In nearly every corner of the world, providing children with the highest quality education is a top priority. There are a number of resources available to help teachers in this quest, including sharing ideas and information with each other. And that resource is not limited by borders.
Just last week a team of four elementary teachers from Brazil visited Broken Bow as part of a Rotary International exchange program. It was the first time any of the four had visited the United States, and all said they were very impressed with our country’s educational system.
The teachers explained that in their country students only go to school half days. There is also a big difference between public and private education.
“Those in private schools do better, so anyone with money goes there,” explains Brazilian team member Giselle Queiroz. She says on the other hand, however, public universities are much better in Brazil than the private ones.
Giselle says the students in the private schools in Brazil study to be able to pass the test to get in to the public universities. She says teachers in Brazil are not paid well; therefore, many work more than one job, teaching morning, afternoon and evening classes.
“They don’t value the teachers in our country,” says Giselle.
Value was something all four team members mentioned in terms of the students they saw while visiting Broken Bow’s schools. “You really value your children,” was a sentiment shared by all four teachers.
All four of the team members work in adult education as well as elementary education. They say they want to help those who didn’t have the chance to go to school as children.
Though education is their primary interest, the team shared other areas in which Brazil and the U.S. differ. One of those is food.
“The portion sizes here are so big!” exclaimed team member Fabricia Lischt.
She explains that in Brazil they seldom eat bread at lunch time. The noon meal typically consists of rice, beans, vegetables, and/or meat.
Team leader Waldir Andrade, on his second visit to the U.S., shared something he has noticed. “The American flag is flown everywhere here. In Brazil it is seen mainly at soccer games.”
It is no surprise the prominence of the nation’s flag would be of interest to Waldir. He is a retired Colonel from the Brazilian Air Force. And while he has visited the U.S. one other time, it was to Florida - so he had also never seen snow prior to his visit to Broken Bow.
All of the team members say their perception of American people has changed dramatically as the result of their visit. They say that they have been taught that American are very unfriendly people who don’t care about anyone.
“That is not true,” says Giselle. “The people here are even warmer than in Brazil - and much more polite!”
When asked what they have been most impressed with so far on their visit, nearly all of them said the people. Fabricia added the snow along with the people. It was the first time any of them had seen snow, and they took advantage of the opportunity by building snow angels and a snow man while visiting Mike and Denise Steckler’s house.
“I was impressed with the technology of the school, the hospital and the wind farm,” said team member Christiane Lobo.
Team leader Waldir added, “The one word I can think to explain everything we have experienced is - hospitality. Friendship.”
The team will be in Nebraska for a month, and besides Broken Bow they will visit Curtis, O’Neill, Chadron and Grant.
The primary language in Brazil is Portuguese, the only country in South America with that distinction. Each of the team members speak English fairly well, especially Giselle who teaches English back in Brazil.
Team member Odirleny Avila also teaches English and Religious Education to teens. She was very interested in learning more about the American education system and teaching techniques.
Christiane says that on her visit she wants to learn about the “American way of life.” She says she loves to listen to music, dance, and to “eat sandwich.”
Fabricia says she is very interested in learning about the process of literacy in the U.S., and about how lessons are planned and how the teachers work in American schools.
Giselle is also very interested in learning about the American teaching system; in particular, how material is chosen for specific age groups. She, too, says she just wants to experience the “American way of life.”
The team members stayed with host families while visiting Broken Bow, and all said their time with those families was one of the highlights of their visit.
“I’m impressed with the nice people here in Broken Bow,” said Odirleny.