On January 2, a select group of 15 Texas A&M International University students will travel to Brazil as part of the University’s “Reading the Globe Program.”
The students participated in the University's Common Read and through a competitive application, essay and interview, have been selected to participate in the "Reading the Globe" study travel opportunity. The selection of travel to Brazil was framed by the setting of the Common Read book for Fall 2019, the acclaimed "Never Stop Walking" by Christina Rickardsson. Richardsson visited with TAMIU students this semester and offered personal insight into her text and personal journey.
Students participating in the program include: Cynthia Aradillas, Rebecca Canales, Chelsea Fuentes, Cristina Garcia, Maritza Garcia, Edith Garza, Samantha Lara, Hannah Loring, Lourdes Marques, Anaiz Martinez, Daniela Palacios, Mary Patricio, Juan Manuel Sanchez, Jorge De Los Santos, and Aleyda Sarabia.
Their time in Brazil is highly structured with academic classes, guest lectures, related tours and a service-learning opportunity.
Launched in 2008, the Reading the Globe program requires all First Year students to read a book focused on an international topic. This book is read and discussed as part of the UNIV1101 freshman seminar curriculum, Learning in a Global Environment I. The Common Read Program provides the opportunity for discourse about the issues relevant to students, and raises social awareness on a local and global scale. The program also shares the experience with the City of Laredo as the selected book is part of its "One City, One Book" program.
To date TAMIU Reading the Globe student groups have traveled to Cambodia, Russia, Bosnia, China, Chile, Croatia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey.
Their journey and experiences will be shared right here with regular blog entries being posted as they are on their travels.
January 2, 2020
Departing from Laredo, Texas Airport
To see more photos, follow the adventure on Instagram - @TAMIUreadingtheglobe
Our first full day in Diamantina, Minas Gerais, was adventurous albeit a little wet! We went by bus to Christina’s cave; it took about half an hour to arrive at our destination because of the unpaved roads. Many rocks created an uneven terrain which resulted in a rollercoaster of a bus ride. Lush green vegetation surrounded us. Along the way, Thiago, our tour guide, and Christina, the author, lectured us about the diverse wildlife such as giant rodents and felines, snakes, bats, and spiders. Once we arrived near the site of her first home, we prepped our sunscreen, bug spray, and shoe covers. We hiked through large boulders, rough and tall plants, and wet surfaces. The bond between all of us strengthened as we lent each other’s hands to climb. It was intriguing to see Christina's dauntless behavior in the outdoors come to life rather than reading it from her memoir, "Never Stop Walking". While some of us were frightened to fall, Christina and Thiago, encouraged us to keep going. We also passed by Christina's second cave which she used as a guide to find her way back home. We visited a beautiful waterfall where we all swam. The water was freezing, the floor shallow, but it was an amazing experience. The day ended with a late lunch at Biri-Biri. We ate freshly picked mangos and pastels. On the bus ride back to the hotel, we discussed social responsibility and our essays. Obrigado! Ciao!
Mary Joy Patricio
TAMIU Reading the Globe Ambassador
After a few days of touring Diamantina and having the opportunity to see Christina’s book come to life, we hit the road and made our way to Belo Horizonte. A little over five hours later, we arrived at Belo; we had a delectable lunch at Filé and a flavorous dessert at Frutos De Goiás. With a satiated appetite, we then visited the Lago De Pampulha, a man-made lagoon built in 1914. At the time of its creation, it was a very clean lagoon; however, due to pollution, it is now not very safe to swim in. Juscelino Kubitscheck, the then mayor of Belo Horizonte, is responsible for ordering the construction of this lake. Lining the outskirts of this lake is a beautiful garden designed by Roberto Burle Marx. Near it, there is a church called the Capela São Francis De Assis, designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer. A well-known communist, Niemeyer ingeniously implemented the symbol of communism into the architecture of the church. With two columns perpendicularly perched, and the curve of the building itself, it was easy to see the political reference. Inside the church, we studied various artworks by Cândido Portinari, one of the most famous Brazilian painters, and Alfredo Ceschiatti. Portinari’s artistic ability along with his use of blue paint contrasted beautifully with the white tiles of the church. Ceschiatti’s Biblical paintings possessed exquisite hues of blue, red, brown, and white, forming an intricate display of congruence. Once we finished looking at the inside of the church, we boarded the bus for a short tour of the buildings around the lagoon, which included former Casino Pampulha Art Museum and the Yacht Tennis Club. Finally, we drove to the airport for the flight to São Paulo and checked into our hotel, eager to shower, sleep, and see what will be in store for us the next day.
We had the privilege of spending the day with Christina Rickardsson, the author of Never Stop Walking. It was special to be able to visit the locations that were mentioned in the book and have Christina explain her personal stories, rather than just reading about them. First, we visited the church where Christina and her mother attended, and she shared her memories with us. After a short walk we ended up at a bus station where she and her mother sat and tried to sell things or beg for money. She explained how so many people ignored them or said evil things, and at that age, she could not understand why. At the bus stop she introduced us to a small shop owner who used to help her and her mother, and even ended up befriending her mother. We all bought a small snack from the shop owner and then took a bus ride to the cave where Christina and her mother once lived. The whole bus ride, we were in awe of how far it was from the bus stop. Christina had explained to us that she walked barefoot from her cave to the bus stop to sell things or beg. The distance, along with the the fact that she was so young, was unbelievable to us. Once at the cave, we were very surprised because it was not at all what we expected. It was surreal to see something like that with our own eyes after hearing and reading about it so much. Our experiences today will definitely be something we will never forget, and we are so thankful to have had Christina spend the day with us!