The worldwide Augustana College experience

Expectations for Brazil

Throughout the 4 completed weeks I have been attending my classes for Brazil and the seminar, my views and expectations on what to expect in Brazil have changed to some degree from those I had initially when the term began. In the seminar we have had guest speaker’s talk with us about how to respectfully and graciously immerse ourselves into Brazilian culture. Their points have stressed a humble approach to photographing daily life and the way we approach learning about differences in our cultures. The speakers have also stressed the need to be cautious while traveling through the city and the importance of traveling in groups while not drawing attention to ourselves. For the most part, these points were confirmed in my mind from ideas previously reflected on. This gives me the expectation I will be a little edgy my first couple days in the city especially when in smaller groups. I am expecting to be identified as a “gringo” and am not looking forward to feeling like a foreigner. I am expecting to receive some interesting and concerned looks while in the group and while I am attempting to not butcher the Portuguese language. From the warm and friendly introduction the speakers have given Brazilian people I am hoping for smiles and laughter as opposed to frowns and yelling at my attempts to ask questions or travel around the cities.
In my Brazilian modernism class we learned that Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery in 1888. The mark of slavery has played a significant role on the socioeconomic stratification of the citizens of Brazil on an ethnic basis. Much like in America I expect to thee those with darker skin color to be those of lower socioeconomic status. The African population of Brazil is the largest of most nations on the globe and as a result I expect the Afro Brazilian cultural sambas and dances to be all over in Maceio during Carnaval. We have also learned that due to Brazil being a Portuguese colony, Brazil struggled in the initial stages of immigrant induced industrialization to maintain control of their economy and cultural identity. Many artists of Brazil led the nation through a period of anthropophagy or the digestion of European culture and the renewal of the Brazilian national identity. I expect this process to be reflected in the landscape and tone of Brazil mainly due to the fact that this happened less than a century ago.
In the Art of the Americas class we have made works primarily indicative of the native Americans in North and Central America and less so about those in Brazil. These works include Navaho loom weavings, and Parfleche designs for our sketchbooks. In class we have learned about the history and evolution of Carnaval and have each made masks with a specific theme depicted. The multitude of materials and themes Carnaval incorporates gives me the sense that Carnaval will truly be a time of immense passion, energy, and expression. Pueblo men were the teachers of weaving to Navaho women. This is indicative of how each culture has unique characteristics. Gender roles across different cultures have remained fairly consistent over time. The freedom from gender roles, sexual limits, and most other senses of discipline and traditional norms makes Carnaval a euphoric experience I am greatly looking forward to being a part of. I am nervous for the initial cultural shock of being surrounded by people who do not speak my language, know where I am from, or have similar ideas about personal space, but I feel once I have time to adjust and relate to the people there I will be able to let my guard down and connect on some level with their way of life.
I expect my idea of what I and other Americans hold to distinguish as their identity to be in sharp contrast to that of the Brazilians not in the principle but in the means it’s manifested. I for the most part believe that the basic elements of society such as a place for family life, national pride, and some sense of economic independence exist in both cultures. I believe Brazilian and Americans hold to the staple of their identity to be their sense of individual achievement. Men are supposed to be the bread winners and provide for the family. Americans seem to be far less critical and more defensive of their values than what I have heard about self critical Brazilians. Brazilians also seem less involved in world affairs and this is in contrast to the United States. This has given the American identity a sense of the guardians of “freedom and justice” that comes off as very self righteous and intrusive to the world community.

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