Wang: Experiencing Brazil firsthand
Aside from knowing that my step-grandmother is from Brazil, I did not know much about the country prior to business school. When the international MSM options were announced in September, selecting Brazil as my MSM option was easy because I wanted to learn more about the country firsthand and had never been to South America before.
Our first destination was Sao Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil with over 12 million people. Sao Paulo is a city with strong international influences in commerce, finance, arts and entertainment, and we had the opportunity to experience a taste of it during our weeklong stay. Two cultural highlights were walking around Ibirapuera Park and Beco do Batman. Throughout the week, we also visited Natura Cosmetics, Foxconn Brasil, Bank of Brazil, and the Sao Paulo Convention and Visitors Bureau. These company visits provided us with the opportunity to hear firsthand from business leaders on what it is like to do business in Brazil.
On our drive to Rio de Janeiro, we stopped in Paraty, a colonial gem with cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings with colorful doors and window accents. We spent the day cruising the waters, snorkeling and enjoying the beach. At night, we explored the area and had one of my favorite dinners at a local restaurant. It was a nice change of scenery and pace from Sao Paulo.
We spent our second week in Rio de Janeiro, famed for its Copacabana beach and sites such as Christ the Redeemer and the Sugarloaf Mountain. The cultural highlights for me were visiting Sugarloaf Mountain and the Botanical Garden. In Rio, we visited Logicalis and the U.S. Consulate General where we learned more about business strategies, challenges and opportunities in Brazil. On one of the days, the executive director of Project Favela came to us to discuss the organization’s mission to provide early childhood education in the favelas. While we saw the favelas at a distance throughout our time in Brazil, their presence was much more prevalent in Rio. A few classmates had lunch at Bar do David in the Babilonia Favela by our hotel, and we drove right under Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, on our way to a classmate’s house for dinner. Pedro Calvao 19MBA graciously had a few of us over for authentic Brazilian barbeque that his family prepared for us. We enjoyed sharing our experience in Brazil with him and learning more about cultural differences and the education system as it was something we had learned a lot about during our time in Brazil.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to have gone to Brazil with my classmates. During our two weeks, we had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the Brazilian culture, ate way too much food, and learned about the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Brazil. I cannot wait to catch up with my step-grandmother to learn more about her upbringing in Brazil.