Over the semester break, I participated in the Campus B Indigenous Rights and History in Brazil Virtual program. I pursued this program because I was curious about the livelihood of indigenous communities within Brazil, whether it is any different compared to the experiences of Maori and Pasifika communities here in New Zealand. I entered this experience curious and nervous as I wasn’t too sure of what to expect. But this mix of anxiousness soon vanished in the first session of the program. As the coordinators and participants facilitating the program, they all made me feel so welcomed. From this point on, the experience became a genuinely enjoyable and insightful experience. The classes were always punctual despite the virtual setting and time difference, which often can be bothersome to navigate. This was an insightful experience.
Through this opportunity, I learned that the experiences of indigenous communities in Brazil are slightly distinct from the experiences of Maori people in New Zealand. Furthermore, I realized that the indigenous people in brazil belong to more than 100 different communities. But despite this fact, it was incomprehensible to learn that the Brazilian government doesn’t recognise them as people and often tries to impose legislation that infringes upon their constitutional rights.
The program was also an enriching experience that contributed significantly to developing my skills. Specifically, it helped me to be more confident and effectively work collaboratively with others. Despite being paired up with strangers, my team and I still managed to collaborate ideally. We were still able to communicate effectively using social media tools and allocated times allowed during the program. Additionally, the program helped me immensely to advance my problem-solving skills. I was able to exercise this skill when I was tasked with formulating a solution that would assist Instituto Internacional de Educação do Brasil (IEB) in their current objective of empowering indigenous women within Brasil.
Consequently, I walked away from this program feeling more confident in my problem-solving abilities and even more confident in communicating effectively with other people. I am glad I decided to participate in this program because it broadened my understanding and view of the power dynamics between indigenous communities and their respective countries.
Additionally, I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals who shared my passion for understanding indigenous people and their struggles and are driven to create solutions to combat the challenges faced by these communities.