17 October 2008

Pre-Trip: Explaining the Project

Brazil is a nation of superlatives. It represents one of the top five emerging economies of the 21st century. In geographic size, it is the fifth largest country on earth, only eclipsed in size by Russia, Canada, the United States (including Alaska) and China. It contains the largest population of people of Japanese ancestry outside of Japan, and the largest population of people of African ancestry outside of Africa. Brazil was also the recipient of the largest number of African slaves to the Americas during the European slave trade, and by 1830 Brazil had the largest slave economy in the world.

Lest one think that Brazilian history only reflects the worst of humanity, it's also important to recognize that many creative art forms have emerged from the confluence of the indigenous, African and European people who call Brazil their home. This is, after all, the birthplace of samba, capoeira, Carnival, and cinema novo.

Therefore David (my husband), Hope (my daughter, age 6) and I will be taking a trip to this nation of superlatives. After arriving by air in Sao Paulo, we will tour from the Europeanesque beach resorts of the southeast to the indigenous Amazon rainforests of the northwest. With distinct hopefulness that we not slip into the waters and be eaten by a ferocious Amazonian pirahna fish, we will then travel on to the Afro-Brazilian northeastern region before heading back to California.

Thus it is with honor and gratitude that I acknowledge the role that Cosumnes River College's Professional Standards committee, President Francisco Rodriguez and the Los Rios Community College District have played in partnering with me on this project.

In the course of our journey, we will interact with poets and pastors, mothers and musicians, slum dwellers and slave descendents. In all, this trip will consist of 95 days, span four time zones, and cover 10,000 kilometers. That's about 6,200 miles in pursuit of an understanding of the indigenous, African and European influences on contemporary Brazilian society.

We are all in this together. I hope you enjoy the ride.

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