Danilo Furlani Audi Calobrizi, an accomplished graduate and now teacher at Algonquin College. Photo credit: Alyx Ewing

From international student to residence assistant to class valedictorian and now teacher: Danilo Furlani Audi Calobrizi, 29, from Bento Quirino, Brazil says he has had a wonderful experience in every aspect of his journey with Algonquin College. Furlani Audi Calobrizi graduated this spring from the Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) program at the Ottawa campus. He also teaches with the Ottawa Christian School.

Furlani Audi Calobrizi spent his fall term living on campus and decided to spend his winter term back home in Brazil, where he continued to learn and worked as a residence assistant for Algonquin College. While back home, he stayed in touch with students one-on-one remotely. After being encouraged to spend the summer on campus, he returned to work in the building and helps run events, such as the Open Mic nights.

In 2018, he taught history to teenagers in Brazil before deciding to change his career. He then enrolled in private courses to learn English before coming to Algonquin to learn how to be an educator for those seeking to learn English as a second language. As a teacher, Furlani Audi Calobrizi enjoys that he is able to help others learn to speak and read in English and be there for others. Through teaching, he says, he learned how to let go of selfishness and replace it with kindness and helpfulness.

“When I came here for the first time, it was so difficult to make new friends because it was COVID and all of the COVID restrictions were still in use,” said Furlani Audi Calobrizi. “When classes started, I had to take them from home in Brazil for one month. When my visa was approved, I came here and friend groups were already formed.” Becoming a residence assistant helped him get to know people. “I came to one event here, it was pumpkin carving, which I never had done in my whole life in Brazil, because we don’t have such huge pumpkins, and the Halloween culture isn’t as big. I saw everyone having fun. I went to another event, charcuterie board, which was amazing, and I was like, ‘I wanna become a RA.’”

Two weeks later, he attended an interview and was accepted in the position. As a residence assistant, Furlani Audi Calobrizi said he improved his social and English skills.

“Holding events and seeing a lot of people start developing friendships from the events, that was the most amazing part.”

Danilo Furlani Audi Calobrizi giving his speech as valedictorian.
Danilo Furlani Audi Calobrizi giving his speech as valedictorian in June, 2022.

Being a valedictorian was his biggest achievement this year and it meant a lot to him. When giving his speech, he wasn’t just able to speak to his peers, but also to honour his late grandfather, two of his friends, and his city in the last part of his speech. He believes that no matter where he is, he will always be from Bento Quirino.

“Everything I learned from teaching and the passion that I have for teaching, I owe to my grandfather. I remember him helping with my homework back home, and he was like a father figure. When I started teaching, it was a way to feel his presence. He spent his whole life teaching people, so to also be a teacher is a way to follow his path,” said Furlani Audi Calobrizi.

Today, Furlani Audi Calobrizi teaches one day a week in the morning and in the evening at Algonquin College, and another afternoon at the Ottawa Christian School. He plans on getting his full residency to stay in Canada to continue pursuing his career as a teacher. He hopes to become a full-time educator at Algonquin College, where he can continue to help his peers learn English and see friendships develop, regardless of cultures and religions.

When he isn’t teaching, Furlani Audi Calobrizi can be found writing music and performing on his guitar and his cavaco, a Brazilian instrument that is a smaller and higher-pitched version of the ukulele. Brazil has a big music industry, and Furlani Audi Calobrizi was able to get his foot in the door by performing at bars. Now, he performs on Instagram live feeds and has released music on Spotify.

Furlani Audo Calobrizi has seen how different Canada is to Brazil, and what it has to offer for everyone. Now, he starts a new journey as a graduate with a career in teaching while he works towards getting his full residency.