Committee approves Brazil for OU Education Abroad program
OU students will have the opportunity to spend their summer studying in Brazil next year after an advisory committee approved a new program.
The Committee on Latin America, a regional advisory group the university works with to promote study-abroad opportunities, unanimously approved OU’s proposal to add the Brazil program, said Alice Kloker, OU Education Abroad director.
Committee officials encouraged faculty members to submit proposals for a 2013 journey trip, and professor Erika Larkins proposed Brazil as a location, Kloker said.
“[Larkins] brings a great deal of expertise to this program, and it will be a tremendous opportunity for OU students to earn academic credit next summer in one of the most important countries in the world,” Kloker said.
Although the exact details of the program are still being worked out, the program is set to take place over a four-week period in June 2013. The trip will be comparable in price to current Journey to Latin American programs, said Larkins, who is leading the trip.
Larkins is an anthropologist by training and has traveled to Brazil for research and recreation for almost 20 years, she said.
Visiting and studying Brazil is important to succeed in the future, Larkins said.
“Brazil is the country of the future,” Larkins said. “By all indications, it’s going to be a world leader and economic powerhouse in the years to come. Knowing something about Brazilian history, language and culture is not just for those in majors directly centered on these topics but will make students studying business, or in the sciences, more marketable.”
There will be no language prerequisites, the program is open to all majors and Larkins will teach the two courses, she said. However, with Portuguese now being offered again in the fall term, some language background can only enhance student experience.
More information about the trip is scheduled to be available to students later this summer on the Education Abroad website.
The program is currently set to take place between two cities in Brazil: Salvador da Bahia for the first two weeks and Rio de Janeiro for the second two weeks of the program, Larkins said.
Salvador da Bahia in the Northeast of Brazil once was the colonial capital, she said. Here, students will study the early history, indigenous groups, slavery and emancipation.
Students also will study the Afro-Brazilian culture to learn about capoeira (a mixture of martial arts and music), regional cuisine and the practice of African-derived religions.
Plans are being made for an excursion to a national park to study Brazil’s environmental movements and biodiversity, Larkins said.
In Rio de Janeiro, students will have the opportunity to learn about Carnaval (a festival), samba (a dance), soccer and the local beach culture, as well as exploring social problems in Brazil, she said.
The last weekend of the program may involve a service-learning opportunity for students to team up with a local non-profit organization to alleviate poverty and improve healthcare.
Students in the program will post photos and writings on Facebook, Twitter and a travel blog to share the Brazilian experience with everyone, Larkins said.
“I love Brazil and really can’t wait to show students all the things that make it such a vibrant and unique place,” Larkins said.