Critical Language Scholarship Program | Max Courval
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Max Courval

Max Cour­val is an alum­nus of the 2020 CLS Por­tuguese vir­tu­al insti­tute host­ed by Uni­ver­si­ty of the South of San­ta Cata­ri­na in Flo­ri­anópolis, Brazil. He grad­u­at­ed in May 2020 from Ari­zona State Uni­ver­si­ty, where he majored in geog­ra­phy with minors in Span­ish and urban plan­ning as well as earn­ing cer­tifi­cates in Brazil­ian stud­ies and geo­graph­ic infor­ma­tion sci­ence. Cur­rent­ly, he works as a Trans­porta­tion Per­for­mance and Plan­ning Intern at Mari­co­pa Asso­ci­a­tion of Gov­ern­ments. In the fall, he will begin his master’s in Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah and con­tin­ue to study Por­tuguese lan­guage and Brazil­ian cul­ture as a For­eign Lan­guage and Area Stud­ies Grad­u­ate Fel­low.

Get­ting to Know Max

I grew up in the sub­urbs of Phoenix, Ari­zona. I love danc­ing, cook­ing and try­ing new recipes. Both my sis­ter and I are adopt­ed. While I was adopt­ed here in Ari­zona, my younger sis­ter was adopt­ed from Hunan province, China. 

Why Por­tuguese?

Born and raised in Ari­zona, Latin Amer­i­ca was intrin­si­cal­ly inter­twined with the his­to­ry and civ­i­liza­tions of my home state. While my Span­ish lan­guage skills allow me to inter­act with and study much of the region, one in two South Amer­i­cans speak Por­tuguese. I had always been inter­est­ed in learn­ing about Brazil­ian cul­ture and Por­tuguese lan­guage and CLS made that a real­i­ty for me. 

Span­ning Latin Amer­i­ca, Africa, Europe and even Asia, learn­ing Por­tuguese opens doors to oppor­tu­ni­ties across the globe. I love learn­ing Por­tuguese because there are so many words that do not have a direct trans­la­tion. One of my favorite words is cafuné, the act of run­ning your fin­gers through your loved one’s hair, like when your mom is com­fort­ing you to sleep in bed. 

Future Pur­suits

Obtain­ing a master’s degree in Latin Amer­i­can stud­ies will allow me to syn­the­size my inter­dis­ci­pli­nary inter­ests in cul­tur­al stud­ies, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, and human geog­ra­phy. I hope to con­tin­ue fur­ther­ing my edu­ca­tion and work towards a PhD in a relat­ed field. 

I will con­tin­ue tak­ing Por­tuguese lan­guage and Brazil­ian cul­ture class­es dur­ing my grad­u­ate stud­ies. I am tak­ing advan­tage of oth­er fel­low­ships like FLAS that will fund my edu­ca­tion and pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties to study abroad in Brazil in the future. I also plan to use my Por­tuguese lan­guage skills in future research. Pro­fes­sion­al­ly, I strive to work in a posi­tion that val­ues my lan­guage skills and cul­tur­al knowl­edge, such as a Con­sular Fel­low in Brazil. 

Cul­tur­al Exchange on a Vir­tu­al Pro­gram

While my pro­gram was vir­tu­al and I could not trav­el to Flo­ri­anópo­lis in per­son, some of my favorite mem­o­ries includ­ed vir­tu­al hang­outs with my lan­guage part­ner, Déb­o­ra. She showed me pho­tos of her home­town, took pic­tures when she went to her local super­mar­ket, and told me all about the best places to eat. While we were both stuck at home, it still felt like I was trav­el­ing the world! We keep in touch on social media and we have a shared bond over our love of pop music, both Brazil­ian and American. 

Ari­zona is my home, and I was excit­ed to share the beau­ty and her­itage of my state with my teach­ers and friends and also find com­mon­al­i­ties with my host com­mu­ni­ty. Ari­zona is a prime exam­ple of the demo­graph­ic shifts in Amer­i­can soci­ety occur­ring today. As part of the Sun Belt, many Amer­i­cans have moved here for jobs, hous­ing and qual­i­ty of life. In the past cen­tu­ry, Phoenix has trans­formed from a small agri­cul­tur­al town into of the largest metrop­o­lis­es in the US, sur­pass­ing over 5 mil­lion inhab­i­tants. Giv­en the recent explo­sion in pop­u­la­tion, my lan­guage part­ner and teach­ers were not as famil­iar with the region and I took advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty to famil­iar­ize them with our desert community. 

My vir­tu­al CLS expe­ri­ence was just as impact­ful as my oth­er expe­ri­ences study­ing abroad in-per­son. I advanced my lan­guage abil­i­ties and cre­at­ed a net­work of peers and men­tors across the US and Brazil. When inter­na­tion­al trav­el and aca­d­e­m­ic exchanges resume, I will be more pre­pared than ever. 


Alumni Profiles

Max Courval
Max Courval
Portuguese 2020
Florianópolis, Brazil

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Posted Date

May 10, 2021