Brazil Studies program promotes a global understanding of culture on campus

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Cyrus Norcross | The Daily Wildcat

Dancers share the Colheita Dance on the University of Arizona Mall during Brazilian Independence Day on Sept. 7. The traditional dance represents the annual bean harvest in rural Brazil.

The University of Arizona's Center for Latin American Studies offers several opportunities for students and faculty to expand their knowledge of Brazilian culture through its new Brazilian Studies program.

Earlier this year, the International Studies and Foreign Language Grant allowed the UA to create a Certificate in Brazilian Studies. The new program offers several opportunities for students to explore Brazilian culture and form a community on campus.

One recent event held to promote the Brazilian Studies program and Brazilian culture was the CLAS Brazilian Independence Day Party on the UA Mall. The Sept. 7 party showcased Brazilian food, clothing, music and offered a chance to meet professors in the program. There were also performances from Axé Capoeira Tucson, a local group that specializes in the Afro-Brazilian martial art, according to its website.

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Clea Conlin, an alumna of the university’s Latin American Studies program, now works as program coordinator for the CLAS. She helped create the event and hopes to bring even more awareness to the Brazilian and greater Latin American community on campus.

“We’re so close to Mexico that the influence and connection is quite strong," Conlin said. "At all our events, we see big turnout and support and we want to keep promoting that on campus."

According to Conlin, the CLAS plans to hold a lecture series this year, covering topics such as the Mexican border and Brazilian identity, bringing in Brazilian scholars as guest lecturers. There are also plans for a film series, a film course and a special Capoeira course in the spring.

Juan Zozaya is a student worker at the CLAS  and promotes events like the Brazilian Independence Day Party.

Cyrus Norcross | The Daily Wildcat

Aquil Joel Hameed, left, and Alex Abdur-Rahman, right, play Brazilian music for the crowd on Sept. 7 at the Brazilian Indepence Day celebration on the University of Arizona Mall.

“Through adrenaline-fueled exhibitions of Capoeira, a traditional Afro-Brazilian inspired martial art, the sweet-sounding reverberating beat of drums in Brazilian music genres such as samba, sertanejo and maracatu and flavorful bite-size Pan de Queijo pieces (Brazilian cheese bread), students are immersed with the culture of faraway lands by having their five senses culturally stimulated,” Zozaya wrote in an email.

Events like the Brazilian Independence Day Party allow students to gain a greater understanding of Latin American cultures.

“To students such as myself who have never visited a country in South America or are unfamiliar with Brazilian culture, these events bridge the gap of unfamiliarity,” Zozaya wrote.

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Mia Carvalho Guimaraes, an undergraduate student and student worker with the CLAS, is part of the Brazilian community on campus. Guimaraes, whose parents are from São Paulo, Brazil, spends most summers with her family in Brazil. Her mother is also a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. Because of her connection to the Latin American studies program, she knows over 25 UA faculty and students in the Brazilian community.

Cyrus Norcross | The Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona AXE Capoeira Club leads a Maculele dance that involves sticks at the Brazilian Independence Day celebration on the University of Arizona Mall.

“Brazilian culture impacts the UA in a lot of ways, especially because there are so many Brazilian students here," Guimaraes said. "Seeing Brazilian culture on campus makes me and other Brazilian students feel more at home, which makes us feel like we belong at the university. Having a Brazil Studies program is also important because it connects the UA to Tucson communities."

There are more ways to celebrate Brazilian culture on campus in the future. UA Presents will host Brasil Guitar Duo, with guitarists João Luiz and Douglas Lora on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Crowder Hall.


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