Gallery introduces Columbia to Brazilian culture

Carla Ferreira brought South America to Columbia on Saturday with her open gallery, "Snapshots of Brazil."

Ferreira, an associate professor of English at Brazil's Universidade Federal de São Carlos, has been at USC as a visiting researcher for three months now. She saw the gallery, located in Hollings Special Collections Library, as an exciting opportunity to share an overview of Brazilian culture and equip students and faculty with the knowledge necessary to one day pursue opportunities in Brazil.

"This gallery itself is very important to me because it is a chance for me to spread the news about my country," Ferreira said. "People, they know about Brazil, but they don't know some basic information or important information if you want to go there."

The presentation opened with a series of images that typify the average person's conception of Brazil: pristine beaches, vibrant parrots and the lively carnival. Ferreira said that although these may be important aspects of Brazilian life, there is much more to the South American country.

Brazil is broken down into five main regions, each with their own cultures and climates: North, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and South. Whereas northern regions are known for their warm weather, the south is susceptible to snow storms. In addition, there are slight variations in dialect, music, environment and ethnicity.

"The weather is different, food is different, people are different, you cannot tell what a Brazilian is like. Only when the person says, 'I'm a Brazilian,'" Ferreira said.

Another major component of the gallery was the countering of misconceptions.

For one, monkeys will not be found roaming the metropolitan streets of Rio de Janeiro or swinging over the buildings of São Carlos. Aside from the rainforests, Brazilians only find monkeys at the zoo.

Ferreira also explained how many people hear she is from Brazil and approach her speaking Spanish under the misconception that it's Brazil's language, when it's actually Portuguese. 

A third significant component involved the ability to go to Brazil as a student or teacher. She noted that there are English Teaching Assistant programs in which American students work with Brazilian professors to sharpen students' English-speaking skills. Professors can also travel to Brazil through research programs, just as Ferreira has traveled to USC.

Her gallery concluded with a Q&A session in which Ferreira fielded the audience's questions, ranging from the state of race relations in Brazil to how her views on American culture have changed since living here. 

Ferreira, who previously lived in Iowa for a short time, admitted that she was surprised by how different Southern culture is from Northern culture in the U.S. In other words, American culture is just as diverse as Brazilian culture.

"We are samba, soccer, carnival. We are coffee, but not just that. That's just a part of Brazil," Ferreira said.

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