We had a lovely first full day in Florianópolis, or Floripa, as the locals call it. This morning we had breakfast in the hotel, changed money at the local casa de cambio, and met as a group for our orientation with Prof. Vicente Concilio and three of his students.
After that, we went to the UDESC campus, where the students ate lunch in the student cafeteria and had a tour of the campus. UDESC is a public university for the state of Santa Catarina, and we are working directly with the theatre program here.
In Brazil public universities are tuition-free for the students, and we inevitably have a hard time explaining to the students here why the U. of Michigan as a public university costs so much for our students to attend. Brazilian universities function like conservatories in the U.S. You study only the subject in which you are majoring and take no other kinds of courses.
The theatre students with whom we work at UDESC were all admitted by auditions. In Brazil only the very best students get admitted to public universities. Those who do not do as well on the auditions or admissions exams for other areas of study either do not go to college or end up paying to attend a private university. This means that public universities are generally more rigorous and prestigious than private universities in Brazil. Brazilians also do not have a cultural point of reference for what we call a liberal arts education in the U.S. Since they come to university to study only one subject, they find it fascinating that our students take courses in many different departments and that the majority of PCAP students on this trip are not theatre majors.
Our first actual class at UDESC took place this afternoon. We visited a theatre class where the students had been assigned an interview published in Portuguese last year between me and Prof. Vicente Concilio in which we talked about the work that PCAP does. I spoke a bit more about our work today in the class, and then the Brazilian faculty and students asked questions of us about what we do at PCAP. I was very proud at how well our students responded and explained our philosophy and methodologies for doing theatre in prisons. We wrapped up the class by playing a few theatre games.
In the evening, we split off into smaller groups to have dinner wherever we liked, and a couple of the more ambitious students even went to a local gym to work out. (No, I was not disciplined enough to go with them.)
Até logo (Until later)!