Graduate School's U.S. Brazil Exchange Program Culminates with Celebration

November 6, 2007

Gwendolyn S. Bethea
Director, Communication and
Public Relations


In a culminating event, billed as "Brazil Day," the Howard University Graduate School ended its four-year U.S. Brazil Exchange Program on November 5, 2007 on the campus of Howard University with a special celebration in the Browsing Room of Founders Library.  The celebration began with welcoming remarks by Orlando L. Taylor, Vice Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School and Co-Principal Investigator on the project with Wayne Patterson, Senior Fellow and Professor of Computer Science, and currently the Program Manager for International Science and Engineering in Developing Countries at the National Science Foundation.  Dean Taylor acknowledged the many individuals who had been instrumental in the success of the program, including Howard's U.S. partner in the exchange, Vanderbilt University, and its Brazilian partners, Universidade de São Paulo and the Universidade Federal da Bahia

Dr. Carlos Azzoni, Dean of Faculty of Economics, Universidade de São Paulo; Dr. Paula Barreto, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Universidade Federal da Bahia;  Dr. Richard A. English, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Howard University; Antonio Patriota, Ambassador of Brazil; Ralph Hines, Acting Director of the  U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE); and  Sarah Beaton, Program Officer and Coordinator, US-Brazil Program, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), also gave remarks during the program.  

Dr. Azzoni expressed pleasure at the fact that student participants had been empowered as a result of the exchange program and that it is his desire that the program continues. This statement was echoed by Provost English who suggested that the culminating celebration should really be considered as a new "turn in the road" for the program. He acknowledged the U.S. and Brazilian partners and several individuals at Howard, including Vice Provost Taylor; Dr. Patterson; Lisa Rawlings, doctoral student in Social Work, who has served as the Program Coordinator; Dr. Anita Nahal, the Acting Director of International Affairs, and others.  

Ambassador Antonio Patriota stated that the exchange partner institutions should build upon the experiences of the program, and he pledged support in these efforts. According to Ralph Hines, Acting Director of FIPSE, these experiences are the beginning of future relationships for which FIPSE has only provided a seed. "Not only is the program useful in providing more students international opportunities, but it is helpful in getting more faculty involved in helping to market and build relationships across disciplines in international exchanges of this nature.  Our interest at FIPSE is in providing seed money to continue programs so that many more students can participate in these kinds of exchange programs.  The money is not the main thing; it is the goodwill that will grow well beyond these initial relationships.  Given the demographics of our society, we need these exchange programs so that we can better understand who we are as a country ... as a society of many cultures.  [Ours] is a small investment in a positive and peaceful relationship with countries around the world.  [In that regard,] we hope to promote similar exchange opportunities with other countries" he stated.  

Beaton recounted her experiences as an exchange student in English speaking countries.  She stated that programs like the U.S. - Brazil program with non-English speaking countries help to create “globally competent students.”  

In other remarks during the program, Dr. Leonard Haynes, formerly Director of FIPSE and now the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs), stated that "Howard University may be called upon to share its experiences with study abroad programs with the other HBCUs," continuing that it is his hope that Howard will serve as an example to these institutions.  

In his closing remarks, Dean Taylor stated that he believes that higher education institutions cannot produce the next generation of faculty without ensuring opportunities for global exchange experiences for students who will join the professoriate.  

The program also featured the presentations of student exchange participants, Koren Bedeau, Wilma Benitez-Rivera, Jamila Cupid, Camila Pereira, Laura Straghn, and Nayda Torres-Soto, who spoke of their academic and personal experiences in the program.  Each student expressed both the richness of the exchange, as well as the dynamics of the cultural similarities and differences between the U.S. and Brazil.  

The U.S. Brazil Exchange Program was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education.  

            The celebration ended with an exciting Brazilian cultural presentation by "Capoeira and Samba" and a reception in the Howard University Museum. For more information on Study Abroad Programs in the Graduate School, call 202-806-7887 or visit the web site at

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