Allegheny strengthens connections with Brazilian exchange program
By ANGELA MAURONI
This year, Allegheny has more deeply involved itself in the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP), a program focused on providing scholarships for Brazilian undergraduate and graduate students. These scholarships allow them to come to a United States college or university for one academic year before they return to Brazil to complete their degrees.
Because of the college’s stronger connection with the program, it has gained a significant number of Brazilian students. Currently, there are 20 Brazilian students attending Allegheny.
“The program is simply the greatest opportunity in life for an academic student from Brazil,” commented Brazilian student Bruno Marques. “Because it’s rare to have this chance to come to the USA for a whole year, in my case, with everything arranged to us, from the meal plan till our trips and residence life. It is a amazing and almost unbelievable chance.”
This program is part of a more expansive project by the Brazilian government to provide more than 100,000 students with scholarships if they are involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
With more than 40% of the Brazilian population being below 24 years old in 2013, according to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the government sought out more opportunities to educate as many from this percentage as they could. When the government experienced difficulty in supplying enough educational systems to everyone, they began exploring their options with projects such as the BSMP.
Vice President of Enrollment and College Relations Brian Dalton brought the knowledge of the BSMP to Allegheny, and Allegheny applied to be a part of it soon after.
“What we’re interested in in Brazil is not just these students… it’s that the infusion of difference is transformational,” Dalton said.
He also acknowledged the high levels of intelligence and curiosity in the students.
The students participating in this program do not have their credits transferred over when they return to Brazil, because many of the credits are not recognized there. When a student enters the higher education system in Brazil, they begin and end with learning aspects specifically directed toward their field of study, usually law and medicine. Because the students are funded for an entire academic year, however, they gain the experience of the humanities courses they were not previously familiar with. They also gain the opportunity to do research and internships.
Although the higher education system in Brazil is different, Brazilian student Rodolpho Camargo feels he has made a smooth transition.
“I felt home since the first day I got here,” Camargo said. “Everyone has been so friendly, the campus is very beautiful, and the people around me, such as the International Office and my coordinator, always want to make sure I am feeling comfortable. Also, the professors are very helpful and supportive, and the classes I am taking are quite demanding and interesting.”
Marques admitted that the transition can be challenging at times.
“Is a little bit hard to adapt on the first days,” he said.
Despite the difficulties of the transition, he also expressed excitement in his experiences:
“Every day is a day to learn new things, words, people, and that is incredible.”
In the future, Allegheny plans to continue their involvement in the BSMP. The college also hopes to reach out to Brazilian schools that have English as a second language, and begin an exchange for those seeking a degree. Dalton is also planning on travelling to Brazil in October to raise awareness of the BSMP and connect with young people and their parents.