Brazilian partnership brings global perspective to campus

March 7, 2014

What a difference a year makes.

Randy Dillard made his first recruitment trip to Brazil about a year ago. Now, University of Michigan-Dearborn has a budding partnership with the country. And it’s one that benefits students both here and abroad.

UM-Dearborn is one of 16 universities selected for the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP). The yearlong program, run through the Institute of International Education (IIE), will help UM-Dearborn build partnerships with Brazilian universities.

The university has a head start on that front.

This year, they are one of about 350 universities to join the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP). The program is sponsored by the Brazilian government and pays for students to study in the U.S.

“Brazil is a trendsetter in investing in their college students,” said Dillard, a recruiter in the Office of International Affairs. “They are making a focused effort to train students in STEM-related fields.”

In fact, 60 percent of BSMP participants are engineering students.

Leticia Cremasco was one of those students. She enrolled in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) last fall.

“Studying at UM-Dearborn opened my mind to the world around me and to other opportunities,” she said. “When you study abroad, you learn scientific knowledge. But you also learn about new cultures, which I think enhances the experience.”

It enhances the experience for local students too, says Jung Koral.

Koral is an international student adviser in CECS and works with students from Brazil and a handful of other countries. He sees how their viewpoints strengthen students’ learning.

“Our students on campus benefit tremendously from these programs,” Koral said. “Southeast Michigan is full of multinational companies and our students have experience working on projects with diverse groups of collaborators.”

Dillard hopes to see the Brazil program continue to develop. Next month, Monica Porter and Trista Wdziekonski will participate in an IAPP study tour of Brazil.

They also plan to use their experiences in Brazil as a blueprint for reaching out to other countries.

“Robust international programs have anchored partnerships,” Dillard said. “Our work with Brazil is teaching us how to initiate and grow the program.”

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