Entrance your student with the culture, history, and passion that is found in Brazil.
By Rita Cook, adapted from Teach and Travel Magazine - November 2010
Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, covers more area than the continental United States. It is home to 185 million inhabitants, and features seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city of Rio de Janeiro is an extension of the vibrant life seen everywhere in the country
With an estimated 860 restaurants, eighty-five theaters, seventy-five movie houses, and sixty museums, Rio is also home to the largest urban forest in the world. And, above it all looking over the city like a mother protecting a child, is the much-visited 125-foot-high statue of Christ of Corcovado.
As the Brazilian Tourism Ministry proudly promotes, “If traveling is your passion, Brazil is your destiny” and never more so than in Rio.
Discovered in 1501 by the Portuguese, Rio was originally the capital of Brazil until it was moved to Brasilia many years later. Capital or not, the city is still a thriving metropolis and one that many student groups are eager to visit. With Por tuguese as the official language, visitors are welcomed to the diverse city with its roots not only in Portugal, but also Africa. The city, too, is the birthplace of samba and boss nova music.
Rio and the entire country have a large European influence, especially in the south where Rio is located, due in part to Italian and German immigrants. However, there’s also a strong African influence because of the slaves brought into the country from Africa and, of course, there is the strong Indigenous Indian influence as well.
From university students interested in learning about topics related to their major to MBA groups or music performance groups including choral and band, Joao Rodrigues of Myriad Marketing, the company who handles marketing for the Brazilian city says there are many popular student activities. A large portion of student groups also engage in activities enabling them to learn more about the local culture, including not only Christ of Corcovado, but also Sugarloaf Mountain, the many beaches such as Copacabana, and a number of volunteer work opportunities with non-governmental organizations and other volunteer groups as well.
“We have received a mix of students from throughout the United States,” says Rodrigues. “Mostly university and MBA students, but high school groups also travel often to Rio as well."
Also important to remember, Rio de Janeiro is located in the Southern hemisphere, so seasons are opposite of that in the United States. And, with the normal stay being roughly three to five nights in the city, Rodrigues says students usually descend either in March and April, from June to August or in January when universities are on break.
While many student groups also visit Salvador, Iguassu Falls, and Manaus as part of their Brazilian experience, Rodrigues adds that Rio is always one of the biggest draws due to its rich diversity.
“Diversity is Rio’s greatest strength,” Rodrigues says. “Diversity in its people, landscape, and activities we can offer students. From museums to forests to corporate visits, with the diversity, an international airport and a variety of hotels for different budgets these things all help make it attractive for educational groups.”
Whether you are taking the cable car up Sugarloaf to enjoy the sunset; visiting the Sao Bento Monastery, one of the finest Benedictine complexes in Brazil where Gregorian chants are still featured on Sundays; or visiting the Hippie Market in Ipanema awash with food, art, and knick knacks, there is something for any student group to discover.
Rio is such a bustling, exciting city, you will have no problem choosing a custom program designed for student groups. Itineraries are as diverse as the city itself and their customized Rio trips take a look at architecture, art, culinary arts, engineering, environmental studies, health and medicine, music, social issues, religion, sociology, and technology.
A sample itinerary for educational groups interested in history include five nights in either a hotel in Copacabana or Ipanema with a welcome session by a history professor from a local university. With additional visits to the historical downtown to learn about the arrival of the Imperial Family from Portugal as well as the slaves who were brought from Africa to the port of Rio, a visit to the National Historical Museum, Imperial Palace, historical churches, and cultural centers also round out the first day.
Another stop on day two includes a visit to Petropolis, known as the former summer home of the Imperial Family. Set in the mountains about ninety minutes outside of Rio, it is a cool escape from Rio’s warm summer temperatures. Petropolis highlights include a museum, the Cathedral, and the house of Santos Dumont, a famous Brazilian inventor.
No trip would be complete to Rio de Janeiro without visiting Corcovado Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer Statue, an icon of the city and known throughout the world. Students travel to the top via a cogwheel train and are offered 360-degree views spanning the city and the bay. A visit to Santa Teresa, a quaint hillside neighborhood to learn more about history and architecture of the area is also part of most itineraries as is a trip to Sugarloaf Mountain on the two-stage cable car offering spectacular views of the city and the bay and usually best visited at sunset.
Student cultural tours also include introductions to the area by local university professors with an emphasis on each trip’s particular focus. While nature is always part of any cultural trip, for example a hike in Tijuca Forest, one of the worldÂ´s largest urban forests in the world allowing students a chance to learn about the local flora and fauna, there is also plenty of time for learning about everyday life. Cuisine comes high on the list for groups with a cultural bend and this includes visits to street markets and participation in a Brazilian cooking class. Of course, there is also the ever-popular samba where a visit to a local samba school enables participants to take samba workshops and interact with members of the community. In some cases volunteering is an option as well.
For a specific educational group focusing on business, itinerary highlights feature a chance to learn about specific communities with tours concentrating on business and social projects aimed at helping low-income families.
No matter the focus of a student group trip to Rio de Janeiro, student groups can always expect the local population in the city, called Cariocas meaning energetic and exuberant, to be a people true to their namesake. Cariocas are a people in love with life and you will see that everywhere, not only in the welcoming Cariocas smile, but also with a heart and soul true to their culture with dancing and “being in the moment” as much their way of life as eating and sleeping.
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International clients call World Projects at: 1-707-556-5885
One of the great undiscovered destinations for performing groups, Argentina provides an amazing musical, cultural and travel experience. With destinations such as the cosmopolitan Buenos Aires - “the Paris of South America;” the gaucho towns and “estancias” of the Pampas; the Spanish colonial city of Cordoba; the beautiful bodegas and parks of Mendoza situated in the foothills of the stunning Andes Mountains; the thundering falls and tropical exuberance of Iguazu Falls, Argentina is as diverse a destination as anywhere on earth
I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil on a setup trip to learn not only about the wonderful culture and group touring sites on offer but also about the musical opportunities available to visiting bands, choirs and orchestras.