Our agenda is an ambitious one during the Canadian university presidents’ mission in Brazil, so we are trying to maximize every moment – fill the “unforgiving minute” with 60 seconds of distance run, as the saying goes.
And so it was on a bus ride from one stop to the next here in Brasilia, that I had a chance to speak with Jim Dean, the executive director of the University of Manitoba’s international office. Jim himself has squeezed in a lot on this trip. In addition to accompanying the University of Manitoba’s president David Barnard for certain portions of the mission, Jim had just joined us again after spending some time in Campo Grande, a city in the west of Brazil, visiting with one of the U of M’s partners, Dom Bosco Catholic University.
I had certainly been aware of this innovative initiative developed by these two universities – it is one among the 55 great active projects funded through AUCC’s Students for Development program, but it was nice to get an update from Jim on how things were progressing.
Their arrangement will see a total of 18 U of M students over the next three years spend up to six months working with the university and its community partner on social development amongst indigenous people in the Mato Grosso do Sul region of Brazil. The University of Manitoba will also be receiving Brazilian students over the same period to work on engagement with First Nations people in Manitoba.
In our chat on the bus, Jim spoke eloquently about the two universities’ commitment to the global effort to improve the lives of indigenous people. Manitoba’s project with Dom Bosco is yet another example of how Canadians and Brazilians can learn from each other and create alliances of shared purposes such as in this case, striving for social equality for indigenous populations.
There is no end to the fascinating ways Canadian universities are engaging with Brazilian partners through ever-deeper and stronger partnerships.