Brazilian Students Network at National Summit
International students represent approximately 20% of the Grinnell student body. By sharing their culture and different worldviews, they contribute to diversity on campus and broaden other students’ horizons. This sharing can be enhanced when international students from similar countries work together. The Wilson Center for Innovation and Leadership sponsored ten Brazilian students to attend this year’s BRASA Summit, a two-day annual conference that gathers Brazilian college students studying outside their country and influential leaders to discuss some of the country’s main issues and to debate solutions.
Marina Ananias ’26 describes the event as including talks, hands-on challenges, a career fair, and many other networking opportunities. “We discussed urgent challenges in Brazil through panels about politics, the economy, entrepreneurship, and sports. We also had the chance to speak more in-depth about these topics during smaller group talks.”
"I did not know what to expect going into this experience," says Ana Beatriz Fernandes Costa ’25, "I was nervous and excited.” Considering the presidential elections and “the climate of uncertainty back home” in Brazil, participants from Grinnell felt attending as a group was especially important. Many of Grinnell’s Brazilian students participated in their country’s election process this fall, and they met regularly on campus to discuss the potential impact of the election outcome.
Networking and making connections were among the highlights of the conference. "Talking to the companies and graduate schools present at the career fair was essential for me to better reflect on my next steps in and after college as a leader and innovator," explains Ananias. Networking may also lead to future opportunities for the students. That was the case for Fernandes Costa, who plans to apply for a summer internship she learned about at the career fair.
“This conference was a place to share ideas and get help, and I learned a lot,” reveals Patrick Sales Garcia ’25. “For example, I learned how to start my own project, who to look for when doing so, and the most important things to take into consideration when working with a group. Currently, I have a project in mind, something that might require a group to help me out. Thanks to my experience at the conference, I already have thoughts on where to start.”
The BRASA Summit theme for this year was protagonism, “showcasing how Brazilians are currently leading in their areas of expertise and how we, as the younger generation, can build our own legacy,” says Carolina Klauck Novaes ’23.
Attendees kept in mind links between the event’s theme of protagonism and the leadership/innovation goals of Grinnell College’s Wilson Center, which sponsored their trip to the summit. Klauck Novaes notes, “Through different panels and workshops, the conference showed us successful examples of leadership and gave us the tools and the inspirations to become leaders on our own.” Ananias adds, “Not only the event, but BRASA as an organization aims to empower the next generation of Brazilian leaders by helping us recognize and be confident about our abilities. To innovate and lead, we need to trust ourselves and be the protagonists of our own stories.”
New friends met at the conference “each brought a unique story and exemplified leadership, and will no doubt be at the forefront of science production, political leadership, and innovation,” remarks first-year student Luis Felipe Koehler Domingues ’26. “They inspire me to create a story of my own, and I know that our collaboration is essential to the future we strive for.” Reflecting on the conference, he found it to be “a hugely enriching experience” that allowed him become “more aware of [his] own potential to generate change and innovate.”
Ananias concludes, “Overall, I felt that the event was a call to action.”