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NMU-Brazil Student Exchange Ending

A group of NMU students will escape the winter weather in February and travel to South America. They are the final participants in a student exchange partnership between NMU, Western Michigan University and two Brazilian institutions supported by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Since the grant was initiated in 2008, NMU and WMU students have spent the winter semester in Brazil, studying Portuguese and completing an internship at a business or organization. In return, Brazilian students have come to the Michigan universities in the fall semester for a similar experience. The program was designed to promote socially, environmentally and economically sustainable entrepreneurship.

 “The grant has paid for tuition and other costs, including a $5,000 stipend for the students to help with housing and transportation,” said Kevin Timlin (International Programs). “The grant also helped to cover administrative costs for the partnership.

Over the grant’s lifetime, 16 NMU students—including those leaving next month—will have participated. Fourteen Brazilian students have come to NMU.

“Those are nice numbers for an exchange that’s only gone four times,” said Susan Morgan (International Programs). “Other opportunities like this are available. Perhaps not all of them have $5,000 stipends, but the opportunities are there. It’s really a matter of continuing to find effective ways to communicate that to students.”

The late Susan Goodrich (Modern Languages and Literatures) was instrumental in setting up the program. Ray Amtmann (Business) was the grant manager before he retired and was responsible for finding internship opportunities. Timlin says more grant money is available for similar international education programs and he encourages other faculty members to submit ideas.

“I know the Brazilian partnership has created wonderful inroads between the universities,” Timlin said. “From what I have seen, in terms of the Brazilian students who came here and participated, they had internship opportunities and they integrated really well into the community, their residence hall systems and with other international students. They really contributed towards increased cultural awareness, and learning between the two countries.”

Timlin said Brazil was chosen for the grant because it is playing a growing role in the global economy. Combined with its vibrant culture, it provides a unique and economically influential place for American students to study.