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Student Reflection: Annelise Finney '15

Annelise Finney is a sophomore majoring in urban studies, with a minor in race and ethnicity. She is one of Barnard's Global Symposium Student Fellows who will attend Women Changing Brazil. Below she reflects on a recent event featuring the Honorable Mauro Vieira, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States, in conversation with Barnard President Debora Spar.

How does a country grow and develop? A glance at American history demonstrates the power of innovation, and a focus on supporting “American business.” In short, the United States has a track record of a strong dependence on self. Countries currently experiencing rapid economic growth, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, acknowledge the importance of self-dependence, however, in our ever-globalizing world, these nations are also acknowledging the need to learn from others abroad. In his conversation with President Spar, Ambassador Vieira spoke of the importance of this second approach as demonstrated through Brazil’s Scientific Mobility Program. As a result of this program over 10,000 Brazilian university students are currently studying abroad in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia on full scholarships funded by the national government, including students who are currently studying at Barnard and Columbia.

As Ambassador Vieira pointed out, this program is a practice in humility: it is a government acknowledging that no one country is the best, and every country can greatly benefit from educational interchange with the world. By traveling and studying abroad, students gain the opportunity to break out of the educational styles predominant to their home country, and subsequently learn in new ways in new settings. This experience, in Ambassador Vieira’s words, “gives oxygen” to their education and to Brazil’s educational system.

In two weeks, Barnard’s Global Symposium Fellows will attend “Women Changing Brazil” in São Paulo, where we will meet and hear from women from around the country about their perspectives on leadership and education. In this way, we will have a brief but meaningful opportunity to gain insight into what Brazilian students in the Scientific Mobility Program are experiencing. Afterward, we will also return home to share what we have learned, and apply it to our educations and our careers. Students of both programs– The Barnard Global Symposium and Brazil’s Scientific Mobility Program– will learn about the value of thinking about the world as a place where nations are not only independent, but also interdependent.

Read more about Ambassador Vieira's visit to campus.