CARBONDALE — SIU is hosting 30 Brazilian English teachers who arrived here in mid-January for a six-week international professional development education program.

Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) Lecturer Kevan Self said SIU’s participation in the professional development education program with 17 other universities in 15 states involves representation from the Institute of International Education, the Brazil Education ministry, Fulbright Commission and U.S. Embassy in Brazil.

“It’s an honor that we were selected to receive these students and we hope it will lead to similar groups coming in the future,” Self said.

It’s a long way from home, but the Brazilian teachers are enjoying their stay here based on observations of class participation and an interview with Laecio Barros, 42, of Petrolina, Brazil, a city of 350,000 people where he teaches English to Brazilian high school and university students.

“I’m learning a lot. There is something new to see everyday. The people are very kind. They have made us feel at home,” Barros said.

He and his colleagues reside in an SIU dorm. They attend classes in CESL at Faner Hall to learn more about instructional methodology, American culture and language and more about computer education sites and programs.

What has impressed Barros most in addition to the cordiality of the SIU community is American practicality, he said.

“Here you are very objective and go straight to the point,” Barros said about the pace of life and social mingling he has observed and been a part of the last few weeks.

It’s different from a circuitous approach to living, learning and socializing in Brazil, he said with a smile.

The development training is not limited to the classroom.

Barros and his colleagues have visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield and observed classes taught in a St. Louis high school. Closer to home, they have gotten into the swing of SIU campus life such as attending Saluki basketball games.

During a recent class on American culture, CESL lecturer Mary Black talked to Barros and 15 other students about the Civil War period and its impact on American life up to current times.

Her presentation included a sampling of music from the period as Black talked about melody and words reflecting “an Afro-European mixture of tradition.”

There is an upcoming field trip to Memphis for the teachers to witness and feel Southern culture first-hand with a possibility of visiting the home of the King — Elvis Presley.

“I’m proud I’ve never been in Graceland,” Black said with a laugh.

— SIU’s University Communications contributed to this story.


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