University of Wisconsin–Madison

UWRio2018 Who are the lucky student participants?

This is Liliana Teniente, a fantastic human and roommate. She is from Madison, WI, and is attending the UW-Madison in pursuit of a major in International Studies and certificates in Development Economics and Gender and Women’s studies. Her favorite foods are phó and mole, both amazing foods. Since arriving in Rio de Janeiro, she has been surprised by the diversity of the people; in Madison she is frequently in the minority, being a person of color, but in Rio, people often see her as a part of the majority and begin to speak to her in Portuguese, in which she has to reply, “Eu não falo português”. Her favorite part of the city is learning about the historical sites and occurrences and applying the newfound knowledge around the city, truly being able to experience what she has learned unfold before her eyes. She also loves getting acai with her favorite roommate (me!) nearly everyday. Since being here, Liliana misses her home, mostly her grandparents, cat and home cooked meals. She is looking forward to continuing to get to know everyone on the trip and creating long lasting friendships, along with hitting up the beaches and the amazing group excursions. When asked if she would wish to study abroad again, Liliana replied, “Yes I would love to! The Global Gateway program offered a great experience to see what it is like being abroad. It pushed you out of your comfort zone and was a nice introduction to being abroad, because I was with people from the University and the trip was long, but not too long.” Liliana is an amazing person- she has quickly become a friend, has two tattoos (super cool) and is a genuine and kind human.

By Malina Barker

Alyssa Hui is a rising junior from the southside area of Chicago, Illinois. She is studying Journalism and Mass Communications with certificates in Gender Women’s Studies and Asian-American Studies. In addition to being the youngest of three sisters, she is also a first-generation college student.

One of Alyssa’s favorite things about being in Rio de Janeiro is experiencing the beautiful city while witnessing breathtaking views, like the Christ the Redeemer Statue. She mentioned that she appreciates being able to learn about the history of the city, and then being able to visit and experience topics we’ve learned about in class on her own.

“The opportunity to gain knowledge about places before you visit them puts things into a whole new perspective and gives it a whole new meaning.”

While she realizes being in a foreign country means delving into some learning curves, she has struggled with the language barrier since she does not speak Portuguese. One thing Alyssa misses about the States are home cooked meals, especially Chinese food.

Alyssa is looking forward to being able to take part in more excursions with the group, as well as being able to get to know more about her fellow classmates!

By Liliana Teniente

Laura Rodriguez Alvarez is one of the 2018 participants of the Rio de Janeiro trip and my very fun roommate. She was born in Colombia but has grown up in Madison, WI as the only child of her family. This fall, she will be heading into her junior year at UW-Madison as an engineering student focusing her studies on biological systems dealing with the environment and natural resources. Laura enjoys being very active through activities like playing soccer, going roller blading, and dancing. Since being in Rio, she has found new hobbies including surfing and learning the Samba. She is very social in our group and enjoys getting to know others. She also has a very passionate personality in which she feels strongly about issues such as poverty or environmental conditions, while also being passionate in every activity she does. Laura desired to come to Rio in order to experience Brazil. Now after being in the city for a week, she has enjoyed the environment here mentioning that her favorite part so far is the friendliness she’s felt from local Brazilians. She also remarked on how the atmosphere feels similar her travels to Colombia, which has helped her feel more comfortable in the new setting. Laura aspires to one day return to Rio during the Carnival period in order to experience the excitement of the festivities.

By Jennifer Booth

[Jenna to the left, Laura to the right]
Jennifer Booth, who goes by Jenna, is a rising sophomore at UW-Madison. Her hometown is Strum, Wisconsin. Currently, Jenna is undeclared in a major path, but she is leaning towards education as she would love to teach ESL. After spending one year at UW-Madison, Jenna realized how much she loves attending a college that has immense pride. After all, there is no spirit like the one that infects Badgers on Game Day! On campus, Jenna is involved in various organizations. One she is most proud of is Navigators, which is a Christian affiliated organization. Jenna also likes to play the piano and guitar and bake cookies!

Upon hearing about the Global Gateways Program that UW-Madison offers, she could not contain her interest in the program, as she has always wanted to travel to South America. Thus far, Jenna has enjoyed many things about Rio de Janeiro, from the beaches, to the weather, to the diverse people who populate Rio. However, her favorite thing about Rio so far has been visiting the Tijuca urban rainforest, which boasts a diverse landscape and a beautiful waterfall. Jenna notes that while this is her first time studying abroad, this will not be her last.

Following her time abroad this summer, Jenna plans to return home to Strum. Once there, she will act as a lifeguard in her community, enjoy time with her friends and family, and prepare for the upcoming school year!

By Jasmine Brandon

Michelle Navarro is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she intends to major in Journalism and Mass Communication with a certificate in Digital Studies. Michelle confesses her innate capacity for writing and communicating. She hopes to utilize her education, skills, and passion for the Latinx community to establish a bilingual multimedia news source for members of her community. Inspired by her loving parents and their courage, the predominately Latinx community from which she hails, and her identity as a first-generation student, Michelle has worked tirelessly to provide resources to those of marginalized identities. You can find Michelle at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Multicultural Student Center, where she and a team of Social Justice Specialist interns collaborate to create progressive programming for the campus community. In her free time, Michelle very much enjoys photography, videography, reading, and above all else: writing. She describes writing in her journal as a strategy for self-care and healing. Characteristically optimistic, she has a unique sense of purpose and understanding of the world that is refreshing. She breeds hope among those she communicates with, which is becoming a harder task these days. She hopes to use this time in Rio de Janeiro to further develop her understanding of Latin America and to become an even more well-rounded person than she already is.

By Natalia Caldas

I had never met someone that needs, in the most literal sense, to eat multiple churros per day. Of course, most people have never met someone like this; some never will. This statement applied to me until I met Mahad Siad. In the time that we have been in Rio de Janeiro, Mahad has singularly floated the churro economy among street vendors in the Largo do Machado area.

To avoid painting Mahad as a one-dimensional-all-fried-dough-consuming-force, it should be noted that he also loves pão de queijo. He was born on May 12, 1998 in Madison, WI in St. Mary’s Hospital. While in Brazil, he hopes to learn how to swim.

Mahad has a fearsome sweet-tooth. He would eat chocolate if you gave it to him, but he won’t go out of his way to buy it for himself. He doesn’t like beans, but the opinion is formed on many different samplings of beans.  He does not like bitter or vinegar-rich foods.  He pronounces bagel with a long “A.”

He physically hides from his alarm in the mornings, and he falls for easy jump-scares. He is a prolific napper. He also sleep-talks, but he has much more to say when he is awake. He is a patient, easy-going person, and I’ve never heard him say a bad thing about anyone. According to a highly rigorous BuzzFeed quiz, the type of whale Mahad would be is a narwhal.

By Will Dougherty

This is Will Dougherty, a geology major at UW. He was born on October 3, 1997 in the small town of Bayfield Wisconsin. Will is a multi- talented young man whose interests are all around the board. On his free time, he likes to do a variety of things from rock climbing, to throwing pottery, and further developing his photography skills. Will has 4 siblings and 3 dogs which he considers a crucial piece in his family and in his home. Some fun facts are that his favorite emoji is the COOL emoji, he has boated a lot with his family, he loves board games, and he prefers Star Wars over The Lord of The Rings. This summer Will was accepted into the Global Gateway Program and had the opportunity to come study abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When asked what his favorite parts of the trip were so far, he responded the artsy vibe of Santa Teresa and the wilderness of the forest of Tijuca. Something he has found very interesting here in Rio is the amount of French Fries that are available, but he isn’t complaining! Something he hopes to accomplish before he leaves is to hike the highest peak in Rio!

By Omar Espino

Ana Marin will be a third year student in the fall of 2018 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She studies Political Science and is receiving certificates in Chican@ Latin@ Studies and Latin American, Caribbean, Iberian Studies. Marin was born in Chicago but was raised in Milwaukee by her single-mother. She is the youngest sibling out of two brothers and three sisters and is also a proud, independent and humble first-generation college student.

Ana describes how thankful and privileged she is for being a part of the Rio de Janeiro Global Gateway Program at UW-Madison. Ana would not have studied abroad if it weren’t for programs like this, which offer her support and financial coverage. With this once in a lifetime opportunity, she’s had the chance to interact with the community by speaking with local people using her Portuguese and fluent Spanish speaking skills. Additionally, she has learned about the transportation in Brazil and also topics surrounding the African diaspora and the slave trade that occurred during the colonial period. Ana has been able to see the history learned in the classrooms right in front of her through tours in areas such as Little Africa.

“There’s only so much you can learn through text or media, but seeing things in person makes the whole experience a reality,” Ana said.

With everything that she has learned and experienced so far, Ana is looking forward to how she can contribute to making Brazil a better place for the people while studying Political Science in Wisconsin.

By Alyssa Hui

Paulo Coelho once wrote “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. Meeting Dequadray White was definitely the universe working to make sure our paths crossed. The purpose? I’m still figuring out the puzzle pieces. All the way from Forest Park, Georgia, Dequadray decided to attend UW-Madison along with his First Wave cohort. He is focusing on his art, with a certificate in Afro-Studies. The determination and energy he dedicates into his work is not only admirable, but it’s reflected in the payoff. ‘Dequadray! a Black Sitcom’ has impacted a great audience, including myself. It goes to show how important artist representation is for our communities. While in Rio, Mr. White is excited to learn and appreciate the art this vibrant city has to offer, in hopes of influencing his artistic soul. A key value for Dequadray is having transparency between people as a means of conserving time and energy. I would agree. Life is too short to waste on problematic individuals, when you can surround yourself with those who contribute to your growth. Coming to Brazil has so far been an interesting experience for Dequadray, as he ponders the society, its people, and its politics. He hopes to live and see as much of the city as he can. It is said that it only takes seven seconds to judge a person. In seven seconds, I knew the universe had conspired in our favor.

By Ana Marin

Gloria Alexandra Wide is a cat-loving, coffee-drinking, viola-playing, free-spirited individual. She came to UW-Madison with the goal of studying under her viola mentor, Sally Chisholn. She plays the viola because string-instruments are said to be difficult, and she’s always up for a challenge. Other than that, a cello or a bass wouldn’t fit in her house and “violins are stupid.” Playing the viola is rare, and it makes her feel special in a way. Her aspiration in life is anything where she can play her music— it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as she can make a living while pursuing her passions.

With goals to travel the world, she thinks Rio is a perfect place to start. In her first week here, she’s discovered she finds the most joy just walking from place to place in Catete, and finding new coffee shops and restaurants. She finds it interesting to see the Cariocas and step into their shoes for a bit.

As for some fun facts, she absolutely loves cats, and has tried to pet all of the ones we’ve seen in Rio thus far. However, she doesn’t enjoy birds, which “make too much noise and get super close”. She has seven tattoos, but only talks about five— I don’t recommend you ask about the other two. Her goal is to come back from Rio with 8. She loves coffee (no sugar, of course), and her goal is to drink so much coffee that she’s just always awake. She’s found a lot of great cafés in Rio, as well as great restaurants, and decided with another participant to create an Instagram dedicated to their finds (@eatin_rio_good). Clearly, she is a clever and creative woman, ready to experience Rio fully, day and night, for these next few weeks.

By Amaya Muñoz

Jasmine Brandon is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Political Science and Education Studies, with certificates in Gender and Women Studies and Chicano/Latino Studies. She is originally from Los Angeles, California. She came to study at Wisconsin as a Los Angeles Posse Scholar and Gates Millennium Scholar, granting her a full-ride scholarship. On campus, she is very involved as a sister of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. She was the Academic Chair for the Multicultural Greek Council and she sat on the Multicultural Grant Council. She decided to apply to study abroad in Brazil because she could not have missed out on an opportunity that will allow her to emerge herself in a culture while learning about it. After Brazil, Jasmine plans on returning to Los Angeles to attend her mother’s wedding and will be a Summit Counselor for the Young Leader Summit in Chicago where she will be responsible for serving as a mentor to a diverse cohort of 200 low-income high school juniors. Jasmine will also take time this summer watching Grey’s Anatomy and spending time with family and friends. Next school year, Jasmine will be SEED facilitator and a writing fellow on campus!

By Michelle Navarro

Malina Barker is a rising sophomore from Marshfield Wisconsin pursuing a career in conservation biology and international studies; she chose these majors in hopes to research ways to aid the environment while helping humanity worldwide. She decided to apply to this program in hopes of applying the knowledge she has learned at UW-Madison through two semesters of Portuguese classes. In Brazil, her favorite activity has been learning how to surf at the Ipanema beach. Malina has also enjoyed the Brazilian dancing culture, which is why she hopes to enlist herself in a class at the university next semester. She has also appreciated the abundance of mangos in the area as they are her favorite fruits. Her favorite new dessert has become the açaí bowls as they are affordable, healthy and full of flavor. One of the most interesting facts about Malina is that she is vegetarian and has been for three and a half years. She became vegetarian for ethical and environmental reasons. She does not want to support animal cruelty and hopes to reduce her carbon footprint. When she goes back to Marshfield Wisconsin, she will continue to lifeguard at Marshfield’s community pool. Malina is proud to say that she has never had to save anyone as she mostly preforms preventative lifeguarding.

By Laura Rodriguez

Originally from the marvelous city of New York, Amaya Jean Muñoz is a sophomore studying computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, Amaya does not consider herself a full STEM person as she is very interested in writing and journalism. While it is difficult to major in both computer science and journalism, Amaya still hopes to find ways to intertwine her passions. After completing undergrad, Amaya hopes to become a professor or an educator of some sort. Conducting research and educating/mentoring others is something that brings true happiness to her. She hopes to be in a position in which she can inspire and help others. Whatever her profession may be, she wants to live in New York City, or as she states it, the greatest city in the world. Outside of academics Amaya explores a handful of hobbies including singing, running, and theater.

From the few interactions I have had with Amaya, one thing that stood out is that she always had an upbeat, positive, and joyful attitude. Additionally, she highly values fairness and helping others. Amaya is definitely a trustworthy person because she pours her cereal in first before milk rather than the other way around. Her preference of regular Oreos over double-stuffed Oreos is something I still have yet to understand about her. If she could be a fruit, Amaya has chosen to be an avocado, pineapple, and pear. Her favorite movies include, the Goonies, Clueless, and Disney’s brilliant masterpiece Coco.

By Mahad Siad

Hailing from the windy city of Chicago, Omar Espino is a Civil Engineering major who loves to play soccer, dance, and eat great food. When I asked him why he was motivated to apply to the Global Gateway Brazil program, he expressed to me that coming to Brazil is his first time traveling outside of North America, he wanted to see and experience a completely different culture. He was really amazed at the beautiful scenery and the delicious pizza we had on our first outing. Part of that beautiful scenery that he enjoyed thus far is the Cristo Redentor, one of the seven wonders of the world.  Being from Chicago, he is really excited to be enjoying a winter that is not like the frigid ones back in the Midwest. When he leaves, which he anticipates he will be sad to do, he looks forward to not only bringing souvenirs for his family and friends to help them understand a little about his experience but also taking with him a more grateful mindset. This trip has shown him that as an American we often forget how privileged we are. Brazil won’t be Omar’s only stop, in the future he wants to expand his horizons by traveling to Japan, Colombia, Australia, and Spain.

By Dequadray White

Natalia Caldas is from LA with roots in Mexico, Spain, and Cuba. She grew up with an older sister, younger brother and a dog named Campeón in Inglewood, LA and is a passionate LA fan. The Posse program is what brought Natalia to Madison and she expresses that she is very blessed to have received this scholarship. In the Fall she is beginning her third year as both a political science major and a communication art major. At UW she is involved in WUD film and recently joined the Kappa Gamma chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. She also currently works with guest services in the athletics department. She is an avid boba enthusiast and managed to find boba all the way out here in Brazil. She also loves movies but refuses to watch them with me because I talk too much (understandable). Although she is unable to select a single movie as her favorite, she can say that the Hunger Games is her favorite novel. She has such an interest in novels that last summer (2017) she interned for Penguin Random House publishing company in New York City. Overall, Natalia is a very interesting person with a bubbly and kind personality and I hope that you all try your best to get to know her. I’m glad that I have!

By Gloria Wide

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