Candomble: A Whole New World

June 6, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— There are many religions in Santarém, Parà, but one religion stuck out like a sore thumb. A religion that did not focus on God, focus on good or bad deeds, and did not focus on praying. Out of all the religions practiced in Brazil, the most common religion (Catholicism) was not my favorite.

Candomblé is a religion that focuses on spirits, sacrifices, and welcoming everybody. In the few religious events we went to in Santarém, I never saw anything so colorful, beautiful, and unusual. We attended pai de santo, a man named Clodomilson de Ogum’s house in Santarém. It was one of the most interesting and lively things I attended during my two week stay in Santarém. A group of eight Roger Williams University students and an RWU journalism assistant professor and RWU anthropology assistant professor explored the city of Santarém for two weeks. Their trip was through a program called Amizade where the site director, Nathan Darity, chauffeured, guided, and provided knowledge for the group.

During the two week stay in Santarém, we went to the zoo, learned some capoeira, hiked, kayaked, completed community service and various other things; Candomblé was one of the most eye opening things to me. I do not want to join the religion, but it is something that I think everybody should experience because it is so interesting. The way the people were acting, how people were responding, and the emotions that were displayed were incredible.

Many religions that I am aware of are primarily about prayer, God, and good karma. Candomblé is something that is so unusual and mysterious to many people. This is a religion that should get their name out, reach out to people, and explain to people what it is all about. This could happen by utilizing the Web, posters, and word of mouth.


Espiritismo: It’s All About Spirit

June 14, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— On June 4, 2012, the Roger Williams University group went to a house called Centro Espírita Meimei which was a relaxed religion. This religion accepted everybody as long as the person wanted to do some good in the world.

This religion focuses on spirits and how humans and spirits communicate with each other. There are good and bad spirits that can affect people’s health, luck, and other elements in a person’s life. There are different mediums and if somebody is a part of the medium, they can feel and talk with spirits. This religion believes in one God that controls the entire universe.

Espiritismo is a religion that involves death, fate, and the destiny of spirits,” said Pimentel, Centro Espírita Meimei church leader. “Thought does not come from the brain, but from the spirit.”

Pimentel discussed some of the religious beliefs such as reincarnation, evolve, and to have faith. There were three fundamental questions that were asked such as “who are you”, “why are you here”, and “why are some people healthy and some are not”. This religion also reads books such as Book of Spirit, Mediums, Inferno, and Genesis.

After he explained the religion to the students, he turned off the lights and had a red light in the corner of the room so he could reach the spirits. Everybody said a prayer and then the room went silent while Pimentel reached the spirits so he could feel the individuals in the room’s spirits.

Some of the students felt something when Pimentel put his hands above the students head. When Pimentel turned the lights back on, he told the group that they had good energy.

Walk in the Woods

June 1, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— On June 1, 2012, ten Roger Williams University students went to Bosque Santa Lucia to hear Steven Alexander discuss soy. He talked to the students for about 45 minutes and then took the students on a walk into the woods.

He discussed soy, land, forests, and farming. Alexander talked about how there were different types of farming such as subsistence and mechanized farming. He talked about how there were 163-500 different species of trees that inhabit the Bosce. He mentioned some interesting facts; for example that there is about 79 inches of rain per year.

“Bosce is Dutch for forest area in urban area,” explained Steven Alexander, owner of soy farm Bosce.

Alexander took the student around his yard where they observed different types of trees and plants. Some of the species the students observed were the Brazil nut tree, açai palm, laelias, and poppy-papaver rhoeas.

The students then took at 30 minute hike into the woods and saw and heard different species. There were large ants that ran out of a tree when the tree was hit. These ants and trees coexisted and formed a mutualism relationship. The students saw large spider webs and large holes where large spiders lived. Some of the noises that the students heard were birds and various insects.

“I really liked being able to see the rubber tree and different species after we had spent time in class learning about them,” said Liz Garretson, RWU student.

The trees were massive compared to the students; some of the trees had thick wide bases whereas some had thin bases. The students observed rubber coming out of a rubber tree when a slit was cut into the tree. The rubber was a thick white substance that dripped off the tree.

The students walked away with knowledge of various Brazilian trees, plants, and farming, yet had the opportunity to enjoy walking and exploring the woods.

Capoeira: Sign Me up!

May 30, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— Six Roger Williams University students, a professor, and leader went to the Pastoral to learn some Capoeira on March 30, 2012. In other words, the students learned the history of the martial arts, listened to the music, and joined the chants.

Capoeira is a form of Brazilian martial arts that is a combination of dance and music. Around the beginning of the 16th century, it was created by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influence. Some of the key parts of this form of martial arts are power, speed, rhythm, and complex moves. This was a popular dance among the slaves because it created hope for survival and a way for the slaves to escape their troubles.

“The combination of martial arts with dance and music was beautiful,” said Rawan Bukhamseen, RWU student.

There were six capoeira members from a group called Centro Cultural ACAMP Capoeira which was founded in 1996. There were four men and two women; one man played a string instrument and another male played a single drum. The RWU students paired up with one of the Centro Cultural ACAMP Capoeira group members and learned some basic moves. The students learned a move called “half moon”.

“This is a unique type of martial arts and benefits children because it builds their self-esteem and is a great way to socially engage with others,” said Paulo Romano, Centro Cultural ACAMP Capoeira teacher.

After the students learned some moves, the capoeira members showed their skills and moves by dancing to fast- paced music. Everybody circled around the members while they did flips, kicked, and ducked to the rhythm of the music.

This was an eye-opening experience for many of the students since they had never seen anything like it before. The rhythm, music, and dancing took over the students bodies.

Cargill: Large Company, Few Employees

May 29, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— On May 29th, 2012, eight Roger Williams University students and two professors went to take a tour and learn about the soy bean company Cargill. A group of students from IESPES and two teachers also attended. At this soy bean plant, both the Brazilian students and American students listened to Jose Francisco, manager of Cargill. Francisco has only worked in Santarém for about three and a half years, but has worked at Cargill for about 24 years.

“I was surprised that such a large company had so few employees, especially such few women,” said Veronica Glasson, RWU student. “I was impressed with the women driving the soy truck.”

Cargill is a public company that operates from many five different continents. This company is known for its business, trading, distributing, and manufacturing. The company purchases and distributes grain, trades steel, and manufactures livestock and feed. The company also produces starch, glucose syrup, oils and fats. The founder of company was William W. Cargill in 1865. It soon became a family-owned business which is still remains to be today.

During his discussion, Francisco discussed some of the company’s values, morals, and goals. He discussed the importance of being environmentally friendly, being an honest company, and how to develop soy quickly and efficiently.

The students were enlightened about how small the Santarém operation was. There are about 120 employees, 12 of which are women. There are 25 higher positions and three of those positions were held by women.

“Women should eat soy to make themselves look good and young,” explained Francisco. “if they want to look pretty for the men.”

Francisco gave the students a tour of the plant by showing them where the soy was processed, delivered, and shipped. The students took a boat ride to see how the company looked from afar.

Casa Brazil: Telecenter

May 28, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— On May 28th, 2012, Team Boa is made up of Roger Wililams University students Thomas Berry and Jolyn Wiggin. They went to a telecenter called Casa Brasil, which a public Internet access point. Roger Williams University journalism Assistant Professor Paola Prado led the students along with their leader Nathan Darity. At the telecenter students accessed the Internet, and learned various programs such as Photoshop, image editing, radio podcasting, and arts and music. The youth coordinator, Josiane Amorim, welcomed the students and discussed what the center had to offer for students.

Adriane Gama, event coordinator of Casa Brasil, led Team Boa through the various rooms which included the classroom, computer lab, radio office, literature room, and a recycling room. In the computer room, the students were working on computers doing various tasks such as editing images, playing games, and blogging. Josiane Amorim and Brena Taina were the youth coordinators whom welcomed us and explained what the center offered.

“The center is for anybody and is a place where people can learn Photoshop, image editing, graphic design, radio, arts, music, and improve on their English language,” said Josiane Amorim, Casa Brasil youth coordinator.

In order to use the facilities, the students have to sign up for a minimum of four months which is free. The students created various short animated clips that promoted recycling. They also had created various bottle holders using old computer parts, bottles, and recycled parts.

The last thing Team Boa saw was a group rehearsing a scene which represented domestic violence. There was a young male that was abusing a young female. They also rehearsed acts about recycling and an act that involved a “trashbot”.

At the end of one of the scenes, a young girl asked Professor Prado “do people in the U.S. have the internet?” explained Prado, journalism professor at RWU.


Climbing in Alter do Chao

May 27, 2012

SANTARÉM, PA— On May 27, 2012, eight Roger Williams University students, their anthropology professor, trip leader, and a student from St. Mary’s University took a boat to climb a mountain in the city of Alter do Chão resort area used mostly by elite. After lunch, a small motor boat took two waves of students to a nearby island to begin their hike up the mountain. On their journey up the small mountain, the students observed some wildlife, interacted with one another, and climbed a metal cross that was at the top of the mountain.

The group hiked through sand, branches, rocks, and gravel. There were many switch backs on the trail which meant that there were many viewpoints along the trails. Everybody walked the trails in a single line with their flip flops or sneakers smiling because of their beautiful warm day. Throughout the walk, the students observed small brightly colored geckos and heard rustling leaves.

“The hike was incredible because of the views, especially climbing the cross and seeing even more of Santarém,” Elizabeth Garretson, RWU student.

When the students reached the summit, they had a rock- throwing contest attempting to determine who could throw best with their non dominant hand. After a few minutes of laughter, Professor Campbell and site leader Nathan Darity climbed about a 32 foot white metal cross on the mountain. Everybody followed shortly after and within seconds there were ten people piled onto the cross. After hundreds of pictures on various cameras, the group began their descent down the hill.

“I did not realize that I was afraid of heights until I reached the top of the cross, but it was an amazing view,” said Veronica Glasson, RWU student.

On the way down, the students went down the mountain eager to get back onto the boat and get some water after a long days hike.