MAILED: July 6, 2000
Rose-Marie Avin soon will be able to add an element of Brazilian culture to her economics classes. As a recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Summer Abroad Scholar Program Grant, Avin, an associate professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recently left for Brazil. There she will examine the country's culture, economy and history, among other things.
The Fulbright Program, which was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by former Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, awards approximately 4,500 new grants annually. The purpose of the Fulbright Grants is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills.
"It's a real accomplishment to win one of these awards," said Ed Young, chair of the economics department. "The Fulbright award is a well-deserved honor for Professor Avin.
"These are the kinds of activities that help to keep UW-Eau Claire one of the best public comprehensive universities in the Midwest."
Avin says she's thrilled to be accepted into the program. "I've always been interested in getting firsthand experience to enhance my teaching, and the knowledge will help me internationalize curricula at the university."
Avin has completed studies and research in Spain and Latin America, specifically Nicaragua, but has never been to Brazil. "I am familiar with the Spanish/Latin American culture, and I have a good command of the language … but not being to Brazil was the missing part," she said.
"Professor Avin's participation in this Brazil seminar will add to her already high level of expertise in the field," said Young, noting that Avin is UW-Eau Claire's specialist in Latin American economies.
Brazil is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvarez Cabral, and the subsequent settlement by the Portuguese, African, Western and Asian immigrants. "I want to hear from them how they see Brazil 500 years since its colonization," Avin said. "Brazil is so distinct from other Latin societies. Their language, ethnic composition, culture and history are very different," she said.
The five-week seminar titled "Brazil 500 Years - Crossing Boundaries - From Cabral to the Third Millennium" began July 6 with an orientation seminar at Emory University in Atlanta. From there, Avin left for Brasilia for a four-day semi-intensive introduction course to Brazil, Portuguese language and culture. The 16-member group will attend a series of general lectures, with an emphasis on history, taught by distinguished scholars, previous Fulbright recipients, members of the Fulbright Commission of Brazil and government officials.
The second phase of the seminar will be spent traveling to explore the places that were discussed in the beginning of the seminar. Participants will visit Belém, São Luis, Fortaleza, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and numerous other interesting sites. Avin said she is looking forward to experiencing the different food, vibrant culture and variety of music.
Brazil, with a land area of 3.2 million square acres, is the fifth largest country in the world. It is a key player in Latin America because of its size and area, and its economy dominates Latin America, Avin said. "This trip will give me a better knowledge of Brazilian economy given its importance in Latin America," she said.
While in Brazil, Avin will identify resources for a curriculum project on the status of women in Brazilian economy. The study and research of women in developing countries is an area that Avin has focused on for several years. Most recently, she published a paper titled "Women in Nicaragua: Empowerment Through Revolutionary Struggles."
Avin, who has been teaching economics at UW-Eau Claire since 1987, says her experience will be relevant to the courses she teaches, specifically "International Economics," "Economic Development of Latin America" and "Women in the Labor Market," as well as the international business program at UW-Eau Claire. In addition to making presentations at the university, Avin plans to speak to community organizations and area schools.
"I will be able to discuss Brazil with more authority," Avin said. "My knowledge will be from what I learn directly from the Brazilians rather than from what I read in books or The New York Times."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 11, 2000