I attended an academic event that discussed the recent presidential election in Brazil. An extreme shift in Brazilian politics occurred on October 7, 2018. Jair Bolsonaro, a far right presidential candidate, was elected, will be inaugurated on January 1st, 2019. This was an surprising result considering that Brazil is a democratic country. Bolsonaro has defended dictatorship in the past and has denigrated women and minorities. The way he was able to win people over was by promising to oppress the frequent violent crimes in the country. But the way he plans on accomplishing this can be controversial. He wants to give the police more power to decrease the crime rate in the country. Even though this might seem like a good idea on the surface, giving police more power can be extremely dangerous especially since the police has enough power in Brazil. He states that police should be able to kill criminals without facing prosecution. This will potentially threaten the people by increasing the rate of police violence, which is already high in the country.
Bolsonaro is often compared to Donald Trump not only because of his sexist and racist remarks, but also because of his campaign and use of social media. He promises to “make Brazil great.” He is pushed against environmental regulations just like Trump critiques the landmark Paris climate accord. Bolsonaro plans on lowering taxes and privatizing the state companies. One of the things I found interesting is how the Brazilian citizens’ reaction to Bolsonaro aligned with US citizen’s reaction to Trump. Since what he offers is extremely different from other candidates, the Brazilian citizens seem attracted to his radical platform.
One topic discussed for a significant amount of time was his economic policies. Bolsonaro favors neoliberal approach when it comes to Brazil’s economy. His approach displays extensive liberalism never seen in the country before. I’m skeptical of his policies, however, since they seem to focus solely on the economic development, which does not necessarily mean socioeconomic development. The way everyone has to pay the same level of tax, whether you are poor or wealthy, seems extremely unfair since the poorer people will pay higher percentage of their income when the wealthy will pay only a small portion of their income.
Another topic discussed during the event was Bolsonaro’s plan on exploiting the amazon rainforest for oil. After doing further research on my own, I think this is less of an issue among his policies because he has more serious issues to face like the crime rate, economic failure, securing his policitical stability, etc. However, it is something that will be a problem later in his presidency if he decides to proceed with his plan to harvest the amazon’s riches. His pledge to rollback the protecting on the rain forest and indigenous rights set off an alarm among environmentalists and indigenous communities.
Overall, Brazil’s new presidential-elect could tremendously affect not only Brazil but also the global community. No one knows if the effects will be positive or negative yet, but the most people seem to fear that they will be harmful. I wasn’t even aware of the presidential election in Brazil until I attended this event. From this, I gained a deeper understanding not only of Bolsonaro’s policies but also the political, economic, and social status in Brazil. I also learned a lot from the further research I did on the changes the recent election will bring and the concerns regarding these changes.
I attended the IA-mini Involvement fair that happened on October 25, 2018. The set-up was just like the involvement fair that happened at the beginning of the year, allowing us to talk to organizations we’re interested in and seek opportunities. Even though it was much smaller than I thought it would be, I found this event helpful since it was less overwhelming than the involvement fair. It was also helpful since it only had organizations specifically geared toward International Affairs scholars’ interests. There were a couple organization that caught my attention, which I would consider getting involved in.
At the event, there were organizations that I already heard of and those that I didn’t know about. I’m already involved in AWOW, Advocates for Women of the World, and I was happy to see a friendly face there. I also had signed up to receive emails from MUNDO before the start of this semester when registering for housing. I had actually signed up without knowing exactly what it was, so talking to them helped me gain a better understanding of what they do. They’re a diversity, leadership, and service focused group, allowing students to connect with with each other while getting a chance to develop leadership and awareness.
I also talked to SLA, which stands for Student Leadership Advocates. From my understanding, SLA is basically an organization for organizations. They create workshops and retreats and facilitate them to help other student groups and students improve their leadership skills. Some topics they have programs on are icebreakers, team building, goal-setting, time management and stress relief, values clarification, recruitment and retention, officer transitions and so much more. I thought this group was unique in the sense that they serve other student organizations on campus. After learning about them, what they do really interested me especially since what they do not only help others build critical leadership skills, but also it would let me develop mine while serving other students. I also learned that there is an application process in order to become a part of this group. Applicants go through a competitive process to become a member.
Another group I talked to during this event was GHI, Global Health Initiative. Their colorful logo initially caught my eye, and then the name of the group. This organization advocate and raise awareness for global health. They do community service around Columbus throughout the school year and partners with a global non-profit organization called Peacework to go on international service trips over breaks. This year, they’re going to Malawi, Guatemala, and India for 2 weeks to host educational workshops, conduct health-related service projects, and do clinical volunteer work. Global health issue is something I’m passionate about especially as someone who wants to go into health care. After talking to the people that are already a member and learning about what they do, I want to get involved in this organization. I wanted to get involved in a service organization related to health care on campus. The agenda and the volunteering opportunities this group provides is something I would take advantage of.
I attended the Education Abroad Expo on September 4th. When walking into the event, the expo was a little overwhelming. I did not know which booth to approach at first, but I was able to direct myself to the tables beneficial to me according to the signs. I was a little skeptical, thinking that this wouldn’t help me that much, but I actually gained a lot of knowledge and encouraged me to research more opportunities regarding education abroad.
Even though I was able to obtain useful information, one thing that discouraged me during the event was the limited opportunities I have access to due to my major. There were various opportunities for language and humanities majors, but there weren’t booths specifically for STEM majors. There were a few research opportunities, but the only credits I could use from the experience were GE credits as a biomedical engineering major. However, since I was thinking about adding a humanities minor like human rights or peace studies, this was helpful for me in some way. I could kill two birds with one stone by fulfilling majority of the courses for the minor and studying abroad.
Also, there were some short-term opportunities like the Global May Program, which was the most realistic program for me if I don’t want it to interfere with my projected graduation date. Even though there’s a very slim chance that I’ll be able to pursue these, there were other programs that caught my eye as well. There was a program where you get on a boat and travel around the world. You spend a couple months on a boat while taking classes. The boat stops by more than 10 spots around the world, letting students travel and explore while taking their courses for school. I thought this was unique and fun even though I would be a little worried about getting sea sick. If I could fit this program into my schedule and find a course I can use for my studies, I would definitely consider this opportunity.
Studying abroad is something I really want to pursue. It’s an exceptional opportunity that you can only experience during your collegiate time. It would broaden my views, let me interact wider range of people, experience other cultures, and overall be a fun experience. Out of all the programs, the Global May Program is what caught my interest. I think the time might be a little too short, but would be enough for me to get a good insight in the country. It would be enough time to let me adjust to the new environment while not allowing me to get homesick.
Something else I started thinking about after the expo is how I can incorporate the study abroad experience with internships or co-ops. If I can work for a company outside of US, I would be able to take some components of the study abroad experience to the internship/co-op experience. I want to look more into these opportunities by researching online, attending other expos, or asking my adviser and friends.
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