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World Cup event sparks international sports fervor at ASU

crowd of students attending ASU World Cup viewing party
June 20, 2014

Vuvuzelas echoed throughout the Tempe Sun Devil Fitness Complex as approximately 1,000 students from countries around the world gathered to watch the opening match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia.

Colors of the Brazilian flag were on bright display by students who wore yellow and green shirts as they gathered to watch wide-screen televisions throughout the complex and cheer their team on to victory.

Vanessa Berte was among the Brazilian students rooting for her home country. Originally from Francisco Beltrao, Brazil, she came to ASU through a Brazil Scientific Mobility Program scholarship. With career plans to become an environmental engineer, she plans to one day work for an international company and is enrolled in her first class at ASU about sustainable cities.

“It’s very interesting,” she said. “I like it very much here. Everything is very organized and works very well. The campus is really nice and beautiful.”

Engaging international students from countries such as Brazil, China and India, as well as other locations throughout the world is a multi-pronged effort at ASU that consists of activities such as the World Cup event, hosting international student organizations and university-wide initiatives that allow students to come to ASU from their home countries.

“We are proud that our engaged and participative international student community is empowered to create what they imagine, and learn how to develop a better future; their presence is integral to making our university a truly global community, both intellectually and culturally. Over 6,700 students from around the globe are currently earning degrees at ASU – this multiplicity of perspectives and experiences is what makes us so innovative and forward-thinking,” said César F. Flores, associate director of International Admission Services at ASU.

With students studying at ASU from more than 150 countries, ASU ranks third among 346 U.S. higher education institutions hosting Brazilian students as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) Scholarship, according to the Institute of International Education.

“The strong presence of Brazilian students enhances the rich diversity among the international population at ASU. Brazil is a country with ambitious goals that are supported by mobility programs such as BSMP and Brasilia Without Borders that broaden student experiences in the world and contribute significantly to their education,” said Julia Rosen, ASU associate vice provost and director of ASU’s Brazilian initiatives.

The instittue also named ASU’s American English and Culture Program the nation’s top English as a Second Language training program where students can improve their English language skills before enrolling in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program scholarship award.

A focus group conducted with program participants last year revealed that the students enjoyed their stay at ASU, and were surprised and delighted by the educational community’s friendliness and inclusiveness.

Prime examples are the variety of international student organizations at the university, including: Coalition of International Students; Fulbright International Student Association; Chinese Students and Scholars Association; Indian Students Association; Japanese Student Association; Kazakhstan Student Association; The Kuwaiti Club ASU; and other organizations from varied countries.

International students were excited to take part in an event such as the first World Cup match. Wenrui Zhang from Shang Hai, China, came to catch the action, albeit at a more reasonable hour than many of the people in China.

“Some people in China don’t sleep because they want to watch the game,” Zhang said.

Zhang found ASU online in China while searching for good schools with criminology and criminal justice programs. With a career goal of becoming a researcher or conducting crime data analysis, Zhang is grateful for the faculty and classmates in the program.

“It’s pretty cool,” Zhang said.

Iago Barros from El Salvador, Brazil, came to the event to watch Brazil score a win over Croatia. He is learning English through the American English and Culture Program and studying mechanical engineering at the university.

Meeting new people and making the transition to the university has been easy for him as he pursues his dream to one day work for a company in Brazil, perhaps a corporation that deals with automobiles. “I love cars,” he said.

Rafael Rodrigues from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was also among the students glued to the on-screen action. A nutrition, exercise and wellness major who came to ASU through the BSMP scholarship program, he is learning English through the American English and Culture Program at ASU as he works toward his career goal of becoming a university professor.

Rodrigues’ experience has been enhanced through faculty and staff who always show a willingness to help. Utilizing the university’s advanced technology is another advantage.

“I like everything here. ASU has great teachers,” he said.