Copy
It is my hope that the US-Brazil Connect Fellows of 2016 not only see Brazil, but that they see a new place for themselves in a world that needs them as leaders who bring a fresh vision for connection, creativity, respect… and ultimately for peace on our planet. 
    
-inside this email- 
  

Inside Look: Walls or Bridges, What Makes Us Stronger? 

"It is my hope that the US-Brazil Connect Fellows of 2016 not only see Brazil, but that they see a new place for themselves in a world that needs them as leaders who bring a fresh vision for connection, creativity, respect… and ultimately for peace on our planet."  

 

Our training of the new 2016 team of fellows has begun! 


 


Stories of Connection: 80 Host Families Open Their Homes and Hearts to Our Brazilian Students  

"It was one of the best decisions we made. Our kids have learned so much about another culture… through the eyes of other teenagers."

 


Impact in Action: Continuing Good Work as Fulbright Scholars 

Many of our US-Brazil Fellows/leaders alumni have earned the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and we are still counting.

Walls or Bridges, What Makes Us Stronger? 

     
As our fifth class of US-Brazil Connect Fellows prepares for travel to Brazil in late June, I am thinking about their return to the U.S. and how this experience can create ripples of change that last for years. 

In 1976, I returned from a year as a Rotary exchange student in Brazil to a mood of fear in the United States. The country was focused on soaring energy prices, repercussions from our withdrawal from Vietnam, regime shifts in the Middle East, and a U.S. manufacturing sector in distress. 
 
The rules seemed to be changing and it was unclear who or what was in charge. I watched a family friend lose his flower-growing business in the face of foreign competition and my own father search for a new career after budget cuts at the university eliminated his job.  For me, the signs were mixed: unemployment was high, yet I also saw doors cracking open for young women that I knew had been sealed shut to the generations before me. It was a confused and uncertain time.

Today, as forty years ago, seismic shifts across the globe are shaking our foundations: terrorism strikes innocent people on nearly a daily basis, the price of oil has plummeted, China’s economy is slowing, and the largest refugee migration since World War II pressures the European Union. 

In response to the shift, we hear the call for walls to protect the United States. I reflect on my experience forty years ago. In the face of seismic change, I have learned that walls are appealing, but they don’t bring protection. Sadly, they collapse and bury those who huddle on the inside. 

As foundations shift, we need clarity about what really matters and the capacity to connect with the energy of change- not walls to resist it. We need the freedom to rise to new places and see the shifts from a variety of perspectives. Connecting with change is only possible when we let go of what feels certain.

I realize today that my time as a young person in Brazil gave me this gift. It took me away from what I knew and changed how I view and experience turbulence.  Returning home, I didn’t just see challenges from the perspective of Littleton, Colorado; I entered college seeing the world also from the perspective of having lived in Brazil under its dictatorship in the 1970s and in an economy with an enormous gap between the rich and poor. I also had experienced new rhythms and responses to challenges: I had deep friendships with Brazilian teenagers and saw them in conditions more challenging than anything I knew in the United States.  

Today, as forty years ago, the problems we face are too serious for Americans to hide behind walls, insisting that the shaking stop.   

I founded US-Brazil Connect because I wanted young people to have the opportunity I had so many years ago: to step away from what feels certain and see the world with new eyes, feel the rumblings, and to gain a new understanding of the power to create in the midst of change. It is my hope that the US-Brazil Connect Fellows of 2016 not only see Brazil, but that they see a new place for themselves in a world that needs them as leaders who bring a fresh vision for connection, creativity, respect… and ultimately for peace on our planet. 

It's that time of year, where we are bringing together strangers to form remarkable teams of young conscious leaders. Our training of the new 2016 team of fellows has begun! This year, we will be working with Brazilian students from three returning sites and we are delighted to continue working with three of our community college partners: Northwestern Michigan College, Kirkwood Community College, and Flathead Valley Community College. Together, our Fellows will work with 144 Brazilian students throughout the 2016 US-Brazil Connect Fellowship.
 
We have already had a few of our virtual trainings using Google Hangout! 

80 Host Families Opened Their Homes & Hearts to Our Brazilian Students

Traveling across the world to foreign lands requires courage, and so does opening your home to strangers. But courage has its rewards. This February we witnessed courage from our 88 Brazilian students who traveled to Colorado and our 80 Colorado host families who opened their homes and hearts. US-Brazil Connect welcomed these students from 32 sites across Brazil as the final stage of the Conexão Mundo program. US-Brazil Connect partnered with schools, universities and companies with a focus in STEM to engage students in English immersion, educational visits and a fun cultural experience.  

During their stay, students stayed with host families across the Denver and Boulder area. Participating families opened their home and their hearts and the impact that resulted for both the students and the families was truly heartwarming and inspirational. A few host families share their experience here: 

Debbie Blanco: We have hosted a student through US Brazil for 2 years now, and have had the most amazing experiences with our students, one from Joinville, and one from Aracaju. With 3 teens in the house, we were hesitant to host due to the perceived chaos of having another student to fit into our crazy schedule. But it was one of the best decisions we made. Our kids have learned so much about another culture….through the eyes of other teenagers. And the groups of kids that are chosen for this program….they are amazing kids. Polite, curious, kind, calm….and so interested in seeing everything here….but also interested in sharing with us about their culture and their country.
I see a trip to Brazil at some point in our future. And I would have never said that before hosting these students through this program. It has really opened our eyes in a positive way to not only Brazil, but to other opportunities as well. Maybe hosting other students from other programs, or having our own kids participating in an exchange program. The Brazil kids in particular, are so nice….and we’ve loved sharing our home with them, and including them as part of our family. We would be thrilled at any point in the future to have Yana or Ricardo visit again….or to see them in Brazil. I believe we’ll stay connected to them for a lifetime. We couldn’t have asked for better experiences!!!


Click for more host family stories! 

US-Brazil Connect is proud to work with so many inspiring Global Leaders from across the United States. Leaders and Fellows who have participated in our programs have gone on to make a huge impact in our world. 

 

We are excited to share the news that many of our US-Brazil Fellows/leaders alumni have earned the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and we are still counting. The Fulbright program offers grants to students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad. The program is extremely competitive and US-Brazil Connect is honored to have these great alumni achieve such an accomplishment! 

Mary Nagel, David J. Gonzalez, Katie Phelan, Chelsea Raubenheimer, Elizabeth DiVito, Amanda Peskin and Sandra de la Riva


Copyright © 2016 US-Brazil Connect, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list