Kansas State University Salina is experiencing an influx in its international student population this year after 55 Brazilian students arrived on campus to study engineering technology.
The students are participating in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, which allows them to study for one year at a university in the United States. They continue with their current education while improving their English-speaking skills and immersing themselves in American culture. The program selects about 3,000 students to participate each year after a lengthy application process.
“It was very hard. I waited almost one year to find out if I was chosen,” said Joao Cruz, a student from Sao Paulo, Brazil. “But it was worth the wait. I am happy to be here. I want to learn as much as I possibly can.”
This is the first year K-State Salina has hosted students from the exchange program, so the university’s staff spent extra time preparing for their stay. Dixie Schierlman, associate dean of student services, says they tried to consider everything needed in anticipation of the new students.
“We wanted to make sure these students felt at home in Salina,” Schierlman said. “We added activities and events during Wildcat Welcome Week and placed them with American roommates so they could get more acquainted with other students. We helped set up bank accounts, bought bus passes for those living off campus and created a presentation on cultural differences so they can become more acclimated to their new surroundings.”
K-State Salina also will receive 60 bikes from the refurbishing program at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility so the Brazilian students will have additional transportation around the campus and city. The campus even created the Cats Community Outreach Program where local families, organizations and church groups can sign up to share an American experience with students, such as a sporting event, festival, theatre show or concert.
Along with learning about American culture, the Brazilian students also expect to improve their English-speaking skills and advance their engineering education. Before arriving, the students completed an intensive six-week English program in Manhattan and will continue to study the language at K-State Salina. They also will enroll in business and computer systems technology classes as well as electrical and mechanical engineering, and a petroleum engineering class created specifically for their area of study in Brazil.
After two semesters at K-State Salina, the students will then be eligible for a summer internship before returning to their home university. Mark Jackson, the head of the engineering technology department at K-State Salina, says this experience is designed to not only benefit the Brazilian students and their country, but also the American students and industries they work with while they’re here.
“The Brazilian students will take with them an increased knowledge in engineering and English to help improve their country. But the relationships they build in America will be key as well,” Jackson said. “Connecting people from these two countries could increase economic activity between the two in the future.”
Jackson also says bringing these students to K-State Salina raises the international profile of the university — where there were only 23 international students last year, this year’s number has tripled, including other new students from the Czech Republic, China and Japan.
“My parents are very proud of me,” said Louise Marianne De Matos Brasil, a student from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. “I have never been to the United States before this, and I’m very excited to be a Wildcat.”
Story by: Julee Cobb / KSU Salina