Document Sample
brr_overview Powered By Docstoc
					         Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development
                         Spring 2011/Fall 2011
As the world’s fifth largest country and the sixth most widely spoken language in the
world (Portuguese), Brazil is home to over 188 million people (51% of the population of
South America). Brazil borders the Atlantic Ocean and every country in South America,
except Ecuador and Chile. Brazil has the most diversity of flora and fauna in the world
and the most extensive network of natural resources.
Colonized by Portugal in 1500, Brazil did not attain its independence until 1822 and
ratified its constitution in 1824. Currently, there are 26 states and 5,564 Municipalities.
The largest cities lie along the coast and population density decreases as you move
west into the more rural areas of the country. A diverse population (European,
Amerindian, African and Asian) makes up the Brazilian population as a result of slavery
from Africa and mass immigration from other regions of the world. Brazil, for example,
has the largest African population outside of Africa. The predominant religion in Brazil is
Catholicism and Brazil is home to the largest Roman Catholic population in the world.
Brazil has become a leader in the world in agriculture, mining, industrial and service
sectors and has recently conducted large-scale privatization throughout the country,
placing the nation as a global economic competitor.
Located in the state of Ceará, Fortaleza (meaning Fortress in Portuguese) has a
population of 2.4 million people and sits on the Atlantic Ocean, and as a result is a
popular beach town for visitors.

There are three general regions in Brazil: the tropical, heavily forested Amazon Basin in
the north and northwest which covers half of the country, the high northeastern semi-arid
scrub-land which is heavily settled and poor, and the south-central uplands and
mountainous coastal belt which has the best climate and most resources. Most of the
country lies in the Torrid Zone, but altitude, winds, and rainfall produce variety in climate.
In tropical and subtropical regions, the year is divided into dry and wet seasons. In the
central and southern areas, changes of temperature are more pronounced. Remember
that you will be in different areas with different climates and needs.
Average maximum and minimum temperatures in Fahrenheit for coastal northeast
Brazil, including Fortaleza, and Salvador:
Average Fortaleza maximum and minimum temperatures in Fahrenheit:
   January         February       March          April             May
    86-77           86-77         86-77          85-75            83-74
 September         October      November       December
    82-73           84-75         85-76          85-77

SIT Study Abroad                      Updated 3/4/2011                                      1
The humidity and precipitation are high. The wettest months are from March to June and
the rest of the year is comparatively dry. Sea breezes temper daytime heat.

Meal times in Brazil are generally similar to those in the United States; however people
tend to eat less quantity of food than is accustomed in the U.S. The staple diet in Brazil
is rice and beans, supplemented with whatever meat or green vegetables are available.
Bread, pasta, chicken and eggs have become more important and common in lower-
income families due to their cheap prices.
There is a great variety of foods in Fortaleza: fruits, vegetable, meats and lots of
seafood. A typical meal would consist of: rice and beans, meat, salad and fruit. Meals
generally tend to be on the spicy side. It is always a good idea to be very honest with
your host family as to what you like and dislike, as this will inform the remaining weeks of
your semester. Generally, there is one individual in the home that does the majority of
the cooking. Vegetarians can manage their diets in Fortaleza, but it may require a bit
more effort on their part and is subject to availability of vegetables in the market. People
in this region generally tend to eat larger meals for breakfast and lunch and either small
dinners or none at all. Be clear with your family about what your dietary needs.
Note: if medically you have special dietary needs, including allergies, please inform our
office prior to the start of your program. We will advise you on realistic expectations
about avoiding or incorporating certain foods within the program context. In some
locations, we cannot guarantee zero exposure to certain foods or a given allergen.

As many SIT Study Abroad alumni will tell you, the homestay experience can be one of
the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of the program. You will learn first-
hand the joys and responsibilities of being a guest, a family member, and a friend. You
will also have the opportunity to share your culture and to learn from another’s culture.
We hope you will come prepared for the experience and committed to moving beyond
cultural immersion as you begin to question, distinguish, and analyze the host culture
vis-à-vis your own culture and come to a deeper understanding of both.
Family structures vary in every culture, and SIT Study Abroad values the diversity of
homestay families. Your family may include a single mother of two small children or a
large extended family with many people coming and going all the time, as only two
examples. They may be quite familiar with your hometown or with international students,
or your homestay family may not know much about where you come from. You will need
to be prepared to adapt to a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and
Each program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing students in
homestays. These placements are made first based on health concerns, including any
allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Please note: SIT will not have
information about your homestay family before you depart for the program.
In this program, you will be staying in two homestays. The majority of your time will be
spent with your urban homestay in Fortaleza (approximately 7 weeks). Students are
spread out in clusters throughout the city in homes of varying socio-economic levels.
This will be your base during the semester while you have excursions throughout the
region. Your second homestay will be with a MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores
Rurais Sem-Terra) family. This short experience will allow for you to gain insight into the

SIT Study Abroad                     Country Overview                                     2
                                     Updated 3/4/2011
realities of this movement and rural life in Brazil. You should expect limited resources
during this brief homestay.

Other accommodations include hostels, private homes and small hotels.
During the ISP portion, it can be possible for students to extend their time with homestay
families, but this agreement will have to be made between the individual student and the
homestay family. Other options can include a room in a hostel, homestay within a rural
community or other agreements determined by you, your advisor and the academic

Transportation on a daily basis will include either public bus or walking. Specifics on
public transportation in Fortaleza are discussed in detail during your orientation upon
arrival in-country. During excursions, the group will primarily be using private vehicles.

In addition to tuition, SIT Study Abroad program fees cover room and board throughout
the program. When room and/or board is not taken with the group, students will be given
a stipend to cover related expenses. The program will cover travel costs for excursions
that are part of the normal program itinerary. During the ISP, students will receive a
stipend for basic room and board based on the cost of living at the program base. Any
domestic travel, interpretation services, or supplies necessary for the ISP are the
students’ responsibility. Please plan accordingly.

 If using a debit and/or credit card, you should contact your bank and/or credit card
companies regarding your travel plans. You should also check on costs of withdrawal,
as these costs vary and can sometimes be very expensive.
Following are suggestions for spending money during the program, including estimates
for textbooks, ISP-related expenses, medical expenses, personal spending and gifts.

SIT Study Abroad                    Country Overview                                    3
                                    Updated 3/4/2011
Figures are based on recent student evaluations, though individual spending habits vary
widely and these costs are averages.
Personal costs - $1000 USD
Visa registration (in Brazil) - $150 USD
Books and supplies - $200 USD
Travel expenses and additional expenses for ISP - $300 USD
Medical expenses – $200 USD (it is always a good idea to carry an extra credit card in
case of any unforeseen medical expenses)
A suggested total amount of money to bring ranges from US$1000 - $2000. To
determine where you might fall in this range, please examine your spending habits
during a typical semester at your home school and consider any exceptional
expenditures you may have on the program, including travel costs for your planned ISP
or a specific personal expense.
Those who wish to travel after the program or spend heavily on local crafts, gifts, etc.
should obviously bring more money. Travelers Checks may be hard to change and not
give good exchange rates, but still the safest way to bring your money in to Brazil (we
recommend American Express travelers checks in denominations of $50 and $100
USD). Cash is usually easier and faster to change and gets better exchange rates, but
there is no insurance in case of loss or other problems. Person to person money wires
from the US are difficult, timely and sometimes expensive. Credit cards (VISA,
MasterCard) work at many places in the major cities, but not in the rural areas. ATM
cards (Cirrus and PLUS) also work in Brazil’s major cities. However, do not rely on an
ATM card or wire transfers for money. Whatever arrangement you make, make sure to
bring enough for the entire duration of the program and have at least about $ 200.00 in
cash for possible emergencies.
Please remember these two items regarding expenses on the program:
2. Any travel expenses during the ISP period are not covered by the program, so if you
   choose to travel outside of Fortaleza, be sure to budget for transportation. In the
   past, students have spent between $50-550 (air travel in Brazil is very expensive) for
   ISP transportation.
3. Any medical expenses that you incur will need to be paid out of pocket at the time of
   service. Doctor’s visits are about $100, including most medication. Emergencies
   could cost considerably more. SIT’s insurance will reimburse you later under the
   terms of the coverage.

While you may want to be in regular communication with friends and family from home
during the term abroad, please bear in mind that different time zones, unreliable phone
lines, and changing program activities can complicate communication. We have a few
suggestions regarding communication during the term, based upon our experience.
It’s important to be clear with family and friends about your availability during the term.
Many students recommend making an appointment to call home or to receive a call,
thereby avoiding frustration and making connections more meaningful. You should also
consider the impact of constant communication with friends and family at home on your
cultural immersion. While you are encouraged to share with those close to you and use
them for support whenever necessary, it is also important to remember that you are on
the program for just one term, and that you get out of the program what you put into it.

SIT Study Abroad                    Country Overview                                     4
                                    Updated 3/4/2011
Mail to Brazil can take anywhere from seven days to three weeks. Using pen and paper
to communicate with home is encouraged! In these days of instant communication,
writing and receiving letters allows you to retain your cultural immersion while still
sharing your experience with family and friends. Please discourage family and friends
from sending packages as you may have to pay expensive custom taxes and the
packages may not arrive. The preferred courier service to Brazil is DHL. You will be
able to phone home as often as you like from Fortaleza as long as you bring a reliable
calling card (AT&T, MCI and Sprint all work well). E-mail and Internet access are
available through SIT Office and Internet cafes in Fortaleza.
Many students in the past have chosen to purchase cell phones once in Brazil to
facilitate their communications both within Brazil and abroad. There are a variety of
plans available in Brazil. Being accessible by cell phone is also a great way to remain
connected with the program staff in case of an emergency.
Eastern Brazil is situated in the BRT Time zone. This means that during daylight
savings time Eastern Brazil is 2 hours ahead of EST and the rest of the year is only 1
hour ahead of EST.
Your student mailing address will be the following:
                                     [Student Name]
                        Bill Calhoun/ World Learning do Brasil
                                   Caixa Postal 52814
                                    Agencia Aldeota
                      Fortaleza, Ceara, CEP: 60150-970 BRASIL

Parents or friends may wish to visit students while they are abroad. This can be a
wonderful experience; however we strongly urge that such visits take place after the
program's conclusion. Based on our experience, we know that visits can take significant
time away from the program as well as cause emotional tension, while also disrupting
academic focus and the cycle of cultural immersion and integration. Please note that
any visitors during the course of the program must plan their own independent
accommodations; SIT Study Abroad homestay families can accommodate only
their assigned student and, due to cultural and contractual understandings with
SIT, should not be asked to host students’ guests.
During the program, students follow an intense schedule of classes and field-based
learning assignments, even during the ISP. Free time for pursuing an independent
interest or hobby during the program will be limited. Your admissions counselor can
advise you about particular interests you may have. For example, if you must keep in
shape for your next athletic season, or if you play a musical instrument and want to know
whether to bring it, we can help you to understand your schedule and any concerns or
limitations that may exist. Please note that you will not have a long break during the
program, such as Thanksgiving or Spring Break.

Students have four weeks to conduct research, gather and analyze data, write the
paper, and prepare for the presentation. There is a lot to cover, and students find ISP a
very busy time. For this reason, please plan to use your time wisely.

SIT Study Abroad                    Country Overview                                        5
                                    Updated 3/4/2011