What can Brazilian teachers learn from Ontario colleges? Dozens are in London, Niagara to find out

Dozens of Brazilian teachers have made the 7,000-kilometer trip to Ontario to learn about Canada’s education system as part of teacher training at Fanshawe College in London and Niagara College.

“In Canada, we are learning another way to see people around us, and that’s a great thing so far,” Debora Menezes, an elementary special education teacher from Brasília, said about her time at Fanshawe College.

Just a few weeks since arriving in London, visiting libraries, museums, markets and festivals, she’s noticed how community-oriented things are here, she said.

“These differences here are going to improve the way we are helping children to see the world in the future, so it’s a great experience.”

group of four people play a game inside
Teachers from Brazil participate in an educational activity at the London Public Library’s Central branch on Tuesday. (Michelle Both/CBC)

There are 47 teachers in London as part of the eight-week Brazilian Basic Education Teachers program, a partnership involving Colleges and Institutes of Canada and the Brazilian government.

Brazilian educators will be in London until the end of July, according to Marilia Brasil, program coordinator at Fanshawe College.

Niagara College said its program for 49 educators began May 25 and runs to July 21.

‘A dream come true’

On Tuesday, teachers gathered at the London Public Library’s Central branch to learn from community partners as part of their training.

They’re learning about Canada’s education system and the network of organizations that assist teachers, schools and students into creating inclusive learning environments, said Brasil.

“Hopefully [they] take great ideas back home to enhance the education system there,” said Brasil, who’s originally from Brazil and has been working at Fanshawe for seven years.

a woman with long brown hair stands in front of books in a library
Marilia Brasil is Fanshawe College’s program coordinator for the Brazilian Basic Education Teachers program, an eight-week training in partnership with the Brazilian government. (Michelle Both/CBC)

For some of the visiting educators, it’s their first time leaving Brazil, she said. Some work with youth in prisons, and others take boats to teach children along the Amazon River or work in community and special education centers — all from different regions across the South American country.

“It can benefit friends, family and many, many children who wouldn’t have opportunities,” Brasil said, allowing teachers to learn more about things happening around the world.

For Daniel Brisolara, a high school philosophy teacher from Ceará, Brazil, being here is a “dream come true.”

man stands in Library
Daniel Brisolara is a high school philosophy teacher from Ceará, Brazil. He says it’s a ‘dream come true’ to be in London, Ont. (Michelle Both/CBC)

Studying English, visiting schools, and learning about education and Canadian culture has been an “amazing opportunity,” he said.

Brisolara is also working on a project to create a debate group in his city, and will learn ways to improve it as part of the training.

His time in London has already left an impression.

“It’s a wonderful city,” he said. “People here are very kind… I like this community spirit.”

Brisolara still has a lot on his bucket list — from going to more museums and a basketball game, to attending English conversation circles.

woman in purple shirt and braids stands in front of a teal wall
During her time in London, Ont., Sandra Lee, a Portuguese teacher from Bahia, Brazil, is focusing on developing her skills teaching reading to improve her students’ abilities. (Michelle Both/CBC)

Sandra Lee, a Portuguese teacher from Bahia, Brazil, said she’s here to learn more about improving reading skills and about the education system in Canada.

People have helped her learn so much here, she said.

“I’m here for professional development and I’m so happy to be here.”

Connecting across a global perspective

This is the second time the program has been running since its launch in 2019, said Candace Miller, Fanshawe College’s executive director of business development and strategic support.

“We’re very excited to welcome back our Brazilian friends and teachers,” Miller said.

It gives an opportunity to share cultural differences and similarities between Canada and Brazil — and an opportunity to connect with one another in a global perspective, he said.

a group of people sit inside on library steps
Nearly 50 teachers from Brazil toured the London Public Library’s Central branch Tuesday, June 13 as part of an eight-week education training program through Fanshawe College. (Submitted by Marilia Brasil)

The program includes two weeks of English as a second language (ESL) training, and two weeks of experiential learning visiting different sites, along with field trips to elementary and high schools, and teacher training.

“They’ll be able to talk to public school teachers from here and in London to learn about techniques and things that happen in the school,” said Brasil.

They’re also visiting schools, day cares, museums and libraries.

“They’re really enjoying the experience. If you see them around, please welcome them and tell them how our community is strong and supportive,” said Brasil.

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