A Student Perspective: Meeting the Brazilian Youth Ambassadors

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WRITTEN BY

Allie Krumel
Nov 20, 2014


TOPIC
Culture, Student Life

A Student Perspective: Meeting the Brazilian Youth Ambassadors

Brazilian Youth Ambassadors join Fall 2014 students and faculty on a visit to the Santa Marta community.
Brazilian Youth Ambassadors join Fall 2014 students, faculty, and staff on a visit to the Santa Marta community.

Semester at Sea was proud to host five Brazilian students onboard the MV Explorer during the ship’s transit from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador. These youth ambassadors engaged voyagers in a variety of presentations, language workshops, and field programs all designed to teach Brazilian culture. I was happy to get to know these students and show them what life was like aboard the MV Explorer, while also learning about the two beautiful cities we were visiting in Brazil.

I was able to have lunch with two of the Brazilian student ambassadors, Lais Barbosa and Valmir Dias. Barbosa and Dias are college students at universities in Rio and Salvador; Barbosa is studying medicine while Dias is studying foreign affairs. They told me all about the Youth Ambassador program, which is a program through the U.S. Consulate that allows high-achieving Brazilian students to go to the United States to study for two months each year. The Youth Ambassador program was also the reason they had the opportunity to sail with Semester at Sea.

During their favela visit, youth ambassadors and Fall 2014 voyagers met with locals to learn about the area's history and sense of community.
During their favela visit, youth ambassadors and Fall 2014 voyagers met with locals to learn about the area’s history and sense of community. Photo by: Joshua Gates Weisberg

Dias said that his experiences studying abroad in the United States as well as his passion for political science inspired him to pursue an internship with the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro. “This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had”, Dias said, “I interact with diplomats every day and am right where all the action is happening.” Dias dreams to one day be a diplomat in the Foreign Service for Brazil, while Barbosa plans to pursue medical school and become a doctor. Barbosa and Dias were incredibly friendly, kind, and excited to have the opportunity to experience Semester at Sea.

Our five inter-port students planned a variety of educational and cultural programs for Semester at Sea students, working in conjunction with diplomats from the US Consul who joined the ship as well. After having lunch with Lais and Valmir, I attended their presentation later that evening about the different regions of Brazil. I learned about various aspects of Brazil’s politics, history, and many geographical wonders such as Iguaçu Falls and The Amazon. I was very impressed with all five of the Brazilian inter-port students; they were knowledgeable and willing to answer questions, but they were also really funny and willing to crack jokes.

The youth ambassadors stand in front of the MV Explorer before transiting with the community from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador.
The youth ambassadors stand in front of the MV Explorer before transiting with the community from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador. Photo courtesy of the Brazilian Youth Ambassadors (@jovensemb)

On our first day in Salvador, Barbosa, Dias, Gama, Vieira de Oliveira, and Cerquiera led a walking tour through the historic center of Salvador. We started out in the lower level of the city, where the youth ambassadors pointed out historical buildings that were instrumental to the slave trade in Brazil. We then took the elevator to the new section of the city, where we were able to tour the town hall originally built by Portuguese settlers.

My favorite part of the entire walking tour was when the youth ambassadors took the Semester at Sea group to a local café to watch street dancers perform capoeira, which is a type of Brazilian dance that incorporates kicks, spins, and acrobatics. It was really amazing to watch, and I enjoyed just getting to relax and experience the culture in a beautiful outdoor square.

Our youth ambassadors truly impacted my experiences in their country. Because of what they shared with Semester at Sea, I was able to immerse myself more fully in Brazilian culture and experience it with my shipboard friends as well as my new inter-port friends.

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