Brazilian Overall Experience

Curitiba Travel Blog

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I really wanted to save this last blog to write about my overall impression of Brazil. We arrived approximately 19 days ago and I’ve learned a lot in this short period of time. My most influential impressions have been the history of the country, the race problems, and the political system of the country.

The history of Brazil is different than any other country I have learned about. The fact that they were a colony of Portugal says a lot, in my opinion. Here you have this tiny little country that has almost no significance, and that I usually forget is even a part of Europe, controlling the 5th largest country in the world! I’m not exactly sure when Brazil’s borders were decided, but I’m sure they realized this was going to be a large piece of land. Imagine what Brazil has done for the Portuguese language. If Brazil had been discovered by Spain and spoke Spanish as their national language, Portuguese would be almost a forgotten language spoken in very remote and small areas of the world. After they bloodlessly became independent from Portugal they lived through a monarch for 80 years. Everything was going great for the country. They were enjoying the beaches and the riches. They were friendly with the Indians and had slaves from Africa to do all their work for them. Their ruler still had Daddy back home in Portugal to rely on if anything bad happened. That sounds like pretty easy times to me. No civil wars, no fights with the Indians, and no horrible slavery maltreatment. Brazil was a land of opportunity, not a land of trouble. As Alexandre Graeml told us during the Business in Brazil lecture, Brazil has opportunities everywhere you look, even to this day. Though they experienced military dictatorship, there were never any revolts or revolutions. The people dealt with the dictatorship without a second word. It was much milder than other Latin American countries, too. Brazil seems to always get the best of everything.

As we’ve heard many times, this history says a lot about how the country is today. The people have never had to go through a horrible crisis, depression, or war. That has such a huge impact on a population! Their mindset had been molded differently than a country that has dealt with problems forever, such as an African country. Brazil is a developed country, but not highly developed. This just means they have room for improvement. I really believe they can make this change in the future. With cities like Curitiba and bright intellects like Roberto Carlos, they have a chance. Give Brazil time and they’ll be playing in the big leagues soon enough.

The issues with Brazil’s race conflict are also very different from anything I have ever studied. Granted, I’ve really only learned about the United States problems so I don’t have a lot of comparisons to make. I’m reading through The Brazilian Reader right now and they have many interesting articles about Brazil’s race differences from the United States. First of all, Brazil started out as a very diverse nation. They had Europeans from many nations, indigenous Indians, and Africans in slavery. The interesting thing that I remember reading somewhere is the fact that they wanted to mix the races. Dr. Bowman talked about how the Portuguese men were very attracted to the Indian women since they looked like Moorish women. Even more interesting was that the Indian men freely gave their women to these European settlers. I also recall that the white men were having intercourse with the African women slaves to purposely have mixed babies. This flexibility of mixing the races reflects on the current population. No one has a clue what he or she is! In one of the articles in The Brazilian Reader, the author makes a point to note that Brazilians look at their skin color only. It doesn’t matter what their parent’s races are. They look at their skin and note the color: honey, light-tanned, reddish. The one article that had all of the different ways that people described themselves was very eye opening. Being American, I would never think to consider myself tanned or brown-haired. I can see why there is such a huge problem with distinguishing the races in Brazil. I’m glad that they don’t consider it such a huge deal as we do in America. I feel like they are much more accepting of any race in Brazil, whereas in America, there is still a lot of racism and prejudice. Maybe I need to spend more time in Brazil to fully study how the races interact, but from my experience so far, it seems like everyone mixes quite well.

Every lecture we have on the political system of the country shows the system as more and more “sketchy”, for lack of a better word. Jack Cason first introduced us to the broad idea of the importance of the candidate and not the political party. This is very odd to begin with. I’ve never heard of another country that had this issue (again, I haven’t studied very many countries political system). The effect of not having defined political parties taking sides on all of the issues of the country has to be detrimental in the long run. I can’t imagine this going on for much longer without blowing up into a huge problem. One day an extremely corrupt president is going to be voted in because half of the voters are probably voting on all the wrong reasons: charisma, appearance, and promises. I think Brazil got extremely lucky with Lula. I think his “success story” is touching, but who, in their right mind, votes for someone who isn’t educated and worked in a metal factory for most of their life? This really doesn’t make much sense to me. Thank goodness he was wise enough to make some decent decisions to help the country out with social problems. However, I think that may be all that he knows how to do. If he says in much longer, he’s going to really need to rethink his strategy because Brazil needs a lot of help in other places such as investment, as Professor Graeml showed us with the chart.

To sum everything up, I have really enjoyed learning about the Brazilian government, people, and culture. Being a business-minded individual and having an A-type personality, I love the fact that Brazil isn’t “finished” yet. I get so bored with the United States because we don’t have huge problems like Brazil has. But that only means they have lots of improving to look forward to. I can’t wait to see what happens to Brazil in the future.

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photo by: joesu