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.
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,
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.
I attended the Campus B Indigenous Rights and History in Brazil virtual programme from the 12 January 2021 to the 22 January 2021. This programme was primarily online with one culinary workshop onsite at the University of Auckland. The programme was attended by students from New Zealand, Brazil and Canada. Students were put into three groups initially and tasked with a project on indigenous rights to discuss and present to the other students on the final day of the programme.
The programme consisted of various presentations from academic staff, technical experts and indigenous peoples from Brazil. The topics that were discussed throughout the presentations included the history of indigenous rights in Brazil, the impacts of colonisation, the evolution of indigenous rights, the social and political context in Brazil and some of the legal and contemporary challenges for indigenous peoples including the impacts of Covid19. The presentations were engaging and very informative. Students were given the opportunity to ask the presenters various questions. I took this opportunity and asked many questions. I found this helpful to gain a deeper understanding of the issues being discussed.
I also observed similarities between the situation for indigenous peoples in Brazil and some of the challenges for indigenous peoples in New Zealand. The skill that I developed and enhanced throughout the programme was a greater awareness of the particular needs of not only Māori but indigenous peoples more generally. For example, I took the opportunity to ask the presenters who were indigenous to discuss some of the main challenges they face and to describe some of the goals and aspirations they have for their specific communities and indigenous peoples as a whole in Brazil. This skill is not only relevant to my studies and specialisation in indigenous rights and international law, but this skill is also highly relevant to my career in law and policy. Having a greater understanding and awareness of indigenous peoples needs will allow me to make informed decisions and take opportunities to advocate for these needs when possible. Having a strong understanding of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and its constitutional relevance in New Zealand I learnt how the history of indigenous peoples rights in Brazil has evolved very differently having no treaties forming the basis of colonisation.
I take away from the programme a greater awareness of the challenges that indigenous peoples face in Brazil and the importance of having a workable relationship between the State and it’s indigenous inhabitants. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn about the history of indigenous rights in Brazil particularly having no previous understanding about Brazil or its indigenous inhabitants. I am also grateful that the programme was available online given the travel restrictions. Although it is more challenging to get to know peers in a virtual learning space the programme was still highly successful in learning outcomes and opportunities. I would highly recommend the programme to future and prospective students who have a passion for indigenous rights. I would recommend for prospective students who attend the programme to prepare questions to ask the presenters, the presenters many who are indigenous are primary sources of information.