Brazilian CCI Alumni Teach Free Classes to Close the Digital Divide in Underserved Communities

Two Community College Initiative (CCI) Program alumni are bridging the skills gap in their home country by teaching free courses in information technology and digital media.

Ana Laura Soares and Izaac Alves Mendes are classmates at Brazil’s Instituto Federal do Triângulo Mineiro (IFTM) who both participated in the 2018-19 CCI Program. Ana studied IT at Kirkwood Community College, and Izaac studied media at Houston Community College. Like many CCI participants, during their exchange year Ana and Izaac developed action plans – projects that use their expanded technical skills and professional capacities to improve their home communities.

Ana developed her vision for a project called IT for Girls that would teach the fundamentals of game development to teenagers, while Izaac created courses on video production and animation. Upon returning to Brazil last summer, the two partnered with IFTM to provide lab space, and they visited public schools in low-income neighborhoods of Patrocínio to recruit students.

IT for Girls

Throughout the fall semester, Ana taught weekly classes on Scratch – a platform that uses interactive stories and games to introduce programming skills – to about 17 students. “We want to help these girls to improve their careers and enhance confidence in their daily lives by increasing their knowledge about one of the most essential skills nowadays, digital literacy,” Ana wrote in a Facebook post about IT for Girls.

In addition support from IFTM faculty, Ana received mentorship from CCI alumnus Daniel da Silva Farias (Brazil, Fox Valley Technical College, IT, 2016-17), whose IT Prodigies program was featured in the CCI Global Impact video series. Ana’s students completed 12 classes, and she plans to continue the course in the spring semester.

Animation Classes

Izaac, meanwhile, taught weekly classes in basic through advanced animation to about 12 students. “I basically took everything I learned at (Houston Community College), and I’m applying it here in Brazil,” he said. The goal of the course, he added, is to expose underserved populations to new career areas and provide relevant job skills training.

Izaac’s students began at varying skill levels, with some having no prior experience using computers, but their enthusiasm is high. “It’s been awesome,” Izaac said. “The students love (Japanese anime), and they use them for inspiration and flood me with questions.” Izaac’s long-term vision is to start a training school for web development, animation, and English, where students eventually replace him as the teacher.

Ana and Izaac’s successes with their action plans exemplifies how CCI alumni use their enhanced professional skills to extend the impact of exchange programs to their home communities.

CCI alumna Ana Laura Soares (center) helps IT for Girls participants learn how to use the programming platform Scratch.

CCI alumna Ana Laura Soares (far right) with IT for Girls project participants.

CCI alumnus Izaac Alves Mendes (center) with his animation students in Brazil.

Posted in Action Plans, Alumni.