Through their eyes: Student perspectives on GLP’s Brazil Symposium

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Salvador | Brasilia | Rio

“Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
— Pat Conroy, author. 

The notion of Brazil conjures up images of bright beach scapes, rain forests bustling with wildlife, football, food, and a little festival called Carnival. It is, of course, all of these things. But Brazil is also so much more.

The GLP’s International Symposium to Brazil delves into the political, cultural and diplomatic history of South America’s largest country. Students experience firsthand the rich fabric of Brazil’s cultural heritage, whilst also gaining insight into some of the most compelling issues on Brazil’s national agenda today through a range of briefings with diplomats, non-government organisations, community groups and university students.

Last week GLP caught up with three delegates from last year’s International Symposium to Brazil.

We asked them, almost a year on, what person, place or topic in Brazil do they still reflect on now? 

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Shelby S
Bachelor Law/Arts majoring in Social Justice

“The Symposium enlightened and inspired me with such depth and beauty – and as a student, has allowed me to discover my passion for human rights.

Immersing ourselves in tours around the neighbourhood of Rio Vermelho in southern Salvador and Pelourinho, Salvador’s historical down town showed us first-hand the blending of European and African cultures – with the contrast between the historical, slightly run-down buildings and lively, bustling shopkeepers and citizens being truly indicative of the city’s diversity.

Brazil undoubtedly changed my life for the better. Let it change yours.”

After attending the GLP Symposium to Brazil in 2015, Shelby decided to change her degree to reflect the passion for social justice that she developed in Brazil. 

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James B
Bachelor of Arts – Politics & International Relations, Spanish and Human Rights Law & Development

“…nothing compares to forming one’s own conclusions and ideas by experiencing this flux in power, from the few to the many, on the ground.

In the old capital of Salvador, a discourse of the racial inequalities is facilitated through music and dance as the cultural connection to African roots. Organisations like Instituto Mídia Étnica, the cross-platform media network dedicated to Afro-Brazilian issues, furthers this dynamic. Inequalities in income, access to services, housing, work and political empowerment have pushed Brazil into a new phase of self-actualisation, as what some say is corruption and ineffectual leadership become less and less tolerable to a population that is newly empowered.”

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Gabby H
Bachelor of Commerce (Commercial Law)/Bachelor of Laws 

“…there is beauty in these communities unlike anything else I had ever seen. The favela is bustling. Young boys shoot for makeshift goals and around every corner, and the sound of music and drumming is rife.

When I think of Brazil, two things come to mind: football and music. Our visit to Cantagalo favela brought these two together. Cantagalo is home to thousands, its houses stacked like blocks stretch up the hills just back from the picturesque beaches of Copacabana.  We were guided through the steep and weaving staircases with the help of a local guide who has lived his whole life in the favela.”

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“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett, author.  

Applications for the Global Leadership Program’s Symposium to Brazil (17 – 30 September) are now open. The Symposium is open to all Macquarie students.

Email glp@mq.edu.au for more information, and a link to the application form.

Applications close 9am, Monday 30 May.

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