It´s a year that Brazilians have been waiting for since 2007, when the nation was chosen to host the World Cup. 2014 has arrived and so have our students that will spend the semester immersing themselves in the culture, becoming fluent in Portuguese, studying at Brazil´s top universities, adventuring both within and outside the city limits and yes, these semester students will be here when the ball is dropped for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in June. On January 3rd, students fought through snow storms and flight delays before boarding their flights in the USA. They exited the airplanes in Rio de Janeiro to record temperatures of 104F with a 120F heat index. Their new lives in the tropical country began with sunny day after sunny day. Above is a photo of our group on the afternoon of their arrival, missing a few because of delayed flights. Around the same time the photo was taken it was beginning to sink in that they had made a wonderful decision to study abroad in Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro.
Abraços From Brazil
After a two day orientation at a hotel in downtown Rio, where students learned about everything from personal safety to cultural competency, it was time to become familar with the geography of the city. To say Rio de Janeiro has unique physical features would be understating its grandeur. It is considered by some to be the most beautiful cityscape on the planet. Our tour took us to the hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa, known for its artists and Bohemian lifestyle, to the famous Selaron staircase in Lapa, through the largest urban forest in the world - The Tijuca National Forest. Finally, the highlight of the city tour was visiting the Christ statue that sits on top of Corcovado Mountain, one of the thousands of majestic viewpoints in the city and one of the seven man made wonders of the world.
Check out our students' individual blogs:
Intensive Language Course Upon Arrival Opens Doors of Opportunity
CIEE believes that the language component of any program is critical to opening doors of opportunity. Students may have taken several semesters of Portuguese in their home universities but that cannot compare to being immersed in Brazilian Portuguese. Our host university, Pontificia Catolica Universidade do Rio de Janeiro is considered one of the best private universities in Brazil. Together with Portuguese speaking homestays and a language commitment our students take a one month intensive Portuguese course before beginning the semester. Intensive might even be an understatement, the one month course entails 90 classroom hours complimented by CIEE’s cultural activity and guest lecture series. At the end, the students feel better prepared for the courses and a lot more efficient in navigating the city and communicating with the community.
Samba Dance Lesson Rio is known as the "City of Samba," and there is no better way to learn how to samba than to take our special class with the "passistas", professional dancers from the most popular samba school in Rio called Mangueira at the CIEE study center.
Night at a the Mangueira Samba School. Samba schools are not necessarily schools. They are everything that makes carnaval special in Rio de Janeiro. What is a samba school? They open their doors in July to prepare for the carnaval season. The students practiced their skills spending a late night at the famous "Escola de Samba" called Mangueira, photos below.
Percussion Lesson in Santa Marta. Santa Marta, photo below, is one of the almost 600 poor hill-side neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. It is located on a very steep slope in the neighborhood of Botafogo and has a population of around 8000 residents. In 2008 the neighborhood was the first favela to undergo a new peacekeeping process of urbanization carried out by the city and state governments of Rio de Janeiro. CIEE students participated in a percussion lesson taught by the instructors and students of Atitude Social. Atitude Social is an NGO that transforms youth in the neighborhood through music, art and education. The drum lesson was held at the Michael Jackson Square, where Michael filmed the the 1996 video for "They Don't Really Care About Us". It was a learning community engagement activity and a blast had by all.
Movie Nights and Guest Lectures: As part of the Intensive Language and Culture course CIEE hosts a guest lecture series and Brazilian film nights at the CIEE Study Center. In January CIEE hosted guest lecture Sean McIntyre Ph.D. who spoke about the History of the Brazilian Literature and Intellectual Life. In another guest lecture Theresa Williamson Ph.D. lectured on Pre-Olympic Rio and Social Justice and Politics in Rio´s Favelas. The two Brazilian films we showed at our office, with English subtitles, were Four Days in September and Faroeste Caboclo.
Optional Hikes: We have staff that loves hiking in Rio in de Janeiro, and we also love sharing these optional hikes with our students. Below is a photo from a hike we did in January to the Leme Forte.
A tour of Grande Rio Samba School: Our students were invited by the first division samba school called Grande Rio. It was a valuable opportunity to understand the incredible amount of work that goes into the entire production of Carnaval behind the scenes. As part of the tour we learned the history of samba, tried on the elaborate costumes and toured the warehouse where the floats were in construction.
See you next issue with more learning adventures such as our excursion to the historic mountain city of Ouro Preto, more about our community engagement activities, beginning of the semester courses, parading at CARNAVAL and other activities around Rio de Janeiro.