Tag Archives: Brazil

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Amazonas: The Open Border – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Amazonas: The Open Border – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

LauraAmazon2

(Capybara in Spanish is chiguiro. The nature reserve threw their food waste into the same area every evening, and a family of chiguiros would stop by to eat the scraps in the morning.)

I was really surprised when I told the professors at my university that I was going to visit Amazonas before returning home for Christmas and the only response I got was “Why wouldn’t you want to go to the coast for your vacation time?”

LauraAmazon1

When I was actually in Amazonas, a lot of tour guides and various individuals that we met during our ten day trip asked us the same question: “Why do foreigners always want to visit the Amazon?” I’m not really sure what the answer is, but I know that from my personal experience that I grew up learning about the Amazon as a mythical, majestic, wonderful place. I played Amazon Trail for hours on the computer in elementary school, and in science classes throughout my education we would learn with awe about the wonders of the Amazon.

In Colombia, it’s a little less awe-inspiring for a very specific reason.

I and several friends of mine in the Fulbright program spent, all together, ten days in Amazonas, the region in the south of Colombia that shares a part of the Amazon rain forest that also extends into Peru and Brazil. It’s an open-border area, which means that throughout our travels we spent several days in Peru and Brazil, but we were never required to present a passport. We were only required to declare if we were bringing more than two products of another country back into Colombia due to economic sanctions in the area.

Our first two days were spent at a nature reserve in Peru. We hiked, napped in hammocks, fished, kayaked, hung out with capybaras, and searched for caimans (alligators) at night. At the end of our two days, we returned to Leticia, the capital of Amazonas in Colombia, and stayed at a hotel from which we made two additional overnight excursions into Peru and Brazil, as well as a few different day trips into Brazil. We were only once required to exchange pesos for reales (the currency of Brazil), and it was to pay for a lunch that we bought in Tabatinga. Tabatinga and Leticia are more or less the same city, but they are divided by a political boundary on maps and a series of small signs that we accidentally missed the first time we entered Brazil.

Our guide that stayed with us for our ten days in Amazonas explained that while she was a Colombian citizen, she chose to live in Brazil because rent was cheaper. There was no paperwork to fill out. There was no citizenship to apply for. She simply paid her rent each month and crossed the border whenever she wanted to go in to Leticia, which is quite often because she does most of her grocery shopping there.

It was very interesting seeing how the three countries were so fluid in this area. Of course, in the jungle there was no way to tell if you were in a Peruvian river or a Colombian river, but even in the cities there was very little to alert you to the fact that you had entered another country. In Brazil, the signs are all in Portuguese, but Portuguese and Spanish are such similar languages that I often found myself reading the signs and wondering why the Spanish had been spelled so strangely.

LauraAmazon3

(Is this a Peruvian, Colombia, or Brazilian river? I have no idea. I also have no idea how the guides remembered where to go in the different branches of the river, especially since the landscape changes so drastically depending on the season.)

Back to the question: Why is the Amazon not quite so awe-inspiring to Colombians?

Amazonas is the place that many high schoolers visit on their end-of-the-year-trip. At many of the nature reserves that hosted visitors, we were confused about the sheer number of beds, showering facilities, and hammocks that existed until our guide would explain that each location often hosted large groups of high schoolers from international or private schools throughout Colombia.

LauraAmazon4

(They’re not actually called river grapes, but I like to call them Amazonian River Grapes. Unlike other grapes, they grow on trees and the best way to get them down is to hit the tree with a stick (very scientific). You have to peel the skin off the outside of the grape before you eat it or else you risk getting abrasions on the inside of your mouth because the skin is like sandpaper.)

At the first nature reserve that we stayed at there were three school groups also there. One group was from Cali, a city on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. The other two groups were from Bogota–like us! The first night that we stayed at the reserve there were only the five of us, but on the second night the 120 bed facility was nearly full! Another group of high school students also stopped by in the middle of the day.

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About our special correspondent Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Free-Willed – Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Johanna Jurgens. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Free-Willed – Family and World History — The North Star Reports – by Johanna Jurgens. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Brazil_topo[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Brazil_topo.jpg]

Families and cultures throughout the centuries are not that different from how they are today. I’ve found many connections between my family and thousand-year-old cultures and realized that every person has to adapt to something new.

My Italian grandfather – my mother’s father – immigrated to the South of Brazil around the beginning of the 1900s. The South was chosen because of its colder weather, which is more similar to the weather in Europe than that of northern Brazil, so it would be easier for my grandfather to adapt. However, my grandfather was not the only one to immigrate to Brazil; many families from all over the world, especially Germany, Japan, Italy, Portugal and Spain, were seeking a better life. The largest influx of immigrants settled in Brazil from 1872 to 1972. People immigrated mostly because overpopulation and industrialization in their home countries resulted in shortages of jobs. Since many of these people were farmers, they moved to the United States or Brazil due to the vast amount of unoccupied land following Brazil’s independence in 1822 and abolition of slavery in 1888. Brazil needed farmers to come to work and help the country rise economically since there were no more slaves to do the farm work. Many started working on farms and soon had enough money to buy their own land, and that’s what my grandfather did. Much like the United States, immigrants comprised much of the Brazilian population.

My grandfather was able to buy many acres of land and create his own vineyard. In the process of all this, my grandfather met my gypsy grandmother. My grandmother had to adapt to my grandfather’s customs. She began working on the farm, and from what I heard, she was usually the one who gave the orders. She even made her own ritual with the other women who worked at the farm. At the end of every week they would get together to dance, listen to music, and drink chimarrão (a drink similar to tea). She also learned how to make exceptionally good Italian food, and was always a great contributor to the family reunions which usually happened every weekend after a hard week of work. Similar to the Greek symposium, my family would cook a lot of food and eat for hours and hours. My family has always drunk a lot of wine, so they always had plenty. But unlike the Greek symposium, women participated in the reunion as much as the men did.

During the family reunions and family meals during the week, they ate typical Italian food. It was all handmade spaghetti, polenta, bread, cheese, tortellini, gnocchi, cappelletti soup, crostoli, and many other kinds of food. My whole family had a part in cooking and it was an excuse for the family to spend more time together. Recipes were learned from our parents or grandparents. It was much different from today, when we usually learn how to cook by recipe books, which I believe has destroyed the family’s time together.

For my family, it has always been considered an art to make food taste the best you can. Food has always played an important role for my family because it was always a good excuse for gatherings, and eating and loving food is a trait we share. Food has played an important role in most cultures; its importance throughout history is clear.

My family has always been free-willed much like the people of the Etruscan civilization, where women were seen as equal in power to men and were given the same rights. I’ve realized in my family there were no roles which different sexes had to play; my family has always done what they thought was best. My grandmother is a perfect example– she went to live with the gypsies just because she wanted to. But because. At first I did not understood why my free-willed relatives were often seen as crazy but now I do. By listening to our hearts and not following society’s standards we are bound to be seen that way. It’s a good thing we don’t mind. [From Professor Liang’s 2014 World History II class.]


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes