I had the pleasure of taking part in the ‘Indigenous Rights and History in Brazil’ virtual programme over the mid-semester break. Unfortunately thanks to the coronavirus we weren’t able to physically travel to Brazil, which I would have absolutely loved. Nevertheless, getting to learn about the indigenous experience and being able to contrast that with Maori rights here in New Zealand was an interesting and eye opening experience. At first there was a disconnect with the other programme participants as everything was online, but the in person cooking workshop and café visit helped me to build some rapport with my peers, whose company I genuinely enjoyed.
The workshops were interesting and given by some accomplished individuals; one of my group mates found out on the last day that one of our mentors actually sat next to Greta Thunberg when she gave her UN speech that went viral! We discussed both historical and topical issues, and it gave me a lot of perspective on the world. In addition to the workshops, we also had to develop a project that helped to further the cause of the non-profit the programme was working with (IEB). This gave me the opportunity to work with some Brazilian university students, which was a great experience culturally.
Unfortunately the programme casts a light on just how tragic the indigenous experience is for all native peoples around the world, but knowledge is power and being able to create a project that could help in fighting the good fight was extremely fulfilling. Being surrounded by people whose work is to fight for justice is both inspirational and empowering, and the programme is a great insight into the work that these people do.
Overall, the programme was a fulfilling experience both for the mind and soul. Being able to learn about history beyond the Anglosphere and a little bit about Brazilian culture was eye opening (and reignited my love for Brigadeiros!), and to be a part of something that is so much bigger than me definitely makes me feel empowered. As a law student, it reiterates for me personally why I chose to study law in the first place, and that was to fight the good fight.