International Center of Topeka (ICT) hosted the Celebration of Brazil at Washburn Institution of Technology from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 22. It introduced Brazilian culture with presentations, cultural performances, art work and food sampling.
As the Brazilian population in Topeka expands, there are 14 Brazilian students studying at Washburn currently, while there were only two Brazilian students in 2017.
Ana Lima, a graduate student clinical psychology major at Washburn, is an international student from Brazil. As a Presidential Ambassador for International Students (PAIS), Lima helped to host the Celebration of Brazil.
“Because we’ve been having an increase in Brazilian population, we wanted to bring attention to that, and have the locals know Brazilians,” said Lima. “It was really a way for us to formally introduce ourselves as Brazilians to the Topeka community.”
The Celebration of Brazil is an opportunity to share Brazilian culture and make a connection with the people of Topeka. Lima gave a presentation about cultural differences and similarities when interacting with Brazilians living in the U.S. She mentioned some misconceptions, for example, most of Brazilians have never been to the Amazon rainforest and not all Brazilians are skilled dancers. Some differences include individualistic cultures and collectivistic cultures.
Alzirene Santos, a Brazilian, presented about Brazilian cuisine, which originated from a combination of different cultures such as Africa, Europe and the Brazilian natives. She showed some photos of Brazil national dishes like Feijoada, Acarajé, Moqueca, Coxinha, Beijinho de Coco (Coconut Little Kiss) and Pão De Queijo. People had the chance to taste a variety of Brazilian dishes prepared mostly by the Washburn Institute of Technology’s Culinary Program and some prepared by local Brazilians.
Kye-Asher Carter, a junior secondary English education major, attended the Celebration of Brazil.
“I think the event was wonderful and very informative,” said Carter. “I really enjoy learning about Brazilian culture and the culture through food.”
Local Brazilian Gabriel Piola, a freshman kinesiology major, and Marcos Jugarta, a freshman, performed live Brazilian music. In addition, there were Brazilian artifacts on display, and some Brazil-inspired pieces created by local artists.
Ryan Mclntosh, a senior computer information science major, went to the celebration with his Brazilian friends.
“It makes me want to go home and look up more about Brazil,” said Mclntosh. “I like the music and the food. I always think that I need to try everything. I asked my Brazilian friends what they were made of and how to make the food, so it’s really cool.”
The host of the celebration, ICT, is a group of university and community volunteers has been dedicated to assisting WU international students since the early 1970s. It hosts the cultural festivals and highlights a different country or region each year to raise cultural awareness, like Getting to Know Korea 2, Middle East Cultures, Naturalistic Nepal and Sensational Scotland.
Sangyoub Park, associate professor of sociology at Washburn, is a member of the ICT. He helped to organize the Celebration of Brazil.
“We have many students from Brazil, we want them stand out, we want to support them,” said Park. “We try to bring a cultural diversity to the Topeka community. Food is always an easy way to learn about the culture and a way to experience a different culture.”