SIU recruits Brazilian students

By Riley Swinford

Students from Brazil may soon trade their view of the Amazon rainforest for a view of the university’s Thompson Woods.

Cheryl Barnett, international recruitment coordinator, as well as Cheryl Ernst and Patricia Krejcik, faculty from the Center for English as a Second Language’s department of linguistics, visited Brazil three times in the past two months to meet with various government leaders and discuss ways to recruit students from Brazil.

The trio said they met with the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education, and they attended a Brazilian government-sponsored commercial affair for recruitment purposes. They also met with thousands of Brazilian students during September and October as a part of the university’s recruitment efforts.


“We are hoping to see some of these students arrive for the spring semester,” Barnett said.

She said the three chose to go to Brazil because of the country’s booming economy. Brazil ranks with India and China, she said, as having one of the top emerging international economies.

Barnett said SIU hasn’t had a large Brazilian presence, which was another reason the trips were planned. She estimated fewer than 10 Brazilian students attend SIU, and she would like to see a more diverse student population.

“We want students from all over the world in all our colleges so they can interact with our students,” she said. “It’s good for our population and good for (the other countries’) population. It’s a win-win.”

Brazil also recently implemented a federally funded program called Science Without Borders, which sends 100,000 Brazilian students to international host countries for up to a year. This program enables science, technology, engineering and math students to study abroad.

Barnett said SIU recently joined this program.

Yi Lee, the university’s international program coordinator, said partnerships with other countries are beneficial to everyone involved.


“They are getting a cultural understanding of the United States and the academic experience of the American education system,” he said. “Also, our students are learning about the cultural diversities of the world.

Barnett said the results so far have been encouraging. She said website data showed a recent spike of Brazilian students who are interested in attending the university. She said she will find out the official numbers of students who will attend the university soon.

Daniel VanOverbeke, a graduate student in accounting from Fox Lake, said it is important to have a diverse student population.

“It really benefits the university,” he said. “It helps by teaching everyone how to interact with each other.”

Sukrita Bhardwaj, a senior studying psychology who was born in India, said she likes the cultural diversity available at the SIU campus.

“It benefits my education because I get to see other students’ perspectives,” she said.

Le Gao, a senior from China studying computer science, said she is glad the university recruits internationally.

“We all have different ideas and it is good to share them,” she said. “If we do things together, we will all learn from each other.”