The Brazilian Experience: Surveying Brazilian Culture Through Music and Education

    1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two
      or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project
      entailed.

    I traveled to Brazil, specifically the cities of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, as part of the OSU School of Music “Brazilian Experience” study abroad program. We learned through interacting with student musicians and master musicians about Brazil’s rich musical culture, along with the country’s history.

     

    1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your
      view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP
      Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or
      transformation that took place.

     

    I knew very little about Brazil before joining this program. The country’s history and culture are rarely discussed in American schools, and years of Spanish classes overlooked Brazil during history lessons for obvious reasons. I never thought that my first international adventure would be in Brazil, but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. This trip completely changed my view of the country, and I quickly went from knowing nothing to feeling very attached to its people, its culture, and its spirit.

     

    1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP
      Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in
      #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing
      the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project
      that led to this change/transformation.

     

    Before our departure, our group took two weeks of classes on OSU’s campus, in order to prepare ourselves for our journey. This class consisted of Brazilian history lessons, Brazilian culture discussions, Portuguese lessons, and analysis of Brazilian music. Rather than going to the country blind, this coursework gave us the context we would need to fully appreciate what we would be seeing, hearing, and doing in Brazil. We had a more rich experience because of this added dimension to our program.

    The unique aspect of this study abroad program was its focus on music, which gave us opportunities few visitors to Brazil ever have. We learned about Brazilian music in small, personal classes with Brazilian master musicians, entered the poorest neighborhoods in Salvador to work with students of a wide variety of ages, and performed American music for children and adults as a sort of cultural exchange. These experiences made our trip feel more personal, and we got to know the people we met in a deeper way through our shared language—music. Despite language barriers, we were always able to connect with others through music. This helped me truly understand how music can break down borders and bring people together, no matter where they are from.

    When we weren’t working with musicians in Brazil, we got to explore the cities of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, both with and without tour guides. We had two very knowledgeable tour guides—one for each city—who gave us context and history to what we were seeing, along with helping us translate when we had communication issues with locals. We were also allowed to explore unguided, which allowed us to experience more directly what day to day life is like in Brazil. Having the deep knowledge of our tour guides along with our independent excursions helped us understand Brazil in a thorough way.

     

    1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your
      life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or
      development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or
      professional goals and future plans.

     

    I strive to be a global citizen, and this program has allowed me vastly different experiences from what I’ve had living in the U.S.. As a musician, learning about Brazilian music and history in the places where it grew has expanded my musical palate and introduced me to an entirely new world of sound that I was unaware of before. In my professional career, I want to develop technology to further music and musicians across the world, and this STEP project gave me great insight as to what student musicians need to perform their art to the highest degree possible. I hope to return to Brazil one day, and explore more of the country that opened my eyes to the world.