Kia ora, I participated in the 360 International Virtual Programme – Campus B Indigenous Rights and History in Brazil over three weeks, from 29 June to 16 July, 2021. The programme was delivered by Campus B, an organisation based in Brazil that specialises in international education. Campus B believes that learning should not be limited to classrooms or geographical boundaries. The programme introduced students to the indigenous communities in Brazil, their customs, culture and challenges relating to politics and the pandemic.
Campus B were well-organised and adaptable throughout the programme when difficulties arose, and were consistently approachable and friendly. Alongside education, we engaged directly with Instituto Internacional de Educacao do Brasil/International Institute of Education in Brazil (IEB) to build an initiative to attempt to solve a real problem indigenous people of Brazil face. IEB is a Brazilian third sector institution dedicated to training and empowering people, as well as strengthening organisations in the areas of natural resource management, environmental and territorial management and other issues related to sustainability.
We had the amazing opportunity to share this experience and work with Brazilian students and interact with local indigenous people. I have formed connections and friendships with peers throughout this programme, and hope to stay in touch after the programme concluded. The programme consisted of 1.5 hour lectures on Tuesday – Friday for three weeks. It was a slight challenge meeting with our project group outside of class time because of the time difference between Aotearoa and Brazil. We held approximately four meetings relating with the project group relating to the project and also, getting to know each other’s lives. We were given time at the end of classes to work on projects also. The UOA students also got to meet at a Brazilian café in Auckland to explore the variety of food.
The project aspect of the programme was challenging largely because of the language barrier between the English (as a first language) students and Portuguese (as a first language) project judges. It was unclear the expectations and parameters of the project initially, with potentially some miscommunication because of the language differences. However, this built my initiative and flexibility skills throughout the programme. And patience! Also, I had ongoing concerns of ethnocentrism and applying an etic approach whereby we apply our biased knowledge to other communities. This is detrimental to the indigenous communities because it can force them to assimilate away from their own culture and customs.
The skills that I developed and enhanced during the virtual programme are outlined below with some examples: – Fostering development: Initially because of my experience and extroverted personality, I was put forward to be the project group leader. However, I feel my leadership skills are relatively refined (and leaders don’t have to always be the extraverted ones) and wanted to promote a peer to enhance their skillset. I (along with the rest of the group) encouraged a peer to take on this role with ongoing support from us. This will be useful in real-life when I am in leadership/managerial roles to nurture development of others. – Diversity and support: Learning about students and indigenous peoples daily experiences and challenges gave me understanding of the history and rights within Brazil.
Going into the programme, I was largely ignorant to the Brazilian context. From the programme, I can continue my awareness and join the fight of conversation of rights through sharing my knowledge and engaging.
Ngā mihi nui,