Higher Education in Brazil 2018:
Access, Equity, and Opportunity

ODI Scholars in Brazil in front of colorful buildings

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the College of Education and Human Ecology collaborated to offer Higher Education in Brazil: Access, Equity, and Opportunity, an education abroad experience to the Bahia region of Brazil from March 8-18, 2018. In addition to the Buckeyes, Huskies from the University of Connecticut came along, the first time two such schools have jointly participated in an education abroad program.

The course exposed Ohio State students to educational access and equity challenges in Brazil commonly experienced by low-income and first-generation college students enrolled in American universities and colleges. The education abroad experience helped students gain a better understanding of the role of higher education in Brazil and the educational needs of low-income and first generation students, particularly Afro-Brazilians. Students also acquired greater understanding of how race, socioeconomic status, and gender impact educational and social opportunities for Afro-Brazilian youth though discussions with university faculty, and visits to elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions, and historical and cultural sites in Brazil.

Higher Education in Brazil Reflections 2018

Nnaemeka Anene
Being afforded the opportunity to go to Brazil with Ohio State's Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the University of Connecticut was truly amazing. Personally, it was amazing to visit multiple engineering colleges and see labs that directly correlate to my major. I even spoke with some professors about graduate school opportunities or ways to connect Ohio State with their institutions. The joy of all the people we encountered was second to none. This was most evident at the basketball game we played; the whole town came out to watch. But what was truly gratifying was the love and joy they had in interacting with us after the game. The islands, beaches, and scenery were unparalleled. The ten days I spent in Brazil and the relationships built and maintained during it were truly life changing.

Clovetta Callander
I am beyond thankful for being a part of this education abroad experience. As a graduating senior, I thought I missed my opportunity to study abroad during my undergrad career, but I’m blessed to have come across this opportunity; it was life changing. I was able to share this experience with a wonderful group of people and interact with a supportive group of Resident Directors. As a future educator, this experience was very rewarding. As an educator I will interact with a wide range of ethnicities, races and cultures, and this trip allowed me to gain a new appreciation for culture and diversity. This trip also encouraged me to become more aware of individual stories. As an educator, I will also encounter students from throughout the world, and it's important to be inclusive and aware of the education they may have received prior to entering my classroom. Prior to this trip, I was aware that it’s important to use culturally responsive pedagogy in the classroom, but it’s different to read and study a topic versus hands on experience and dialogue with experts. 

Candace Cooper
My experience of Brazil has been transformative. The feeling is bittersweet. I had an amazing and beautiful experience. As Clara (The Queen) would say, you’ll never be the same after this experience. She was right; I haven’t had the time to truly reflect on my experience in depth but I know once we work on our projects and I speak with my friends and family, I’ll be able to fully articulate how monumental this trip was to me. This trip was a part of many firsts for me; first in my family to go out of the country, first time being on a plane, studying abroad, riding a boat, on an island and in the ocean/on the beach. I told myself I was going to channel my inner beauty on this trip and to allow myself to have a different perspective on what beauty is and how it is expressed. I wore no makeup and I brought none purposely. Because of this I have an even deeper, raw, empathetic and poised view of what it means to be Black and what it means to be a woman and how those identities intersect. Brazil allowed me to feel like a majority in a country where I am a minority. It showed me that Black identity is transcultural and that racism and sexism is global. The same issues we face in the U.S. have commonalities in Brazil. 

ODI Scholar reaching out to Brazilian students

Daron Davis
I feel that the most influential thing about my time in Brazil was seeing how happy the people were with what little they had. My time in Brazil helped me appreciate the company of good people versus chasing materialistic things in search of happiness. The people of Brazil were like a family; the love they showed each other was amazing. How they accepted our group was also amazing. I thought being American in a foreign country would put a target on my back. I was completely wrong; the people of Brazil were very welcoming and treated me as one of their own. This experience showed what society in America could look like if we loved each other no matter race, religion, or sex along with our advanced lifestyle.

Amira Fruits
My experiences in Brazil were absolutely life changing! In just ten short days, I know that I grew mentally, spiritually, and even professionally. During my time in Salvador, Brazil and other surrounding cities, I had an undeniable thirst for learning and exchanging experiences with the Afro-Brazilian community. One of my favorite moments in Brazil was playing basketball at the Model School in Gamboa, where I exchanged jerseys with the basketball coach. This exchange was just one of many that I experienced in Brazil, and I now understand my ability to genuinely interact and share experiences with different people from different cultures. Since leaving Brazil, I am more eager than ever to continue to have interactions like this. As I take on a new professional goal to enter a PhD program in Anthropology, my aim is to exchange knowledge about the Black experience worldwide and more specifically, exchanging knowledge about the biology, and mobility and matriculation of Black people globally, including Afro-Brazilians, throughout time. Without a doubt, Brazil is now very dear to my heart, and I will always carry my experiences there with me!

ODI Scholars holding Brazilian students on their shoulders

Marquis Gaines
My favorite part from my Brazil trip was being able to interact and see the kids there. They do not have close to the resources that we have back in the States, but they still were very happy and appreciative of what they did have. Some of my highs included being able to go zip lining into the ocean, meet beautiful genuine people, and experience Brazilian culture. Not to mention the way that everyone we interacted with and met was extremely happy whenever we gave them shirts, pencils and many other things that a lot of people in the states would be ungrateful for. The way the Brazilians appreciated our gifts to them was definitely one of my biggest takeaways from this experience. My study abroad trip was amazing, and I can’t wait to return and give back to some of the places we visited in Brazil.

Joe Ingram III
I was not blessed with the most fortunate upbringing, yet, being in Brazil was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. It allowed me to put in perspective how privileged I am as an American. There are similar struggles as far as race, wealth, and educational access, but with a greater population of Black citizens, the disparity of these issues is ridiculous in comparison with the US. As a graduating senior, this has been the experience I needed to cap off an astounding undergraduate career. From the scenery, to the communities, to the people, Brazil was beautiful. Thank you for extending the opportunity.

ODI Scholars on basketball court

Che Jackson
Having the opportunity to study the contrasts between the education systems of Brazil and the United States has allowed me to appreciate my own academic opportunities in a new light. Aside from academics, being immersed into a different culture was refreshing. Although I ran into numerous language barriers, Google Translate helped me get around. Branching off of that, the people were so patient and kind with me as they understood that I was a tourist. From an aesthetic standpoint, Brazil was beautiful. I had never seen a favela prior to the trip, or oceans so clear and blue. The wealth of knowledge I take from Brazil is invaluable, and I will surely cherish all of its memories for a lifetime!

ODI Scholar with Brazilian girls around her smiling

Cameron Johnson
The trip to Brazil opened my eyes to see more of the world for what it has to offer. Being in a country where the majority of its citizens are the same color as me was refreshing to me as I could learn their culture. Touring through the city and visiting the many different schools helped me appreciate my educational upbringing and "America's equal opportunity" for education, as Brazil's education system is against Black students (which mostly attend public schools). Hearing the success stories and educational adventures from the students we spoke to was my highlight of the trip. It was great to know that some of them were as "woke" as we are in terms of how they know that the system is against them, their educational system is flawed, and that the government is corrupt. My only wish is that we can get those students to come visit Ohio State to see our school and our experiences. This was a great trip that created life-long memories and strengthened friendships with people on the trip. I miss Salvador and Morro already. 

Alonna Kleckley
I signed up for the Higher Education in Brazil trip thinking it was just going to be an opportunity to add to my resume and a fun trip before I graduate. However, I could not have predicted the profound effect it has had not only the way I view the world, but the way I view myself. This program allowed me to gain perspective on world-wide education systems and attainment, a topic I’ve studied throughout my college career from an American and European perspective. However, unlike any other program or course I have been in at Ohio State, through Higher Education in Brazil I was not only able to learn about education, but I learned how it effects other people that look like me around the world. This viewpoint changed the way I view myself as part of the world and apart of the larger African Diasporic community. Dr. Moore, Dr. Bennett and Dr. Hodge provided us with a strong support system, educationally and professionally. They encouraged us as a group to learn from them, amongst our fellow travelers, and every other successful professional they surrounded us with. We shared stories, experiences, goals and opportunities, while learning from amazing role models who gave us insight on their personal paths to success. This caused me to gain useful networking skills and recalibrate my own life goals and plans to not only aim to close gaps of opportunity in my own communities, but around the world as well.

Maurice Lathan
My Study Abroad trip to Brazil was a very humbling experience in all because seeing the lifestyle and what Afro-Brazilians go through made me more grateful for what I have. It was a blessing to be able to go there and see their rich culture as well as interact with the people. My favorite moment was when we went to an elementary school and spent time playing soccer as well as talking with the kids. Two key things that stood out to me was that college there is completely free but almost impossible to get admitted and succeed if you came from a public school education as well as if you are of darker skin complexion. I also thought it was interesting that at the age of 17, they pick their career and go straight into taking those classes. I will cherish the memories I made their forever and hopefully one day I can go back.

ODI Scholars kneeling in street with colorful buildings

Taylor Lonas
Traveling to Bahia, Brazil with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been a monumentally eye-opening experience! I genuinely enjoyed each aspect of the trip, from walking amidst the vividly painted neighborhoods and hiking up seemingly vertical hills, to interacting with the beautiful children of the city and getting the opportunity to know and love Clara (our trip guide). Every single day was an adventure, and I am truly grateful that I was presented with the opportunity to learn more about the Afro Brazilian culture, which in turn, helped me discover more about myself. Our group (consisting of both Ohio State and UCONN students) came together to acquire a deeper understanding of a culture differing from our own. The students were enthralled by the natural beauty of Bahia, and the advisors and tour guides were exceptionally superb at guiding student learning via hands-on exposure and interactions. I only wish more students could embark on this life changing journey. 

Demetrius McGhee
Traveling to Salvador, Brazil with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion was truly an amazing and eye-opening experience. The relationships and bonds I was able to form with my fellow students as well as Resident Directors will continue to exist well beyond the one-week time frame we spent together. The Black Brazilian experience has many parallels to the Black American experience. However, in many ways it is unique to itself. Being able to interact firsthand with their students and professors to talk about these issues was something that allowed me to have a greater outlook on what it means to be Black, as well as the ways that race is a universal factor of discrimination. I left feeling empowered and also responsible for continuing to press and improve inequalities in our world which African descendants face.

ODI Scholars creating OH-IO!

Christopher Raines II
This study abroad experience was amazing and very eye-opening. Visiting all these different schools has shown me their education system and how hard it is for an average Brazilian to get into college, which is highly unlikely even though public college is free and better than the private colleges. Clara and Fred played a huge part in our adventure in Brazil. Fred was extremely knowledgeable about everything from history, to the culture, and even the religions. Brazilian religion was the most impactful for me because it is very different from typical American/western society religions. We also were fully immersed into the Brazilian culture by going to the island and having to figure out ways to communicate with the locals. It was fun pointing at things and resorting to google translate. The tours we took on the bus were very informative too, going around the city and noticing the difference with the social and economic status of people, from looking at the favelas to the middle class and the rich ocean front properties. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone.