This is a piece 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 land and the 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.
As a recruiter of international students for your school, you know full well that the size of the world can’t be accurately represented on a map. It is much bigger than a projection shows, and much more complicated. A map flattens out differences, and our categories for countries do so even more. Take Brazil- it is easy to lump it into basic categories, to delineate and categorize: this country is South American; it is a Rising Power; it is an equatorial nation. All are accurate, but they strip away nuance and leave you less sure about the actual nature of a place.
An international recruiter can’t afford to do that. A blanket approach doesn’t work- the efforts and attentions that can convince a Chinese student to come to the United States might not work for a Brazilian student. There are rough similarities, but the minor differences and oblique angles are the areas that determine success or failure.
The Need for Scientific Education
It is no slight toward Brazil to say that its education system hasn’t completely caught up with its bursting ambitions and explosive economic growth. It is indeed a tribute to their schools that its students have revolutionized the country in such a short amount of time. But right now Brazil is at a tipping point: it is competing on a global scale, but doesn’t have the required expertise to move forward. That leaves it two options: import all its talent (the Saudia Arabia/Qatar model), or export its students to learn, and then have them return to help develop the country (the India/China model). Brazil, to its great credit, is choosing the latter.
Brazil is vigorously working with the U.S., Canada, and the EU to send its students out in the world to receive a scientific education. A public-private hybrid model plans to send over 100,000 students to the United States to receive education in practical and technical fields. It’s aim and goal is nothing short of astonishing:
Science Without Borders covers all aspects of scientific study: computer and information technology; mathematics; physics; biology; health science; marine science; industrial and electrical engineering; mining, oil and gas technologies; and systems analysis and industrial design. The aim is to lift Brazil’s scientific and economic capabilities in a single generation.
The plan is for this to improve economic growth and give Brazil a basis of knowledge to build its nation with its own native genius (which really is the only path to sustainable success).
And while this program is mostly aimed at college-age students, they aren’t going to send just anyone over. They will be looking for the best and the brightest, and those most likely to succeed. That’s where your school comes in. You can prepare these students for the rigors of an American education by giving them a solid background not just in the classroom, but outside of it as well. A major obstacle for students studying abroad is the adjustment phase- dealing with language, cultural differences, homesickness, climate- everything that comes with being adrift. But with your help, they will become accustomed to all these aspects before they get to college. Then they will be able to hit the ground running and be enormously prepared for success. (And if they’ve gone to an excellent international preparatory school beforehand, even better!)
This is all well and good, but there are other factors in deciding where to study than education. There are schools all over the world that, if not quite as good as yours, at least in the ballpark. So why come to America?
Well, it is important to note that the cultural ties between the United States and Brazil have never been stronger. Of all Brazilian emigrants, nearly half live in the United States. There are vibrant Brazilian communities in nearly every major city, with the largest concentration of Brazilians located on the East Coast, in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, as well as California. On a less-personal, macro level, you can talk about the increased economic ties between our two great nations, and how being familiar with this country will help them in the future.
Also, if your school ever sponsors a trip to Disney World, it would not hurt to emphasize that, as Brazilians apparently love it- to the point where Disney World now has over 100 Portuguese-speaking greeters.
Your school may not be able to bill itself as the “happiest place on earth”, and possibly doesn’t have parades every hour on the hour (I assume). But that doesn’t mean you can’t gear your pitch to appeal to Brazilian students, in order to harness the tide of this amazing vibrant nation, exploding with the passion, to explore and to interact with the rest of the world. You can already offer what this rising generation wants and needs, and now you know how to sell it.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about helping Brazilian students adjust to life in the United States once they have arrived.
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.