By Alfredo Ramirez
Master’s Student in International Studies
I am a graduate student in the International Studies master’s program and a Boren Fellow. My Boren Fellowship has given me the amazing opportunity to study Portuguese in Brazil for the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 academic year. In preparation, I also attended a six-week intensive Portuguese program at the Summer Languages Institute at the University of Chicago. I am using a blog to document my experiences in Brazil as part of my work with the graduate program at the Center for International Studies at Texas State University.
I am currently staying in the city Florianópolis, the capital of the state of Santa Catarina, with a population of around 500,000 people and estimated total metropolitan area of over 1 million. My host institution here is the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), a top Brazilian institution and one of several universities in the city. It has over 35,000 students enrolled in 106 undergraduate degree programs, 82 master’s degree programs, and 55 doctoral degree programs. This makes for a vast and vibrant academic community which I very much appreciate. My studies are organized through a Texas State University study abroad affiliate, called the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), who has a student exchange agreement with UFSC. This means that while I am here, I am a guest student of UFSC and can utilize the on-campus restaurant, library, computer labs, and other services.
Florianópolis is known throughout South America for its natural beauty. The city is situated on a sub-tropical island connected to the mainland by bridge. There are endless opportunities for beautiful hikes, world-class surfing, boating tours, fishing, trail runs, sandboarding, scuba, etc. My time will be divided between language study, cultural immersion, and language practice while interacting with all the various natural wonders.
While I am here, I am available to the Texas State community and will be more than happy to take questions on anything related to living, learning, culture, business, or day-to-day activities that I can research for you while in Brazil:
By Raymond D. De Leon
Master’s Student in Criminal Justice
Growing up in a working class family, there were many places I saw in books and magazines that I dreamed of one day visiting. Brazil topped the list as one of those destinations, but I never thought I would actually ever get to go. So when the opportunity came to take part in a study abroad trip to Brazil, I couldn’t pass it up.
I, along with six other students from the School of Criminal Justice, spent ten days in Brazil. It was an amazing experience, not only for the educational and cultural value, but also because it was my first time out of the country.
The first portion of our trip was spent in the city of Belo Horizonte. We had the opportunity to attend seminars at the University Federal de Minas Gerais led by criminal justice researchers that are influencing public policy on a variety of issues, including jail overcrowding, the juvenile justice system, and data collection. We also visited one of their police stations and their juvenile justice center and witnessed a jury selection for an attempted murder trial.
Another highlight of the trip was visiting several favelas. Favelas are lower socioeconomic neighborhoods in Brazil that often sit side by side more affluent neighborhoods. In Belo, the favela of St. Lucia, where there is a high rate of homicide, the organization Fica Vivo (Stay Alive) targets young men ages 12-24 (the at-risk demographic) to get involved in sports and art activities instead of gangs. In Rio de Janeiro, the favela of Babilona is dealing with gentrification as the rising cost of living in Rio is causing many middle-class families to move into the favelas, displacing many longtime residents.
While the entire trip is one I will never forget, visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer was number one on my list. To be able to see with my own eyes this amazing figure that oversees all of Rio de Janeiro is something I cannot fully describe in words. I highly encourage everyone reading this to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. This trip has given me the travel bug, and I look forward to taking many more trips in the near future.
By Zane Wubbena
Doctoral Candidate in School Improvement
Front to back: Zane Wubbena, Angie Wang and Peter McLaren at the Vault Kitchen and Market in Savannah, GA
On February 25, 2017, I presented a paper titled “Visually Framing a Pedagogy for Space during the 2011 Chilean Student Movement” (forthcoming in Policy Futures in Education) at the 5th Annual Critical Media Literacy Conference held in Savannah, GA. Without the financial assistance of the Graduate Student Travel Funds, my attendance at this conference would not have been possible.
Academic conferences provide invaluable opportunities for encounters that enrich academic experiences beyond the university. For example, I was able to speak at great length with Peter McLaren, a world-renowned critical scholar and one of the founders of critical pedagogy (along with Paulo Freire and Henri Giroux). Dr. McLaren is currently a Professor of Critical Studies at Chapman University and Co-Director of The Paulo Freire Democratic Project. He is also Emeritus Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Miami University of Ohio. The dinner, lasting for over three hours, was filled with scholarly debate and collaboration.
Experiences like this one not only provide opportunities for academic socialization, they also open possibilities for intellectual encounters that could not have been otherwise planned or expected. I am deeply thankful for the financial assistance provided by the Graduate Student Travel Funds at Texas State University.