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Global Perspectives: Clovetta Callender

Clovetta CallenderClovetta Callender is an undergraduate student from College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University.

This past spring, I had the privilege to participate in the “Higher Education in Brazil” education abroad program sponsored by the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). My time in Brazil was life-changing. In addition to serving as my first time on an airplane, this trip gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that had strong historical ties to my own, while forming lasting friendships and memories.

Prior to traveling to Brazil, my classmates and I attended several pre-departure meetings which introduced us to the Afro-Brazilian culture as well as the educational facilities in the country. Before applying for this trip, I was unaware of the racial makeup of Brazil nor the African roots and beliefs deeply engraved in the culture.

Clara Ramos, served as our host while in Brazil. Throughout our stay we had the opportunity to witness the true diversity of the country by staying in beautiful hotels, and dining in traditional restaurants while in Salvador, in addition to exploring the communities and neighborhoods where the majority of Afro-Brazilians reside. On our second day in the country, we attended DeVry University (Area 1) and were given the opportunity to interact with the students. During this time, we were given a first-hand account of their culture as well as many of the students’ educational goals. Over the course of our stay, we visited multiple educational facilities including the Engineering and Technology Institute, Escola Aberta (a community school for the youth) and Steve Biko’s College Preparatory Program for Afro-Brazilian students.

Although, I plan on teaching in an early childhood setting upon graduating, the most rewarding experience for me while in Brazil was our interaction with the young adults from the Steve Biko institute. The College Preparatory Program was designed for the advancement of Afro-Brazilian students. This program not only prepares them for college and the workforce but also educates them on their identity and equips them with life-skills.

From an academia perspective as well as from experience, I know that the achievement gap will always exist and that affirmative action is needed for equality. I believe the Steve Biko Institute is doing a wonderful job at introducing higher education to underrepresented communities. During our stay, we interacted with students currently enrolled in the Steve Biko Institute and students who are alums of Biko currently enrolled in the federal universities. As a future educator, this experience encouraged me to be more reflective regarding my practice as well as what is going on in my community regarding education inequality.

I do not have the words to express my gratitude for being able to travel abroad through EHE and ODI. From this experience, I learned so much about the Afro-Brazilian culture and history as well as about myself. This trip not only allowed me to explore educational access in Brazil but also allowed me to learn about higher education access in the United States through the lens of our wonderful resident directors, Robert Bennett III, PhD, James Moore III, PhD and Samuel Hodge, PhD.. Overall, this experience has inspired me to continue to be reflective in my interactions with others and has encouraged me not to be fearful to explore the world.