Visiting the Porto Alegre BNC was a lot like visiting home. It was the first BNC I worked with and it set the pattern for what I think of them. Since I have indeed written about BNCs on several occasions, I refer you to those entries for some of the general details about BNCs. Suffice to say that I am very fond of BNCs and consider them one of the best ways for us to reach youth in Brazil.
Porto Alegre presents a bit of a challenge, since they have subcontracted their English teaching to a private firm. They still run to operation; they do cultural programs, youth ambassador selections & the other things we value in BNCs. Beyond that, they have the tradition of being a BNC and a board of directors well connected with the local community. I wonder if this kind of hybrid organization will become more common and there could be a time when the definition of BNC is lost. If you look to goals, does the exact method matter?
One of the women at the BNC remembered when I used to do lectures at there. We did a lot of things with the BNC in those days. I remember our old friend and first consul George Lannon when they showed me the auditorium. We did a cowboy film festival there. It was low budget but very popular. All we did was show a different cowboy movie every week. George would tell something about the film and the director. This was something he knew and had a passion about. We started with “Stage Coach” directed by John Ford. This is the film that made John Wayne a star. We featured several John Wayne films, as befits a Western series. The one I appreciated the most was “the Searchers.” I think we ended with “Cheyenne Autumn,” also directed by John Ford, but not featuring John Wayne. You don’t need a lot of money to do a good program. Usually, 90% of success is just showing up.
Curitiba BNC called “Inter” is doing better now after going through hard times ten years ago. They now have around 3,500 students at any one time. They had more in the past, but the good news is that the numbers are growing. Inter has six satellite campuses, including a fast growing operation at one of the local shopping centers.
In addition to teaching English to Brazilians, Inter teaches Portuguese to foreigners, mostly MBA students working on doing business in Brazil programs at ISAE/Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Curitiba. FGV currently has nineteen students learning Portuguese at the BNC.
I wrote about FGV in São Paulo in other posts. The one in Curitiba is also impressive. They have partnerships with Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, George Washington University and the University of Cincinnati. I have been extremely impressed with the people at FGV whenever I have met them. I am glad that we can work with them on many occasions.
My picture at top show part of the library at the BNC in Curitiba. Below that is FGV. The last picture is the old army HQ in PAO, recently restored. It has nothing to do with the article, but I thought it was a nice picture. The colors were good.