ODI Scholars in Brazil for
May Session 2014

Brazilian schoolkids with ODI scholars

For May Session 2014, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered with the Office of International Affairs and the Department of African American and African Studies to create a study abroad course called “Afro-Brazil Culture & History.” The class consisted of twenty-six students: twenty-two undergraduates and four graduate students, and the majority were ODI Scholars (Young Scholars, Morrill Scholars, and Bell National Resource Center students). Many of the students were first-generation, inner-city students, and for several, this was their first time on an airplane.

“Education abroad is an important means for our ODI Scholars to develop a knowledge of diverse cultures and viewpoints and a greater understanding of global issues,” said Dr. Valerie Lee, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer, and vice president for Outreach and Engagement.

The students traveled to the Bahia region of Brazil visiting Salvador, Cachoeira, Lençois, and Morro de Sao Paulo from May 6-22 and participated in numerous cultural events. Students had a panoramic tour of Salvador, walked through Gruta da Lapa Doce (a cave and one of the region’s most treasured landmarks), and hiked Poco do Diabo and experienced its amazing waterfall. The students were given a tour of Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, which also served as the place where many enslaved Africans were disciplined for rebellious behavior.

In Cachoeira, an inland town that historically connected colonial Salvador, the class visited a market and the internationally renowned Danneman cigar factory. During the visit the group stayed overnight at the Pousada do Convento do Carmo, a former colonial convent. In Lençois, there was a mountain hike along with a visit to Remanso, a local quilombo or settlement formed by Africans in Brazil who fled enslavement for freedom. In Morro De Sao Paulo, students toured Praia da Argila and enjoyed the beaches and shops on the island.                          

Over the last two days of the program, the group visited Escola Aberta do Calabar, a school formed by members of the favela where the school is located. There, students were given a tour and interacted with teachers and students. There was also a moment to visit the Steve Biko Institute, which helps young adolescent Black Brazilians gain access to a college education and prepares those students to pass the country’s entrance exam.

This year’s trip was made possible by funding from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of International Affairs, Who’s Who Publishing, Links Inc. - Columbus Chapter, and Burt Saltzman. Their generous support provided students with the opportunity of a lifetime for remarkable social and intercultural engagement, allowing them to experience first-hand critical international issues and to create lasting connections with their fellow students and global citizens. Each student received six academic credits. In addition, Clara Ramos and Associação Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos - ACBEU, who organized the trip, played a large part in making this study abroad a reality.

After such a successful May session program, ODI has plans to coordinate trips for its students to travel to Brazil, Ethiopia, South Africa, Dominican Republic, China, Taiwan, and Morocco over the next ten years.