Atlanta deepens connections with Brazil for trade, academic exchange
By David Pendered
Signs of strengthening relations between Brazil and Atlanta continue to appear.
On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is to lead a seven-day trade mission to Brazil. Last week, Georgia State University and an educational initiative started by Fulton County Chairman John Eaves hosted more than 125 college students from Brazil who are studying STEM fields at colleges in Georgia.
Georgia and Brazil have maintained direct relations for more than 20 years. The state opened a trade office in Brazil in 1994 and the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce opened in Atlanta in 1996. Brazil opened a new consulate in Atlanta in 2008.
“I am confident that this trade mission to Brazil will strengthen Atlanta’s position as an international economic capital, expand opportunities for our businesses and foster job creation,” Reed said in a statement.
Eaves is equally confident that Atlanta will benefit from Brazilian collegiate recruitment program. Eaves contends it will increase the international reputation of participating Georgia technical schools, colleges and universities. Eaves co-hosted the GSU event through his role with the Atlanta Regional Education Consortium.
“The Atlanta region serves as a destination of choice for Brazilian students, and AREC aims to raise the profiles of our Georgia colleges and universities to offer full academic choices for these students once they have completed their IEP studies,” Eaves said in a statement. “Even though they are enrolled at a particular institution, it is important for the students to know they have broader opportunities and are a part of all of Georgia’s higher education units.”
The college program is the newest initiative in this ongoing relation. It’s part of Brazil’s effort to reduce a skills shortage in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math by sending students to noted universities around the world. The idea is they will return home and start a business.
The students who were hosted by Georgia State on March 31 attend GSU, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, Oglethorpe University, Mercer University and the University of Georgia.
Students seem to be enjoying and appreciating the experience, according to comments in a GSU statement.
“I am on cloud nine in Atlanta,” said Igor Assis, a nursing student at the Federal University of Bahia who’s enrolled in an intensive English program at GSU. “Georgia State has given me the opportunity to improve my English in this amazing city, and I look forward to moving here to pursue graduate studies in the future.”
Brazil’s government pays all costs to send about 100,000 students abroad, which enables students from all income levels to have a chance to study abroad.
The program also fits into Georgia State’s strategic plans to establish relations with universities in selected emerging markets including Brazil, China, Korea, South Africa, and Turkey. The purpose is to encourage research collaboration, faculty exchanges and student mobility, according to GSU’s statement.
“We were delighted to host our Brazilian students [and] look forward to helping them acculturate and thrive in their new Atlanta environment,” said Jun Liu, Georgia State’s associate provost for international initiatives. “We hope their presence will also energize our domestic students to pursue study abroad opportunities in Brazil and continue to enhance their global competency.”
Atlanta’s trade mission to Brazil is slated from Saturday through April 12. The purpose is to increase the level of Brazil’s foreign direct investment in Atlanta, and to promote trade opportunities, Brian McGowan, president/CEO of Invest Atlanta, said in the city’s statement.
According to Reed: “The objective of this trade mission to Brazil is threefold: help Atlanta-based companies position themselves in the Brazilian market; promote Atlanta to potential investors; and increase Atlanta’s visibility on the global stage.”
The list of elected officials slated to participate includes council President Caesar Mitchell, and councilmembers Keisha Bottoms, C.T. Martin, and Kwanza Hall.
The complete list of individuals and companies slated to attend is available here.