Brazilian Police Captain Etiene Martins has just returned to work after two weeks improving his English for free in London.
Captain Martins won a Let Your English Grow scholarship with English UK member Excel English. He hopes the opportunity will help him in his ambition to get a higher degree in international law, and work for his country.
"I could not have done this without Let Your English Grow," he says. "It was really a victory for me. It will be so important for my career." Etiene, 29, is probably one of the most unusual winners so far.
As a teenager, he was keen to do a law degree. But his father, a hot-dog seller, advised him to join the police and then work his way through university with a secure job.
Once he finished at the Police Academy, he won a place studying law at a university in Rio de Janeiro, where he works.
He also began studying English, because he was interested in the language. Once his bosses became aware that Etiene spoke English, he was transferred to the city’s tourist police division.
When Etiene graduated from university, his job changed again. His degree in law means the police wanted him working in their legal department.
Now he hopes to study for a Masters and possibly a doctorate in international law. He has won a Fulbright scholarship which would fund his preparations to study at a US university, but he is also interested in returning to the UK.
His ambition is to work for the Brazilian government, perhaps as a diplomat or in its relations with the South American common market. "My ambition is to put something back to my country. They invested in me. I am a Catholic and I see all this as a gift from God," he says.
Etiene really enjoyed his time in London. "I could not have come here without the scholarship. I am so grateful.
"My English has improved. Before, it was difficult to express feelings and ideas. The staff were fantastic, and very friendly and supportive.
"From what I had heard in Brazil I didn’t expect a warm welcome in Britain, but if you don’t know something everyone will try to help you. People are very friendly – quite different to what I had heard."
He added: "London was fantastic. I loved it so much. I went to the National Gallery, the British Museum, and found a very interesting presentation on Mozart and Handel at a church. It was totally unexpected. If you have nothing to do in London, walk around the city – you will find something to do."
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