International Week 2016: Knowing Our Campus, Community, and World

名称未設定With spring break over and classes back in session, are you already bored of studying and need to relax by doing something different? Or, are you interested in knowing and experiencing foreign languages and different cultures? If so, you will likely enjoy International Week at Illinois. Our university appoints the second week of April as International Week. This year’s celebrations will last from Monday, April 4 to Sunday, April 10.

International Week is comprised of a series of educational, cultural, and recreational events designed to foster interest in our global community. Coordinated by Illinois International and a cross-campus organizing committee, International Week seeks to raise awareness about the breadth of international education, activities, and resources available to the Illinois campus and local community. The following are some highlights:

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Image: UIUC Engineering website

International Week 2016 Schedule

Mon, Apr. 4, 5:00-6:00 pm
Undergraduate Research, Study Abroad and Internship Opportunities
“Learn about Engineering undergraduate research, study abroad and internship opportunities! Meet the Engineering Coordinator of Undergraduate Research, and get involved!”

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Image: UIUC Economics website

Tue, Apr. 5, 11:00 am-2:00 pm
Travel Around the World
“Travel Around the World (TATW) is an interactive experience that promotes cultural understanding and engagement. ‪Illinois students will take on the role of ‘travelers,’ and will each receive an Illinois travel ticket. These ‘travelers’ will then be able to collect stamps from various ‘cultural destinations’ as they navigate booths created by Illinois students from across the globe.”

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Image: Website of Peace Corps

Wed, Apr. 6, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm
Peace Corps Info Session
“Change lives, including your own, by serving in the Peace Corps. You will make a difference for a community in need, gain cross-cultural skills and field experience for your career, and bring your global perspective back home to share with others. Join us at this Information Session to learn about Volunteer experiences, have your questions answered, and gain tips to guide you through the application process.”

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Image: http://www.bridgestone.com/

Thu, Apr. 7, 3:00 pm-5:00 pm
Global Career Opportunity-Work Abroad
“5 panelists will share their work abroad experiences. They will also talk about how they found their employment opportunities, what intercultural challenges they faced, and how the work abroad experiences helped them in their career development. The list of the panelists will be announced soon.”

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Image: UIUC International Week website

Fri, Apr. 8, 8:00 pm
Utopian Songwriting: Music, Nation, Modernity and Censorship in 1960s Brazil
“This concert/discussion explores multidisciplinary connections between music and political activism during the early years of the military dictatorship in Brazil as part of the on-going program on Global Utopias of the Center for Historical Interpretation. Held at a local club, the event presents music from Brazilian songwriters including Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Geraldo Vandre, Toninho Horta and Egberto Gismonti, who became prominent through music festivals organized by TV networks during the 1960s.”

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Image: UIUC Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies website

Sat, Apr. 9, 2:30 pm-3:30 pm
Spanish Story Time: “Talking with Mother Earth/ Hablando con la madre tierra” by Lucia Angela Pérez
“Spanish Story Time is a community event organized by CLACS & the Urbana Free Library, since 2006. At this event, children and their parents join to participate in Spanish-English bilingual storytelling, live music and art.”

 

 

 

 

These events are only a few of all the events to be held during International Week. Check the International Week calendar to find an event that interests you and learn more about our global community. If you want more resources about foreign languages and cultures before, during, or after International Week, you are always welcome to visit us here at the International and Area Studies Library and at our library website.

Have a great International Week 2016!

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Ready for Rio? Part 2: 2016 Olympics Update

Rio 2016 Official Promotional Video

Screenshot: Rio 2016 Official Promotional Video

With the wintry weather starting to fade here in Illinois – we hope! –  the 2016 Summer Olympic Games feel like they’re just around the corner. The Olympics will take place from August 5th to August 21st, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Much has been said, debated, and certainly achieved in relation to the preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Just over a year ago, we took a look at the situation on this blog and with this post, Part 2, we hope to check back in with the progress.

For starters, I invite you to keep in mind what our Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian, Antonio Sotomayor, has said about the connection between sports and politics when interviewed about his recent book on Puerto Rico’s participation in past Olympic Games: “Sports is never done in a vacuum.”

The first thing to consider, then, is that neither sports nor public opinion – and even less so public opinion represented in the media – are interest-free enterprises. With this thought in mind, let’s go through some of the most visible updates regarding the upcoming 2016 Olympiad.

Photo credit: Aerial view of the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Hill and the Mario Filho (Maracana) stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 3, 2013. AFP - Getty Images file. NBC News

Photo credit: Aerial view of the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Hill and the Mario Filho (Maracana) stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 3, 2013. AFP – Getty Images file.
NBC News

Since the announcement of Rio de Janeiro as the host city of the 2016 Games back in 2009, diverse reactions have been expressed in the sphere of public opinion. What’s more, after the simultaneously successful and controversial FIFA World Cup held in Brazil in 2014, the expectations appear to be both more achievable and more ambitious.

Public spending for these two sporting mega-events – as these kinds of massive, international, and commercial competitions are called – is a  great topic of debate. The unease of some towards these monumental events is related, in part, to the feeling that not all profits will stay in Brazil. Although local businesses and tourism may also benefit from the large number of visitors traveling to Brazil for the Olympics, criticism remains about public expenditures and the limited redistribution of profits made by private corporations. Impact evaluations of the 2014 World Cup have already been conducted and proved that the positive effect of this event on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has been minimal. In fact, some say that these mega-events, while indeed entertaining for the masses, tend to be “zero sum games.”  Besides public investments, building infrastructure, and “embellishing” cities, impoverished populations have been displaced for the construction of venues and public spaces. Some even claim that “social cleansing” has taken place, as reported in a 2016 article by Al Jazeera.

Water pollution and the explosion of mosquito-generated diseases are other great challenges that Brazilian organizers are currently facing. The cleaning of Rio’s Guanabara Bay, which will host the sailing competitions at the Olympics, was a main promise made by the city upon its announcement as host but does not appear to have been brought to fruition. Major news outlets in the United States (as seen in the New York Times, ThinkProgress, and the New Yorker) and the U.K. (the Guardian) argue that Guanabara Bay in Rio is still highly polluted with bacteria and solid waste, which would pose major risks to athletes’ health and interfere with the development of sailing competitions. To add to this large list of challenges, you have probably heard about the Zika virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that has seen a major outbreak in the past few months. The disease has already proved to affect the health of unborn babies when acquired by pregnant women, contributing, most likely, to a highly debilitating condition known as microcephaly. Along with Zika, the diseases chikungunya and dengue are some of the other uninvited guests currently in Brazil.

Although all of this looks like a very dark picture for a successful Olympics in terms of event organization and economic and political benefits for the region, other more positive positions have been taken on the matter. For starters, Rio 2016 is the first Olympiad celebrated in South America and only the second in Latin America (the first was Mexico 1968). And, if for some portion of Brazilians the Olympics are a public expenditure that is not a priority – or even necessary – and that also involves questionable political actions, for others it is an issue of pride and of the global positioning that Brazil has recently gained as a rising world economy. In September 2015, the Argentinian press published an article revealing that 73% of Brazilian citizens support the Olympics.

What are other countries saying about the Olympics? Media outlets from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and even France seem somewhat less skeptical about Rio’s potential success. Among the Brazilian press and other international outlets that publish in Brazil (BBC Brazil, for example), many articles have been published which, while expressing awareness about the huge challenge that a mega-even like the Olympics constitutes for the country’s economy and political decisions, seem to be more moderate about the possible scenarios than what is presented in other international media. BBC Brazil has published articles about how the Brazilian Committee is making do in the midst of the current Brazilian economic recession, as can be read in this piece from September 2015 and this one from October 2015. Likewise, Brazilian organizers have declared that the budget for the 2016 opening ceremony would be less than half of what was spent in London 2012, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

Regarding fears about infrastructure, Rio de Janeiro’s daily newspaper O Globo published in its online edition a map of the current state of construction of the Olympic venues. This is the issue that has created the most panic among international public opinion. Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, has also been responding to criticism and skepticism by answering as many questions as possible, as reported here in the Guardian from August 2015.

Regarding Zika, the International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, has stated that he is fully confident that the Zika outbreak will be controlled appropriately and that it will not interfere in the development of the Olympiad. In this statement he supports Dilma Rousseff’s declarations assuring the international community and athletes that Zika will not present a major threat this summer.

EFE. Published in Taringa, Argentinian Media.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. EFE. Published in Taringa, Argentinian Media.

Amidst all of these conflicting opinions and complex challenges, both Rio de Janeiro’s and Brazil’s governments have decided to push back and continue working towards being a great host for the summer Olympics. Although August is still several months away, Rio is already inaugurating new venues and hosting pre-Olympic events to test and fine-tune these new venues. From early February through May 22, events will take place with around 272 athletes from 49 countries.

As we can see, the Olympics are much more than fun, fitness, discipline, competition, and entertainment. Business and hardcore politics are also embedded in the Games’ roots, both as a competition and as an international committee.

But at this point we must ask ourselves some tough questions: Are we more concerned with the venues being ready than with the displaced families that the venues have created? Do we see in the risk of Zika for tourists and athletes a larger overall threat than the alleged “social cleansing” taking place in order to have a more sightly Rio for the Olympics? How is Zika related to other world-wide environmental phenomena? Are the economic investments in building new venues and for the opening ceremony reasonable choices or a waste of money?

If you ask me, I would say that on one hand, the panic over the organization of the Rio Olympics may be based on the fact that the process has not been as smooth as the international community is used to – for example, when the games are celebrated in richer countries. So, perhaps this is a good opportunity to revise what we think of as “world-class” standards and comparisons and to accept that sometimes spending billions of dollars on new sporting venues is less than reasonable. Furthermore, perhaps we should think twice before feeling disappointed about relatively “modest” opening ceremonies.

On the other hand, it is also important that we keep in mind questions about how international corporations and organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA may impose their interests above those of host countries in regards to the distribution of profits. This is why Avery Brundage, former IOC president, took a very strong stance on the Olympic movement ideally being about amateur as opposed to corporatized and politically sponsored sports. The University of Illinois Archives holds an extended collection of Brundage’s papers. There you can track his fight against the commercialization of sports and also discover the political moves embedded in the both the IOC and the sporting events themselves.

For even more information and insight, below is a selection of books available at the University Library that we have selected as part of the current exhibit on Rio 2016 at the Main Library. And here is a comprehensive LibGuide on Brazil, and a Libguide on Sports, that we have developed to support your research on these topics. Also: Don’t miss our Chai Wai on Rio 2016 on Tuesday, March 8th from 3 to 4:30pm at the International & Area Studies Library (321 Main Library). All are welcome!

Zirin, Dave. Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy. Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books, 2014

Cover of: Brazil’s dance with the devil : the World Cup, the Olympics, and the fight for democracy
(see below)

Please contact our Latin America and Caribbean Studies Librarian, Antonio Sotomayor, for even more information.

Chai Wai Poster

March 8, 2016 “Chai Wai” poster (IAS Library)

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A View into the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies

The Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies was established at the University of Illinois in 2009. This institute promotes research and instruction about Brazil. The mission of the institute is to foster “knowledge and understanding of Brazil across disciplines and colleges.” In order to do this, the center provides fellowships and grants to students.

How exactly is this center affiliated with the school? Why Illinois? From 1890 to 1891, the first dean of the College of Agriculture, Eugene Davenport, spent a year in São Paulo, Brazil. There, he spent time with a coffee planter named Luiz de Queiroz. Davenport was also the one who advised Luiz de Queiroz to open Brazil’s first school of agriculture.

Lemann Institute. Photo courtesy of the Lemann Institute

Lemann Institute. Photo courtesy of the Lemann Institute

This institute represents over 100 years of collaboration and engagement between the University of Illinois and the country of Brazil.

Over the past couple of years, this institute has partnered with organizations, organized various visits from Brazilian nationals, created new organizations, and sponsored cultural events.

The Institute also offers a variety of grants and fellowships. An example is their Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, whereby students receive travel grants. Specifically, this program is intended to obtain opportunities that are available through the Brazilian government. Areas of study included are Animal Sciences, Civil Engineering, Microbiology, and other areas.

São Paulo, Brasil. Photo courtesy of Gary Bembridge via Flickr

São Paulo, Brasil. Photo courtesy of Gary Bembridge via Flickr

In terms of outreach, the Lemann Institute has sponsored and held many events. The first step in these events is to build friendships and establish partnerships on campus and in the community. Through this initiative, UIUC’s Chancellor Phyllis Wise and former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn met with Brazilian government officials. Chancellor Wise signed  “Memoranda of Understanding” with some institutions, such as the Universidade de Pernambuco (one of Brazil’s federal state universities).

The Lemann Institute has many other resources and programs available. For more information, check out their website.

References:

http://www.clacs.illinois.edu/lemann/

http://issuu.com/clacs-cu/docs/lemann_annual_report

 

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Ready for Rio?

In about a year and a half from now, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

This past summer, Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup. Leading up to the event there was no small degree of controversy, fueled in large part by popular protests against the status quo‘s apparent focus on its international image rather than on the Brazilian people’s more urgent needs (Moh 2014). The outcry particularly focused on the lack of development/infrastructure in such sectors as education, public transportation, and medical care.

In a May 2013 interview with the Bloomberg News Service, JPMorgan’s Latin American Chief Investment Analyst Philip Guarco spoke with journalist Trish Regan about Brazil’s capabilities and preparations for both events in question, as neither had yet occurred (nor had the popular protests yet begun). He noted,

“[Brazil has] actually doubled the amount on infrastructure that they’ve made over the last 10 years, from about two percent of GDP to four percent. But I think there has to be more partnership with the private sector. And unfortunately there’s been a number of moves recently by the government which I think discouraged the private sector from investing more in infrastructure.”

These doubts were widely echoed throughout international media in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup. Although the Brazilian national team suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat by Germany in the semi-finals and then a 0-3 loss to the Netherlands in the run-off for third place (Pearson/FIFA 2014), the logistical/infrastructural issues predicted by many critics seemed to have been not only averted, but quite smoothly maneuvered. Score one for the Brazilians there.

However, as life gradually returned to normal after the event, the Brazilian economy began to register the reverberations from the weeks of lost productivity in any sector unrelated to the Cup itself, as essentially the whole nation was either directly or indirectly engaged in the mega event:

“While the month-long tournament drew a million foreign tourists to Brazil–far exceeding official expectations–economists say its impact on other sectors of the economy was decidedly negative. Some World Cup host cities declared municipal holidays on days when matches were played in local stadiums, while untold legions of workers played hooky to watch the Brazilian national team’s seven games.” (The Wall Street Journal, 18 July 2014)

Many speculators (Guarco 2013) currently agree that the high hopes that were held for Brazil as a world-class economy are now tempered with a strong dose of scepticism based on internal limitations and the often fraught relationship between the public and private sectors in large-scale projects. The recent scandal involving the widespread corruption of state-run oil giant Petrobras is one glaring example (Horch 2015).

Will the months leading up to the 2016 Olympics (August 5-21, 2016) unfold as another politically turbulent – followed by another economically stagnant – period? Or will the Games only help to solidify Brazil’s still – ostensibly – burgeoning status as the darling of the BRICS nations (“Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa”), despite the risks and challenges? Whatever the result, Brazil’s current position on the world stage is as prominent as it has ever been.

For more information about what’s in store for the fascinating nation and culture of Brazil, scroll down after the references for some recommended reading, all available at the UIUC Library.

Fore more information on Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies, please contact our Subject Specialist, Dr. Antonio Sotomayor: asotomayor@illinois.edu.


References

FIFA. (2014). “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: Matches.” Online: http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/brazil2014/matches/index.html. Accessed 18 February 2015.

Guarco, Philip and Regan, Trish (Eds.). (2013). “Will We See a Whole New Brazil in 2016?” New York: Bloomberg. Video: http://search.alexanderstreet.com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/view/work/2390602. Accessed 17 February 2015.

Horch, Dan. (2015). “Corruption Scandal at Petrobras Threatens Brazil’s Economy.” The New York Times. 11 February 2015. Online: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2015/02/11/a-corruption-scandal-at-petrobras-threatens-brazils-bond-market-and-economy/?ref=topics&_r=0. Accessed 19 February 2015.

Moh, Catharina (Ed.). (2014). “Clashes Mar Brazil World Cup Protest.” BBC News. 26 January 2014. Video: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-25901361. Accessed 18 February 2015.

Pearson, Samantha (Ed.). (2014). “Brazil’s World Cup Hangover.” The Financial Times. 14 July 2014. Video: http://www.ft.com/indepth/fifa-world-cup-brazil-2014. Accessed 17 February 2015.


Fore more information, check out these books at the UIUC Library

Jennings, Andrew (Ed.). (2014). Brasil em jogo: o que fica da Copa e das Olimpíadas? São Paulo, SP: Carta Maior: Boitempo Editorial.

Wood, Naomi Pueo (Ed.). (2014). Brazil in Twenty-first Century Popular Media: Culture, Politics, and Nationalism on the World StageLanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Zibechi, Raúl and Ryan, Ramon. (2014). The New Brazil: Regional Imperialism and the New DemocracyOakland, CA: AK Press.