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Testimonial from Alumna and English Teaching Assistant, Calla Sneller

Calla Sneller is an Ohio State alumna and an English Teaching Assistant with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, who spent two years teaching in Brazil. 

During my two years living and working in Brazil, I relished the opportunity to not only develop professionally but personally as well. I started my journey in Uberaba, Minas Gerais, where I worked as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at the federal university. Uberaba is a small city in the heart of rural Brazil. While there, I took advantage of the wonderful churrasco, warm and welcoming people and the opportunity to make an impact in my community and with my students. As an Ohio State alumna and Ohio resident, I felt right at home in this setting and loved learning about the subtle cultural differences present in my new life.

At the university, I planned and conducted engaging lessons and facilitated conversation clubs, including “Snack and Chat” where my students utilized casual English and tried new foods from the United States. Part of our grant involved creating a side project to engage with our community outside of the university. At the local bi-national Brasil USA center, I led workshops on U.S. art, music and holidays in and recruited students to attend the EducationUSA College fair in São Paulo. One of my fondest memories was watching the students’ eyes widen in awe as we pulled into São Paulo and spent hours exploring American colleges and speaking with representatives. One of my students told me that he now felt like “the world was his oyster,” a phrase I had taught him.

Upon moving to São Paulo for my second year working as a Fulbright ETA and now mentor to 10 new ETAs, my world and vision of Brazil also expanded. I fell in love with the fast paced, graffiti filled and sprawling expanse of a city. Working at the University of São Paulo, I took full advantage of the myriad classes that invited us to participate, including classes on semantics, international relations and writing.

São Paulo also offered endless opportunities for side projects, and I eagerly continued my project with EducationUSA and began working with the Ohio State Brazil Gateway and a Center for Children and Adolescents (CCA) in a local favela. At CCA, I combined English classes with physical education; leading a running club and teaching the younger students recess games from my childhood. I relished interacting with younger students and increasing their access to English education and new cultures.

One of the most rewarding experiences of my time in Brazil was working with Luke and Jane at the Ohio State Brazil Gateway. From the first year I was in Brazil, Luke made it a point to get in touch with the Ohio State alumni in my program and to treat us to a taco dinner in São Paulo. This little taste of home was just what I needed! After moving to the city, I enjoyed learning about the internationalization of higher education, planning workshops about Ohio State admissions and cultivating connections between USP, EducationUSA and Ohio State. Working with the Ohio State Brazil Gateway was truly a full circle experience, bringing my own education to life and allowing me to apply it to my Fulbright experience. Brazil is such a diverse, expansive and vibrant country and Ohio State is lucky to have such a dedicated team working to create connections there.

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