At first glance, it would be easy to mistake Pedro Henrique De Cristo for just another Yale student walking into the University Career Services office.
In fact, the 25-year-old graduate of the Federal University of Paraiba has just arrived for an interview with the News to describe his role in founding the brand-new Bulldogs in Brazil internship program, being offered for the first time this summer. De Cristo, who is also a recognized governmental reformer in his home country, is visiting the University this week to discuss and publicize the program.
The Bulldogs program, which is based in the city of Joao Pessoa, Brazil, will include jobs such as interns in environmental sustainability and human development consultants. And De Cristo and UCS are currently exploring the possibility of including graduate students in the program.
De Cristo’s relationship with Yale began a little over a year ago, when he visited the University as a representative of Partners of the Americas, a Washington, D.C.-based NGO dedicated to forming meaningful alliances between North and South America. The original intention of De Cristo’s visit to Connecticut was to form a sister-city bond between Hartford and his home city of Joao Pessoa. But, during a visit to Yale, De Cristo met Joao Aleixo, assistant director at the University’s Office of International Affairs, who monitors relations between Yale and Latin America. The pair organized the first-ever Yale Week in Brazil early last summer, during which residents of Sao Paulo, Brazil attended Yale faculty lectures, admissions events and alumni get-togethers in their hometown.
Before meeting De Cristo, Aleixo was wary of outreach in Brazil, especially its large cities, primarily for safety reasons.
“I had always wanted a program in Brazil,” Aleixo said. “But after Yale Week in Brazil, I began to learn more.”
But Joao Pessoa, the location of the new UCS internship program — which is recognized as the second-greenest city in the world, according to the UN — is “a very safe city,” Aleixo and De Cristo said.
De Cristo said all job positions are in line with the United Nations’ 8 Millennium Development Goals, which seek to provide concrete improvements to the lives of the world’s poorest citizens by a target date of 2015.
Along with the new location, the Bulldogs in Brazil program may introduce new access to internships for more Yale students. In the hope of opening up the program to graduate students, Jones and De Cristo have spent the past week meeting with the dean of Public Health and representatives at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences.
“Historically, these programs have been for undergraduates,” Jones said. “What we are increasingly trying to do is cross-fertilize.”
Despite being separated by continental barriers, Jones and De Cristo have worked closely over the course of the last year to develop the Bulldogs in Brazil program. Jones explained that past problems have resulted because expectations for International Bulldogs programs have been misunderstood by hosts, students or both.
“We met with everybody, and everybody was clear on what they wanted and on what the reporting structure would be,” he said. “Of all the countries where we have worked, this has probably been the smoothest program that we have set up, and large responsibility for that goes to Pedro.”
Aleixo has also been deeply impressed by his work with De Cristo.
“He has been phenomenal to work with. He’s a very young guy and extremely hands on,” said Aleixo. “In addition to all his other work, he has also been establishing an NGO called Emancipation.”
Emancipation is dedicated to engaging in local sustainable development projects in the Joao Pessao area.
De Cristo spoke at both the UCS summer options presentation and the Dwight Hall Bazaar on Thursday.