Brasilia Without Borders Students Learn Through Experience

Photo essay highlights students engaging with political, educational and civic leaders in the nation’s capital.

Brasilia Without Borders students tour the national monuments.
August 04, 2014

By Brittney Dunkins

During the last few weeks, 385 high school and college-aged students from Brasília have experienced a whirlwind of programming through the George Washington University’s Brasília Sem Fronteiras, or Brasilia Without Borders, program—GW’s inaugural academic exchange partnership with the government of the Federal District of Brazil.

Since kicking off the program with an opening ceremony on July 14, students have received instruction from GW faculty regarding civic engagement, leadership and international business and law, and met with leaders in government, policy, education and business.

Students have also had the opportunity to engage in experiential learning at the district’s top institutions, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the World Bank, the Capital Area Food Bank  and the U.S. Congress.

The Brasilia Without Borders closing ceremony will be held on Aug. 7 at the Lisner Auditorium with remarks from former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon, Jr.

Below, George Washington Today has compiled snapshots of program highlights.

Director of the D.C. Office of Protocol Patricia Elwood held up a Brazil national soccer team jersey during a welcome event for students at the Ronald Reagan and International Trade Center. Dr. Elwood; Roxana Olivas, director of the D.C. Office on Latino Affairs; and Bernard Demczuk, GW’s assistant vice president for district relations, addressed the students. 

Local musician and Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Christylez Bacon performed for students following a presentation at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center from D.C. City Hall officials. 

Burgers Without Borders was an American-style barbecue held at the Mount Vernon Campus. Associate Provost for the Mount Vernon Campus Rachelle Heller and Director of the Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs Will Ostick ate a lunch of traditional summer fare with students. 

Students learned that a Washington, D.C., experience isn’t complete without a trip to the national monuments. They enjoyed an interactive tour of the monuments led by Brasilia Without Borders instructor Joe Follman, a doctoral student and research assistant at GW.

Students attended the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s conference and learned about the inner workings of U.S. political culture and the careers of young staff members on Capitol Hill. 

Students traveled to Annapolis, Md., to visit the historic United States Naval Academy and St. John’s College, founded in 1696 as King William’s School. Students also visited the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation Memorial, a memoriam to the legacy of slavery and marker of the inspiration behind author Alex Haley’s famed novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” 

The university-level cohort traveled to New York for on-site visits that put their coursework on international law and business into perspective. Students attended a meeting with the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, visited the New York Stock Exchange and were privy to a briefing at the United Nations headquarters. 

GW Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Lerman hosted his signature “Pancakes with the Provost” event on the Mount Vernon Campus for students in the Brasilia Without Borders program. A few students were thrilled to try "American-style pancakes" for the first time with Dr. Lerman, GW School of Business Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou and other administrators and faculty at the early morning event.