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Global Perspectives: Nnaemeka Anene

Nnaemeka Anene

Anene is majoring in materials science and engineering major on a pre-medicine track who participated in “Brazil Higher Education,” an education abroad program.

For Spring Break 2018, I spent my time in Salvador, Brazil. We visited a number of public and private universities and spoke to students of all backgrounds, religious beliefs and economic statuses. On our very first day at one of the engineering/technical schools, we visited Area One. We became immersed in deep discussion with Luis, a student at the school. He was officially an intermediate level English speaker. I was able to communicate with him using the more-than-nine-years of Spanish I had taken throughout my educational experience. While not Portuguese, there is some intersection between the two languages, and it allowed for a relatively free flowing conversation with him. We spoke on political issues and the abuse he witnessed firsthand, as well as how much he loved rock and roll.

After our conversation, the whole group partook in a large computerized competition from a game the students and professors had developed. It got so intense that our personal guide, Clara Ramos, said she could hear our screams from the other side of campus.

Aside from these fulfilling conversations, I was personally grateful to visit the schools as a majority of them were engineering schools. I was able to see a tensile test performed as well as students developing polymers, things I had taken a test on for my materials science and engineering class the day before we left for Brazil. Being able to share experiences with them concerning academics was highly rewarding.

In addition to the academic focus, being in Brazil allowed for a lot of memorable opportunities. We were able to visit multiple islands, one even being a “hot sand” island, where even the water felt like a natural hot tub. We went to an island known for its skin purifying mud baths, which we all took. We even went to markets and bargained down the prices of souvenirs we brought back.

One day, we visited preschoolers and had the most fun ever playing with them and watching them showcase their abilities with capoeira. And possibly my favorite, besides all of the amazing food, was getting to play basketball with the organized team in the area. Having the whole town come out and fill the gym just to watch us play put me in awe. After winning the game, having all those people show us genuine love was one of the greatest moments of my trip. We gave away supplies, shoes and various other necessities, and took a lot of pictures.

Going to Brazil changed my life. The conversations, the connections and the lives we touched made the trip so worthwhile. Seeing numerous famous buildings, churches and natural areas just added to the work we did learning about access to higher education. In all, I am truly grateful for this exceptional opportunity and definitely plan to find a way to get back to, and give back to, both this education abroad program and my newfound friends in Brazil.