A SEIDO Day with Brazil's Consul-General

University students Andrew Davidson and Kasie Kelln took on an exciting challenge last May, assisting the University of Saskatchewan host Brazilian Ambassador Sergio Florencio during his visit to Saskatoon. The Consul-General flew from Vancouver to Saskatchewan, as a guest of the university to address its MBA students before their international business study tour to Brazil this upcoming June. Davidson and Kelln, both training in the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) offered through the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies, were invited by the university to help host and coordinate the Ambassador’s campus visit which included networking with many of the SEIDO Program’s government and corporate partners.

Kelln and Davidson first became involved with the Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program International Trade Officer Program out of their interest in international business and trade. The SEIDO Program provides University of Saskatchewan students with training and practice in a trade assistant role, similar to what functions might be expected of junior diplomat officers within Canadian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade. Partnered with the University of Saskatchewan’s International Office, 15 “SEIDO Student Officers” currently assist the university and its partner government agencies, helping in the logistics planning and reception of the many visiting international delegations to Saskatoon - including prestigious guests from foreign embassies and consulates.

“We had never done anything like this before,” says Kelln. “We had to learn how to make an agenda and host someone of this calibre as well as little things like how to set up a flag and who to call to get approval for different things.”

Davidson and Kelln were supported throughout by Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos, SEIDO Program Coordinator, and Leigh-Ellen Keating, Director of the University of Saskatchewan International Office. The International Office itself serves as the university ambassadorial arm, receiving annually more than 40 international delegations of all calibre. “We’re pleased to work with the SEIDO Program to facilitate some of our ambassadorial visits,” says Keating. “The centre opens up a new forum for interaction with our diplomatic guests which encourages student and community.”

“It was interesting having that link between the two offices, seeing how different organizations can work together to accomplish things,” Davidson agrees. To create an agenda for the Ambassador, Davidson and Kelln also worked closely with Sueli de Freitas, Secretary of the Brazilian Association of Saskatoon. “For the Brazilian community, it was a special treat to have a Brazilian authority visit Saskatoon,” says de Freitas. “Our members had the unique opportunity to meet, debrief and make suggestions to the Ambassador regarding the needs of Brazilian citizens living abroad.”

With de Freitas’ help, Florencio’s lecture to the MBA students was supplemented by Brazilian appetizers, music and dancing. “He also taught the MBA students a little bit of the Portuguese language,” Kelln remembers. “And they were able to ask a lot of questions before their trip.”

Kelln and Davidson made sure to schedule visits to areas Florencio would enjoy. “He was really interested in art and culture so we thought it would be cool to take him to Wanuskewin,” says Kelln. The Ambassador also toured the synchrotron at the University of Saskatchewan and met with the North Saskatoon Business Association.

“He was really excited for potential business ventures between Saskatchewan and Brazil because both of us are doing very well despite the recession,” says Kelln. And, indeed, Florencio’s visit to Saskatchewan has already proven beneficial. “These visits are very informative and usually create numerous opportunities,” de Freitas explains. “The Ambassador’s visit to the U of S resulted in several recommendations for mutual co-operation which were conveyed to the Brazilian Embassy in Ottawa.”

“It’s really cool that even though Andrew’s in kinesiology and I’m in medicine, we can still be involved in these kinds of things,” says Kelln. “That’s what’s really great about the Hanlon Centre. It reaches out to people all across campus who are interested in international studies.”

“It was an awesome experience,” Davidson agrees. “Everything I’ve done with the SEIDO Program has been a positive experience. I’ve learned so much and I’m a better person because of it.”

* Please note this article has been updated to reflect the new name change of the “Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program” (“SEIDO”), from its former program name as the “Saskatchewan International Trade Officer Program” (“SITO”).

The Saskatchewan Economic & International Development Officer Program (SEIDO) allows university/college and high schools throughout Saskatchewan the opportunity build global business knowledge, related skills development, and training opportunities for a career in global business, international trade and development. For more information, please contact Nicholas Kokkastamapoulos (SEIDO Program Coordinator) at the Haultain Institute for Global Business Studies at nick.kokkas@seidoprogram.org or nkokkas@haultaininstitute.org or by telephone at (306) 715-2260. Thank you.