Aquiar in high school.
The Bradesco Foundation exchange program is designed to enrich instructors from both Culver Academies and schools throughout Brazil. The exchange of teaching methods and philosophies give them insight into how education is viewed in different cultures.
The goal is similar to having students from Brazil attend Culver Summer Schools & Camps, Hernandez said. Students will take back what they have learned and pass it along to others.
Flying out of Sao Paulo, they took a 10-hour, non-stop flight to O’Hare Airport in Chicago. And they arrived in Culver just as the temperatures took a dip, hitting in the single-digits at night for the first time this winter.
“We have never been so cold,” Costa said. The coldest temperature she was ever experienced was 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Costa and Aquiar had never seen snow before.
But the weather didn’t hamper their trip. They visited classrooms, talked with students, and met faculty members. They were struck by the beauty of the Culver campus, and amazed at the small number of students in each class.
“The students are so engaged in the academic life,” added Aquiar. “They are so communicative.”
Rabelo, who teaches at a school in the state of Amazonas, brought the Brazilian Rain Forest culture with him. He performed a traditional dance that is part of the river region’s mythology during Culver’s Diversity Day program.
The teachers also attended the Culver-Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep hockey game and the CMA basketball game against Mishawaka Marian, which Culver won in overtime. And they spent one day in Chicago.
The friendliness of everyone they met was a pleasant surprise, they added. The first question everyone asked them was “Are you warm enough?”