This is the first in an occasional series of articles about the BRIC nations. If you are looking for international students, these rising powers provide an important opportunity, but you have to know about the country and its people to effectively recruit.  This week, we’ll be discussing Brazil- it’s rise, obstacles it faces, how recruiters can appeal to potential Brazilian students, and how to make sure students are adjusting well to life in America.

Brazil: it resides in our imagination for the vastness of its jungle, the mysteries of the Amazon, its tropical climate, and the merry joy of its people. Countries tend to do that: conjure up a few stock images. But behind those notions, there are real nations. Brazil is more than the sum of its lush topography or pop culture-borne ideas of Carnivale- it is a growing economic and political power, the titan of the global south, and a rich region for international recruiters.

If you are looking for students to join your international program, Brazil is a largely untapped market, residing as it does in an “exotic” part of our cultural imagination. It would be a mistake to think of it that way. Brazil has the seventh largest economy in the world, and the largest in South America, residing just below the United States in our hemisphere. It has a restless and energetic young population, eager to expand upon their education and become part of the global economy.


Rio de Janiero, the beating heart (though not the capital) of an ascendant power.
Image from morguefile user ryanmbevin

How Brazil Grew

Looking at Brazil, it is easy to imagine it a power. The country is huge, over 8 million square miles, and the fifth-largest country in the world. It is natural to assume that it would be strong and rich, and you might even wonder why it took so long? Without getting into history, and without asserting that geography is destiny, a closer look reveals the challenges in wrangling together a national economy over an area so vast and so fractured by river and jungles. Indeed, there are still some tribes completely cut off from modernity, despite either well-meaning or rapacious attempts to introduce them.

It is this modernity, though- the power of communication and the relative ease of travel- that has allowed Brazil to harness the great energy of its land and people. Brazil is astonishingly fertile in natural resources, and that kind of export potential is what has allowed it to grow so rapidly. Despite the jungles, Brazil also has rich farmland, like the Asian steppes or the American heartland, which allows it to export massive amounts of food, filling its coffers with taxes and tariffs.  Brazil also has a large industrial base, extensive ports and harbors, and a growing technological sector.  Its ascension to global power has led it to an Olympic bid for 2016, and for years there has been talk of it deserving a spot on the United Nations Security Council.

The Need for Expertise

But this huge growth comes with perils and pitfalls. The educational system hasn’t been able to keep pace with development, leaving many students in a lurch, unskilled for jobs in their own country. This is where international schools can come in and make a difference in this country’s future.

Getting an opportunity to be educated at a top-notch American high school is the best way for young Brazilians to prepare for acceptance and enrollment at an elite American university, which is a growing demand in this country. Brazilians are bursting with dreams of receiving a quality education, becoming skilled, and helping their home nation continue its meteoric growth. The Brazilian economy has so much energy, that despite its huge size, the country is nearly bursting at the seams. It is eager to send its students abroad to study. You should be equally eager to help them in this endeavor.

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll look at the pitfalls Brazil faces as it rises, and how it may affect your recruiting.


The international student experience is both challenging and exciting. Whether you are a student considering studying in America, their parent, the host family, the Head of School, an international coordinator, or even a potential classmate, there are as many opportunities for confusion as there are to learn. The ISPA is here to help bridge that gap, to ensure that this opportunity and adventure is met with the highest level of success.