University Celebrates the Launch of Brasilia Without Borders

Brazilian dignitaries, including Ambassador Mauro Vieira, and GW administrators encourage 385 Brazilian exchange students to join GW in “making history.”
Stage Brasilia
July 14, 2014

By Brittney Dunkins

The George Washington University hosted an opening ceremony on Monday in honor of students from Brasília who were selected to attend Brasília Sem Fronteiras, or Brasilia Without Borders— GW’s inaugural international academic exchange program in partnership with the government of the Federal District of Brazil.

“Making history is what GW and this program is all about,” Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman said, kicking off the event held at Lisner Auditorium. “Great universities and great programs change lives, open doors and improve the world. And that is what you are part of.”

Brasilia Without Borders is a four-week exchange experience designed by the GW Office of Summer and Special Programs to engage students from Brasília, the federal capital city of Brazil, in learning about civic engagement and leadership development through experiential learning.

A cohort of 335 high school and 50 college students were selected based on academic achievement from a pool of nearly 8,000 applicants.

"This is the latest in our university’s strong interest in, commitment to and relationship with Brazil," GW President Steven Knapp said. 


GW President Steven Knapp welcomed the students, Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S. Mauro Vieira, Federal District of Brazil Secretary of State Odilon Monteiro Frazão and District Deputy Israel Batista to the university and to D.C., the sister city of Brasília.

“This program is the latest in many expressions of our university’s strong interest in, commitment to and relationship with Brazil,” Dr. Knapp said. “It is certainly my hope that all of you will make the most of the opportunities that will be provided to you over the next month, both here at GW and in D.C. as a whole.”

Pre-college participants will study governance, civic engagement, development and sustainability, four core modules of a three-credit foundational course called “Leadership in a Transnational World,” led by Professor of Sociology Fran Buntman and cross-disciplinary faculty in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

I believe that this experience will make a difference in the future of both of our countries.” 

-Federal District of Brazil District Deputy Israel Batista

The college-level cohort will split into two groups of 25 students and participate in either a three-credit international business and marketing course led by GW School of Business Assistant Teaching Professor Anna Helm or a three-credit international law course led by Elliott School of International Affairs Adjunct Professor Joseph Rutigliano.

Amb. Vieira said that the program supports a larger initiative of the Brazilian government to encourage students to study at top-ranked universities around the world.

"I am certain that their positive experience in D.C. will have a multiplier effect in Brasília, the sister city and the capital of Brazil," Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S. Mauro Vieira said.


He called on the students to act as role models and to embrace the program as an opportunity to pursue their interests in various academic fields.

“For many of you, this is your first international experience,” Amb. Vieira said. “The program at GW will impact your lives and your communities in Brazil.”

Mr. Frazão echoed Amb. Vieira and said that he views the partnership as an opportunity to change the world through education.

"GW is truly committed to our future," Federal District of Brazil Secretary of State Odilon Monteiro Frazão said. 


“I have seen how committed GW is to Brazilian growth and to Brasilia Without Borders,” Mr. Frazão said. “This is a great opportunity for you. This is not just 30 days of experience here, it’s a life experience in 30 days.”  

The program’s academic curriculum will be underscored by experiential learning activities, including site visits to the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations and the Supreme Court.

In addition to GW faculty and administrators, students will also interact with notable guest speakers, including D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Executive Director for the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute Mary Ann Gomez, South African Ambassador to the United States Ebrahim Rasool and GW Executive Director of Sustainability Kathleen Merrigan.

“Today, we are a great institution that has the mission of creating visionaries for the U.S. and for the world,” Mr. Batista said. “The scientists, artists, engineers, politicians and teachers that graduate from GW will take their vision of the future with them.”

“I believe that this experience will make a difference in the future of both of our countries.”