By Anthony Joseph
Science without Borders brings Brazilian students to Algonquin
For the first time since its inception in 2011, the Science without Borders program has found its way to Algonquin. This semester, the college will welcome 11 upper-year students from a number of institutions across Brazil who are looking to advance their studies in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Funded primarily by the Brazilian government, the SwB program aims to send 101,000 Brazilian students abroad by 2015 to study in fields pertaining to STEM. Canadian colleges only started becoming involved last academic year through the Association of Community Colleges.
Algonquin followed up with the ACC last year, expressed interest in becoming involved in the program and now the college will welcome a cohort of students this semester and the following as well. There are currently about 25 to 30 colleges across Canada that are participating in this program and, as a whole, the country aims to take on around 12,000 students by 2015.
Christine Peachey, manager of International Partnerships and Programs at Algonquin, believes that the program presents an opportunity for cultural exchange of different academic perspectives and ways of doing things.
“They’re getting to learn different ways of learning and different ways of being taught,” said Peachy. “They’re having the opportunity to improve their English as well, and it’s an opportunity for them to learn about another culture, a different academic perspective and they also bring a different academic perspective to the classroom as well.”
The students will stay at the college for a maximum of two terms and the credits that they earn will be applied to their course back home.
Federal Technological University of Paraná civil engineering student Ana Claudia Bergmann, 21, and electrical engineering student Gabriel Dominissi, 21, have been in Ottawa for about two weeks, but already the city and the college have left an impression.
“It’s a beautiful place,” said Dominissi. “Everyone is so polite here and helpful. Algonquin College has been very supportive because they know we’re far away from our home and they have been so welcoming and attentive. It’s really nice.”
“Just walking the street when I saw the leaves falling, that’s very beautiful for us,” said Bergmann.
“But it’s very, very cold here. Your fall is our winter.”
For the first six months of their stay the students be exclusively taking English classes before jumping into a program that pertains to their particular field of study.
“I want to improve my English because it’s very important in Brazil to be good in a second language,” said Dominissi.
“It’s also important to know how the buildings are constructed here and how different the process is here,” said Bergmann.
They also see this as an opportunity to learn the quirks, culture and customs of the Canadian people, so that if it arises that they need to work professionally with a Canadian in the future the process won’t be foreign to them.
“I think it’s going to be really hard for us because we’re not really used to the language and I don’t know how they study, but it’s going to be a really good challenge,” said Dominissi.
At the end of the year and a half experience, Dominissi hopes to be able to go back to Brazil with his new skills to help businesses and enterprises be more energy efficient, while Bergmann wants to bring back all the useful things that they don’t have in Brazil that would make work easier in her sector.
And despite all the new distractions around them, Dominissi only has one thing on his mind:
“Study a lot,” said Dominissi.
“We came to study. Everything we can get, we want.”