2018 Summer Internship Series: Donovan Hotz in Brazil

by: Donovan Hotz ’19

I spent the summer studying Portuguese in São Paulo, Brazil at the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP), a small private university in the center of the city. I was able to fund my tuition, travel, and living arrangements through IPED’s Language Immersion Study Award (LISA). I spent seven weeks studying at the University and living with a wonderful host family nearby. Taking classes during the day and spending the evenings with my host family discussing the news and watching telenovelas was a great experience and a fantastic opportunity to improve my spoken and written Portuguese. The program allowed me to advance fairly quickly having not had any spoken Portuguese experience and having only relied on self-study prior to the program. By the end of the program, I was able to achieve an intermediate level in spoken and written Portuguese.

The program consisted of 4-hour classes 5 days a week with practice in reading, writing, conversation, and prepared presentations. One class per week consisted of a cultural day in which we were able to practice the language outside of a formal class setting while doing activities like scavenger hunts in the neighborhood and going to museums. Aside from providing the opportunity to use the language in various contexts, the cultural days were also great conversation starters with my host family which consisted of my host parents, host sister, and four Brazilian college students that also lived with the family during the semester. My host family not only gave me tons of practice with the language, but also allowed me to learn about Brazilian society from different perspectives.

Donovan with his host family, and three Brazilian college students

My Portuguese language skills will further my career interests in economic development in Latin America. After having served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay I had developed strong skills in Spanish but wanted to pursue Portuguese as well given Brazil’s economic prominence in the region. The funding from LISA turned out to be the perfect opportunity for me to pursue this goal.