Until last week, Jeff Jochems had never stepped foot outside the U.S.
But now, the president of the OTC Richwood Valley campus can show a passport stamped with the country Brazil in it after spending a week in the South American country on a weeklong education mission representing the state’s community colleges.
“Brazil has a pretty robust university system, but it’s mostly private and is based on selective admissions. They don’t have anything like a community college at all. The country wants to expand opportunities for students in that area in addition to attracting U.S. students to their universities,” Jochems said before leaving for the trip Oct. 12.
A number of representatives from different universities and colleges, along with ministers of education, were planning to meet with Jochems and 10 other representatives of the state’s colleges and universities.
Jochems has been with OTC for 21 years and has been president of the Richwood Valley campus since 2011.
The group visited three Brazilian cities with anywhere from 15-20 meetings scheduled. Two of the cities will serve as venues for the Summer Olympics in 2016.
In addition to meeting Brazil’s education officials, the group was also scheduled to meet with officials from the U.S. ambassador’s office in Brazil.
“There was interest in having an education trip, and at the governor’s request, the main focus of this trip is education, although some representatives from the state’s Department of Economic Development are going, too,” Jochems said before the trip.
Being the only representative of the state’s community college system, Jochems said he was not sure what to expect in the way of questions from the representatives from Brazil.
“You never know what they may or may not bring up. It may surround the kind of training we offer at the community college level or what can be done from a cooperative aspect,” he said.
“They may want to know how we operate with an open admissions policy. I may get more about one area than the other. It will be interesting what kind of questions I get.”
Steve Koehler is coordinator of media services for Ozarks Technical Community College.
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