After saying goodbye to the rest of the American TGC Fellows, I set off for the city of Teresina, accompanied by Allison Weller, a history teacher from Long Island.
Teresina is the capital of the state of Piaui in the northeastern part of the country. It has a population of around 768,000 people, so it’s larger than Denver. It is famous for being the hottest city in Brazil. It is winter here in the Southern Hemisphere, so today’s high temperature of 91 degrees isn’t as unbearable as it will probably get in September.
According to the Lonely Planet Guide to Brazil, Teresina was founded in 1852 and was Brazil’s first planned city. It is an inland city, with two major rivers, The Poti River and the Parnaíba River. Though its economy is mostly made up of service and government jobs, with no major industries, education is valued here and there are many public and private schools and universities.
Our time here will be spent visiting different kinds of schools, both public and private. We’ll be sharing ideas with students and teachers – presenting workshops and presentations and talking about the American system of education. We hope to learn more about the Brazilian system and to spend time in classrooms with students of English.
Our host teacher for this adventure is Josélia Santos, an English teacher whose experiences abroad and excellent English skills make her the perfect person to introduce us to the life of a Brazilian teacher. She’s also great fun! Allison and I are lucky to be matched with her. Our home base is the Centro Cultural de Linguas (CCL), a public language school where students come to learn Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French.
Our first day in Teresina was spent getting oriented and meeting Josélia and Alex, her colleague at Centro de Linguas. Josélia and Alex were both 2009 particpants in the International Leaders in Education (ILEP) Program, another US State Department sponsored program that brings teachers to the US from around the world for a 5-month intensive course of study. https://www.irex.org/projects/ilep
Igreja de São Benedito
Our welcome dinner with Joselia and Alex at Seu Boteca
Palácio Karnak, the official building of the Governor of the state of Piaui
The next day we made our way to the Centro de Linguas, met the principal and were introduced to some of the language teachers. We stepped into several classes to introduce ourselves and talk about the Teachers for Global Classrooms program. This was a new experience for many of the students who had never before met American teachers. They wanted to know all about our time in Teresina and about our favorite movies and actors and books. Several students sang for us, and we had an impromptu lesson in dancing the Forró, a popular dance in the Northeast.
We got to drive around Teresina in the afternoon and visited a park at the confluence of the two rivers, the Poti and the Parnaíba. We visited pottery shops and watched artisans sculpt and put together their creations.
Back at school we visited more classrooms and then left for a weekend adventure in Parnaíba, a coastal town that is a popular vacation destination for residents of Teresina. A five hour drive got us there in time for a pleasant dinner near the river where a band played some Brazilian oldies that Josélia said reminder her of her father.