Conexão Mundo is a unique collaboration between US-Brazil Connect and the following Brazilian Partners: the Department of Education (SEDUC), the Brazilian Confederation of Industry (CNI), and its SESI/SENAI school systems. The jointly implemented international education initiative aims to:
- Strengthen the English-language skills and confidence of Brazilian high school students
- Provide transformative learning experiences for US college students and young professionals
- Build capacity for exchange between US community colleges and Brazilian technical institutions
- Open avenues for partnership between governments, organizations, and companies in both the US and Brazil
US-Brazil Connect’s approach—focusing on relationships and empowerment—has had tremendous impact on participants across Brazil and the US.
Prior to Conexão Mundo, many participating Brazilian students may have studied some English in grammar-based classrooms. However, the majority of students have never met nor communicated with a foreigner, especially a native/near-native English speaker. For these students, their greatest barrier to communicating in English has more to do with attitude and confidence, not a lack of aptitude or ability.
Because of varying degrees of English fluency and comprehension, students may be nervous, shy, or even afraid to have a basic conversation in English. Additionally, when students have never met a person from another country, the value of being able to communicate in another language can be abstract and intimidating.
The educational framework, developed jointly by US-Brazil Connect and its Brazilian partners, is asset-based. It is designed to build on students’ strengths, skills, and interests. This approach helps students overcome fear, take risks, grow, have fun with the learning process, build relationships with everyone involved, and expand their knowledge of career pathways.
US-Brazil Connect Fellows serve in this model as English coaches – not teachers. Their job is to help students build confidence communicating in a different language. Through coaching, Fellows are also challenged to overcome fear, take risks, grow, and build relationships with their students. The program’s transformative power depends on the shared vulnerability of Brazilian students and US coaches, which leads to mutual growth and support.
Conexão Mundo is divided into 4 phases.
All participating students who complete required program components earn a Conexão Mundo certificate of completion, collaboratively issued by their state SENAI/SESI office, CNI in Brasilia, SEDUC, and US-Brazil Connect.
As an incentive for all students, the top participating students in each Brazilian state have the opportunity to travel to the US in an all-expenses paid trip, sponsored by US-Brazil Connect, SEDUC, CNI, and SESI/SENAI. The criteria for trip selection is outlined on the CNI website.
Working with the Brazilian Confederation of Industry (CNI), and the Department of Education (SEDUC), US-Brazil Connect partners with designated SENAI/SESI schools in Brazil.
Each designated Conexão Mundo site appoints a Brazilian program coordinator, who is responsible for coordinating Brazilian students, managing logistics at the school, and making local arrangements for the US-Brazil Connect team. Brazilian students interested in the program must participate in a competitive application process prior to being accepted into the program; in most sites, students are between 15-19 years old and may be studying in technical fields (engineering, mechanics, etc.). By strengthening their confidence and skill to communicate in English, these students will have access to more academic and professional opportunities.
Each US-Brazil Connect team is comprised of Fellows and Leaders. Leaders are responsible for coordinating team logistics and supporting US-Brazil Connect Fellows’ work as coaches. Fellows are either college/university students or young professionals. To participate in this experience, in addition to serving as English coaches, Fellows must be team-oriented and actively participate in a rigorous, holistic global leadership training, which runs 24 weeks. The size of each US-Brazil Connect team is based on the number of students enrolled at each designated Conexão Mundo site.
US-Brazil Connect central staff at the Denver headquarters are responsible for staffing, training, and overseeing all US-Brazil Connect teams. CNI staff, who are based in Brasilia, Brazil, are responsible for training and supporting designated SENAI/SESI coordinators in each participating Brazilian state.
Transformative Learning Methodology
The Conexão Mundo program is a transformative learning experience for American Fellows and Brazilian students. Our methodology is based on the following core principles:
Student-Centered, Asset-Based Learning
Our educational framework is designed to build on participants’ strengths, skills, and interests. Our approach empowers participants to overcome fear, take risks, and learn from one another. We utilize project-based learning with weekly themes and outcomes.
Creating meaningful relationships across cultures is core to our model. Coaches serve as facilitators and peer mentors; they are not teachers. Conexão Mundo is designed to build students’ confidence to communicate in English while providing a real-world leadership development opportunity for our coaches. The program’s transformative power depends on the shared vulnerability of all participants, which leads to mutual growth and support.
Our use of technology and social media to create relationships and facilitate learning makes our program stand out. We provide our coaches with a curriculum framework and they use their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit to build customized, unique learning environments. All participants are provided multiple levels of support to be successful throughout the program.
Interaction & Fun
Our program makes learning fun! Participants are encouraged to be playful. They are encouraged to dream big and to work collaboratively in English to address issues facing their generation.