Hello from an airplane, currently travelling from one enriching Latin American experience to another. I have just finished one chapter of my 2020; One that was spent with nine other incredible Auckland University students on the Indigenous History and Rights Program in Brazil, our cultural advisor Anahera and Talita our campus B mum. I am now on my way to start the next chapter, in Guadalajara, Mexico doing a semester exchange at Technológico de Monterrey.
To tie everything up, I wanted to talk about Brasilia. The very young capital of Brazil, that was built in a speedy three years during the presidency term of JK de Oliveira to move the previous capital in Rio de Janeiro inland, creating more jobs and economic opportunities. Modern Brasilia is in the shape of an airplane: The body stretches out to contain the governmental monuments, offices and councils. The wings are mirror images, containing sectors of buildings based on categorical function; The hotel sector, food, professional (with lawyers, dentists, doctors), hospital and then the residency sector. Of course, anything present on one wing, is replicated on the other. Another thing I found fascinating is the seemingly contradictory notions of industrial growth and modernising the nation, while relying on public spending and national debt. During the construction of Brasilia, the railway construction projects were discontinued and there was specifically an absence of public transport plans to try and increase car imports to ‘develop the economy’. Brasilia is very clean, structured, and with a purpose. The city and its’ people are centred around politics and economic opportunity.
Our group went on a city tour, visiting the indigenous museum, which displayed a exhibit from the perspective of a group of autonomous indigenous women, active in the resistance through their societal roles raising the young, gathering and preparing food, creating art pieces which are sold for the community to share the profit and they are currently trying to reach a more distant market and increase the prices to be fair in terms of the effort put into the pieces, which take days to complete. We have all been trying to support these initiatives by picking up little gems from collections to take home as gifts or memoirs of the experiences. We were also invited back to the Memorial dos Povos Indígenas to see a private exhibition which was incredibly touching.
Finally, we met an indigenous student and Guajajara chief, Fêtxawewe in the indigenous cultural campus space of Universidade de Brasília. This leader has been the face of both youth resistance from 15 years old when his father passed away and he took over the position of chief in his tribe and in advocating for LGBTQ+ , both marginalized groups constantly presenting conflicts. This was as extreme as the lack of support his father was able to give, which left him with only his mother that would speak to him from that entire familial line. But Fêtxawewe left us with his father’s saying that he still holds close- “try to see love in everything, take care of everything, treat everyone equally”.
I am so appreciative for everything and everyone that has been part of this experience and Education New Zealand for making this a reality.
Até qualquer dia,