Campus: California State University, Fullerton -- December 19, 2005
Brazilian Students Learn About the OC and U.S. While Studying at CSUF
Like many of their Cal State Fullerton classmates, Felipe Ribeiro and
Josias Xavier will be heading home for the holidays.
They’ll just be traveling close to 6,000 miles to get there.
Ribeiro and Xavier, a pair of Brazilian exchange students, will conclude
their stay in America when they return to Brazil Dec. 22.
The duo has spent the fall semester at CSUF as part of a new student
exchange program among Cal State Fullerton, the University of Connecticut
and two Brazilian universities. The program, centered on coastal marine
management, will see six CSUF students venture to Brazil in the spring.
Future faculty exchanges also are being planned.
“There are so many different ramifications of international studies,”
said geography professor Robert A. Voeks, who traveled to Brazil in
July with Steven Murray, dean of the university’s College of Natural
Sciences and Mathematics, to help spearhead the program.
“I think people here have perceptions about students from foreign
countries, and once our students get a chance to experience and become
exposed to international students, some of those [perceptions] begin
to go away. It’s very beneficial for both the students and faculty
Ribeiro, a 21-year-old sophomore from Universidade Federal Fluminense,
and Xavier, a 22-year-old senior at Universidade Federal Da Paraiba,
live together in the campus residence halls with four other roommates.
The biological science majors both said that prior to their arrival
on campus, their perceptions of America came primarily from pop culture.
In fact, once they found out they were headed to California, they said
they started watching the TV show “The OC,” in hopes of
learning about the region.
“Our knowledge of the U.S. is mainly from movies, and it’s
very interesting to see things here that you see in the movies,”
said Xavier, whose Brazilian girlfriend, Sofia Gomez, also is participating
in the program at the University of Connecticut this semester.
“But I’ve been involved with so many nationalities here,
and it’s good to see so many people with so many different types
Xavier and Ribeiro said university life at CSUF is far different from
their Brazilian universities. They said most Brazilian students live
alone or with someone they’ve known for a long time and rarely
have cars. There also are no fraternities and no intercollegiate athletics.
Their coursework in Brazil is focused primarily on lecture and theory,
and they rarely get the opportunity to do fieldwork or research outside
of class. Xavier and Ribeiro noted that the resources available to American
students are far greater here than in Brazil.
”I came here expecting to see a lot of technology and money, and
that’s what I’ve found,” said Ribeiro. “What
I didn’t expect is that the university makes sure we’re
in contact with scientific research, and then you choose whether you
want to become involved.”
Each is taking 12 hours of coursework, and both say their favorite class
is marine phycology. Jayson R. Smith, lecturer in biological science,
teaches the course and said Xavier and Ribeiro have definitely developed
a bond with their American peers both inside and outside of the classroom.
“I see them talking with other students all the time about what
it’s like [in Brazil],” said Smith. “They get along
great with the students we’re sending down to Brazil and have
kind of taken it upon themselves to mentor them and tell them what to
expect when they get down there.
“I hear about the places they’ve gone and who’s taking
them there, and it’s always somebody different. I think people
are taking the effort to expose them to our culture.”
Photo: A high-resolution image of Felipe Ribeiro and
Josias Xavier can be downloaded from the university website at www.fullerton.edu/news/newsphotos.
Media Contacts: Steven Murray, College of Natural
Sciences and Mathematics, (714) 278-2838
Robby Nisenfeld, Public Affairs, (714) 278-3798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.