Brazilians teach Portuguese in Egypt

15 de novembro de 2017

São Paulo – Two Brazilians have moved to Egypt two months ago to teach Portuguese. The São Paulo state-born Jacqueline Kaczorowski and Rio de Janeiro-born Renata Vieira were invited to teach at the Portuguese Literature and Language Department of Aswan University, in Aswan.

Renata has taught for seven years in Lebanon, at Saint Joseph University, and she was also a teacher and academic coordinator at the Brazil-Lebanon Cultural Center, which is linked to the Brazilian embassy in the country. Jacqueline has a degree in Language at São Paulo University (USP) and used to teach language and literature in Brazil.

The Egyptian university opened the course in 2015 and, every year, the Portuguese Department of the University issues a public notice for the hiring of professors of Portuguese, Literature, Culture or History according to the course’s needs. The public notice from which Jacqueline and Renata were selected dates from last year.

Jacqueline is teaching Portuguese, production of academic text genres and drama in Egypt, the latter focusing on the understanding of the Drama literary genre. “The experience in the university and the exchange with the students are very intense and a great challenge!”, she said to ANBA.

The Brazilian said that she was very well received by the students and faced a different cultural repertoire from the Brazilian and Western one. “Besides having the challenge of introducing certain issues, I also have the possibility of learning with the students from another point of view, with backgrounds that were developed in a world that was new to me! It’s very difficult, but also thought-provoking and fulfilling!,” said Jacqueline.

At 29 years old and born in São Bernardo do Campo, she has been focusing on literary studies since college. She was a literature teacher in private high schools, has taught Portuguese, Brazilian and, later, African literature, always connecting them with other areas such as history, social sciences and arts.

Jacqueline heard about the opportunity through the coordinator of Aswan’s Portuguese Language Department, Maged ElGebaly, with whom she had made professional contact. “Never having had a chance of leaving Brazil, I considered it a great opportunity to get in contact with a totally foreign language (and in African territory, which interested us even more),” she said.

She said that to find out she would be taking part in the formation of the first Bachelor’s Degree group in Portuguese Language and Literature in all of the Arab world made her even happier to be in the project. Jacqueline will be in Egypt until June of next year, and while she’s in the country she continues to work with a research group, in Brazil, on African literature in Portuguese.

Jacqueline said that she moved to Egypt open to experiences and in Aswan she found a different scenery from the vibrant São Paulo. The city is small and women without the veil attracts the attention in the streets, according to her. “Sometimes people want to take pictures with me, which I find very funny,” she jokes. Jacqueline says that everyone is very friendly and that they seem very happy when she says she’s Brazilian.

From Rio de Janeiro to Aswan

Renata also heard about the possibility of teaching classes in Egypt through her course’s coordinator. With a major in Languages and a master’s degree in literature, she researches issues such as immigration, identity and otherness, diversity in the reception of concepts, forms of resistance, fight and expression. “I believe that to experience the reality of other languages and cultures promotes an exchange so rich that one, at every moment, learns while teaching, as Guimarães Rosa said,” she told ANBA.

Renata had already been to Egypt and is teaching language studies, oral and written production, Portuguese history, poetry and contemporary narratives. “The personal and cultural background of the students, as well as their theoretical framework, are so unlike our Western and ‘Westernized’ imagination that it impacts all of our pedagogical perspective; not only due to us being in the Arab world, in the African continent, but also in a city that is not the capital,” says Renata.

She says that due to this, each class is a renewal of suppositions. “When you’re working with contemporary narratives, for instance, it’s necessary to pay extra attention. Nothing is obvious, and we should respect and interact with the local reality, beliefs, habits and traditions,” says Renata. The Brazilian also takes part in activities outside the university with the students and other teachers, and in cultural events attended by Brazilians or other foreigners in Egypt.

She is full of plans for Brazil-Egypt cultural relations and already noticed that there’s not a Brazilian cultural center in the Arab country. “I love challenges, the Arab world is within me (although she’s not directly of Arab origins), my greatest pleasure is to promote Brazilian culture and the culture of Portuguese-speaking communities throughout the world,” said Renata.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani