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African Students Thrive in Brazil

  • Nicolas Pinault

Brazil is not only a dream destination for soccer fans from all over the world. The emerging power is also receiving more and more students from Africa. The country is more accessible than the U.S. or Europe, and African students can find better infrastructure here than they can at home.

With almost 40,000 students, the University of Brasilia is an institution in Brazil's capital city. Among them are a hundred or so Africans who came to try the Brazilian adventure. Most of them are from Angola or Cape Verde, but you also find some Francophones from Ivory Coast and Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Here you have more facilities for the students, like the library," said Congolese student Morgan Tshipampa Nganga Mayoyi. "Many other things you do not have at UNIKIN [University of Kinshasa]. The Brazilian government also helps the students with grants. So we have better conditions here than in Congo."

These young people came to find opportunities. The United States or Europe are often inaccessible. Brazil, as an emerging power, is more appealing, even though Portuguese is the first language. To get a visa for Brazil, African students are obligated to return home after they graduate. This does not prevent them from fitting in.

"They [Brazil] were colonized by the Portuguese, but they have many African roots," said Congolese student Ursila Manga Aridja. "So it was very easy to feel integrated, make friends, learn the language. So I am OK, no problem."

Although this Brazilian adventure has many advantages, home-sweet-home is always on their moinds, and they miss their families. They will spend several years without seeing them.

"I miss Kinshasa so much…I have been here a year-and-a-half," said Congolese student Jacques Kenemo Shako. "It is not easy with family, to live far away from them, Mummy, Daddy. I miss them so much even if we communicate with phone calls, but it is expensive."

Many swear they will go back home after their studies, though with no guarantee that Africa will offer the same opportunities. But these young people want to succeed in their country, and look at the future with an optimism they have found among Brazilians.

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