By Natalia Caldas
As part of the Global Gateway program in Rio de Janeiro, students took two courses: History, Culture, and Society of Brazil and Brazilian Foreign Policy. The former was taught by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Kathryn Sanchez. In her class, we investigated Rio de Janeiro’s rich society. One of my favorite aspects of Professor Sanchez’s class was the “Out-on-the-street” assignment for which pairs of students would participate in a local activity of their choice and present their experience to the class. We complimented our studies with excursions to local historical and cultural sites. It is one thing to read about the beautiful complexity of Brazil, but it is even more rewarding to experience it firsthand. Our second class, Brazilian Foreign Policy, was taught by a CIEE professor: Julia Stadler. Julia helped us explore the current political climate plaguing Brazil. Her comparative approach to international relations helped those of us who lacked a traditional social sciences background. As part of her class, we did a joint lecture with Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO) professor André Coelho. One of my favorite memories on this trip was meeting Prof. Coelho and his university students. We had a compelling conversation surrounding both American and Brazilian politics. It was amazing to have a conversation with Brazilians our age. We even exchanged information and explored Rio together. The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), the agency with whom we cooperated, did an excellent job at making us feel at home. The staff routinely offered suggestions for fun excursions and were always there to provide support. They made a huge difference in our experience and we are grateful for their ongoing support in all aspects of our program.