We ride horses to school. We eat burgers every meal. We enjoy a good rodeo, and Texas is basically a desert. Because of the wide range of movies and books today, assumptions fog our perspectives on cultures and reality. Before getting defensive about foreigners’ ignorance to the American life style, we must consider the other false assumptions that we unconsciously make of other peoples.
“Most people think Brazil is a jungle. Well, stop it. Brazil is overflowing with urban life. We have buildings everywhere, and we drive cars too. We also do not speak Spanish; we speak Portuguese,” said Guilherme, one of the two male Brazilian delegates.
Brazil is highly diverse. An uncultured person could expect this country to consist of light-skinned, curly haired Spanish dancers, but it is home to every race imaginable from Chinese to Caribbean.
Before arriving to Dallas, the delegates expected Texas to be a dry grassland with ranches isolated from civilization. This mindset was obliterated after experiencing Dallas’s beautiful skyline and eating different food styles. The Brazilians also admitted that they expected Southern accents, but it’s not true as we speak “normally.”
Moreover, the Ursuline School of Brazil is in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil, and their school year starts in January and ends in December. The two schools have similarities regarding schedules and performance expectations; however, both diverge regarding class hours and student-teacher relationships. Unlike the wide range of electives to choose from in American schools, most Brazilian schools only offer two to three options like psychology and finance.
Furthermore, every student, regardless of age, addresses his or her teacher by his or her first name; teachers are also very interactive with the students. After school, teachers may even join them in a friendly game of soccer. Contrastingly, American schools distinguish the line between students and teachers due to the standard of professionalism. This does not mean Brazilian schools do not regard professionalism; they are just more flexible when ruling out age difference.
Isabella, a female Brazilian delegate comments, “In Brazil, you can become best friends with anyone from any grade unlike here, where seniors do not look at freshman,”
On Mondays, their typical school day starts from 7:30 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. On Tuesdays through Thursdays, extracurriculars are optional, and students may leave at 3:45 p.m. Ursuline Brazilian students have seven classes a day which all last 45 minutes. And rather than students traveling to their next classroom, their teachers come to them.
Furthermore, Ursuline Academy of Dallas is an all-girls high school, while the Brazilian delegates’ school provides a coed education for lower and higher-level students. One grade consists of 200 girls, while each grade at the Ursuline Academy in Brazil contains 60 students.
And although only two male delegates came on the trip to Dallas, they both quickly grew accustomed to the all-girls environment. Laughing, male delegate Enrique shamelessly admits, “When I first came here to the school, I was weirded out. But after a day or two, I like it.”
While in Dallas, the Brazilian delegation went to tourist attractions like the Dallas Aquarium, Reunion Tower, the Bush Library, Kennedy Memorial, the Texas State Fair, and the American Airlines Museum. The visitors also tried various restaurants from a classic burger lunch to a nice Italian dinner. There are many diverse foods offered in Brazil, including classic dishes such as Feijoada (black beans and pork), Stroganoff (chicken or beef with Brazilian-originated ingredients), and Brigadero (condensed milk, chocolate powder, and butter).
Even though the American life may seem very different to one of a Brazilian, we both share many similarities. Teens enjoy the same music. We like to go to the mall. We want to party and “role”, a Brazilian term for “hanging out” with friends. Ultimately, the Brazilian delegation enjoyed their trip to Dallas, and we anticipate their return!