FIU to be honored for promoting Portuguese language, Brazilian culture

FIU will be honored with a Brazilian International Press (BIP) Award as an Outstanding Institution Promoting Portuguese Language at the Amaturo Theater in the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, May 4.

“This award has been around for 15 years and has presence in countries like Brazil, the U.S., Japan and the U.K.,” said Augusta Vono, the director of the Portugese Program at FIU. “This award is important because FIU will be promoted on an international scope. It’ll give more credibility to the program and expose us to the community of people that want to learn Portuguese or teach it to others.”

Every year, the BIP awards the persons, institutions and initiatives committed to promoting a positive image of Brazil and Brazilian culture worldwide. Areas such as marketing and business, media, music, art, philanthropy, social action, sports and education are recognized.

FIU was nominated by the members of the American Organization of Teachers of Portuguese, a non-profit organization that enhances and promotes the teaching of Portuguese by guiding teachers through the qualification process and providing them with professional development opportunities.

“As a language, Portuguese is becoming increasingly important on an international scale, especially in business and government,” Vono said. “More and more, the South Florida job market requires knowing three languages, English, Spanish and Portuguese. As Brazil’s economy and influence grows stronger, the need will be even greater.”

In 2010, FIU was acknowledged with a BIP Award in the Outstanding Contribution for the Portuguese Language in the United States of America category.

“Two years ago, FIU was part of a consortium of associations, language centers and K-12 schools that won that award,” Vono said. “But this is the first time that the university alone is being recognized for its efforts to teach Portuguese and promote the culture.”

The FIU Department of Modern Languages offers a major and minor in Portuguese, as well as a certificate in Portuguese Language and Brazilian Culture. While program content includes material on Portugal and its former colonies, it is designed for students with a special interest in the language and culture of Brazil.

“The study abroad component of the program is a great feature that gives a big boost to the level of proficiency. I’ve gotten student feedback that, after a month of intensive language training in Brazil, their lives change. They have a better idea of what they want to do with their careers and lives,” Vono said. “I have students that are non-majors and come from other fields, like math, psychology, biology and philosophy. It’s the love of the language and the love of the culture that brings these students to the program.”

The Department of Modern Languages also offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Wolof, as well as certificates in Court/General Interpretation, Translation Studies, Professional Language, and study abroad opportunities.