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Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development

Examine the vast human and environmental challenges confronting northeast Brazil, and learn about social justice initiatives in the fascinating city of Fortaleza.

This program looks at socioeconomic conditions and the impact of local development efforts and public policy on lives and livelihoods in northeastern Brazil. Students interact with different ethnic groups, including indigenous and Afro Brazilian populations, to gain insight into the challenges and benefits of implementing social change within a multicultural environment.

Major topics of study include:

  • Social injustice, marginalization, and inequality in contemporary northeastern Brazil
  • Colonial Brazil and Brazilian history
  • Social emancipation struggles and Brazilian civil society
  • Race, gender, and sustainable development
  • Public policy and social and restorative justice
 
The SIT Brazil program in Fortaleza solidified my language skills and my love of Brazil. I was inspired by the marisqueiras of Fortim, the women who invited me into their homes and let me shadow them to do my ISP research on a women's grassroots movement. The marisqueiras, and others I met in Brazil, made me want to seek out, work with, and be someone who, no matter how incrementally, made the lives of other individuals better.

Bianca Santos, Rice University

FortalezaThe Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development study abroad program examines local socioeconomic conditions and the impact of local development efforts and public policy on lives and livelihoods in northeastern Brazil. In addition to thematic coursework and field study in Fortaleza, students participate in educational excursions throughout the region and observe various community-based programs seeking to foster social, political, and economic improvement.

The program consists of three phases: a seven week homestay in Fortaleza, a two-week period during which students participate in educational excursions throughout northeastern Brazil, and a month-long period during which students focus on an Independent Study Project (ISP). Each phase of the program introduces students to different experiences with, and perspectives on, social justice in Brazil.

Fortaleza

During their homestay in Fortaleza, students attend lectures and seminars on topics such as globalization and its impact on third world societies, neoliberalism as an economic model, social movements in Brazil and Latin America, and Afro Brazilian religions and culture. Students are immersed in Portuguese language study through intensive language classes and daily interaction with their host families. This seven-week period helps acclimate students to Brazilian culture and familiarizes them with the social and political atmosphere of the region.

workshop on cultureField Study

The Research Methods and Ethics course focuses on the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience. Material includes:

  • Appropriate methodologies
  • Field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy
  • Developing skills in observation and interviewing
  • Gathering, organizing, and communicating data

Assigned papers provide an opportunity for students to test the tools introduced during the course while providing occasions for discussions on ethics and intercultural readings. Throughout the course, students work to properly develop their research topics for their Independent Study Project. Students significantly advance their initial ideas, assumptions, and drafts, in close consultation with their academic director.

Independent Study Project

ISPIn the final month of the Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development program students complete an Independent Study Project (ISP), which provides each student an opportunity to pursue original research on a community, situation, or topic related to Brazilian culture, development, and social justice. Each student selects an ISP advisor from among the outstanding array of researchers and professionals affiliated with the program. The ISP is conducted in Fortaleza or, by arrangement, in another area of northeastern Brazil.

Sample topics for the ISP include:

  • Agrarian reform in the state of Ceará and the northeast
  • Migratory trends and demographic impact
  • Economic and social plight of favela dwellers
  • Urbanization and economic development
  • Class issues in Ceará
  • Afro Brazilian religion and culture

After the semester ends, students are encouraged to continue studying some aspect of their ISP, and ISPs have frequently served as the basis for senior theses, successful grant proposals, graduate-level research, and fellowships.  Past participants of the Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development study abroad program have launched NGOs and organized fundraisers for social justice organizations in Brazil.

Prerequisites:

One semester of Portuguese or two semesters of a college-level Romance language other than Portuguese.

Access Virtual Library Guide

The coursework for the Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development program spans a wide range of subjects, from Portuguese language study and history to economics and gender studies. In addition to intensive language classes and lectures, students take a research methods and ethics seminar to develop research and cross-cultural communication skills. During the final month of the semester, students leverage their collective knowledge and skills to complete an Independent Study Project (ISP).

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Social Justice and Public Policy in Brazil - syllabus
(LACB 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Social Justice and Public Policy in Brazil course examines the historical conditions of colonial Brazil most pertinent to the study of social injustice and inequality in contemporary northeastern Brazil. The seminar provides the broad background necessary to understand the existence of social injustice by studying the emancipation struggles of indigenous, African, and Afro-descendants in historical context. It addresses long-standing issues of social exclusion and marginalization, focusing in particular on indigenous populations, women, children, and the landless and these groups’ struggles for human rights. The course also seeks to understand the influence and impact of social emancipation struggles and civil society organizations in the transition from authoritarianism to present-day democracy.

Race, Gender, and Sustainable Development in Brazil - syllabus
(LACB 3005/ 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Race, Gender, and Sustainable Development in Brazil course explores the historical and present struggles of Afro-descendants to dismantle a complex and violent system of discriminatory and exclusionary practices. It studies Afro-descendant social participation and development efforts. Particular attention is dedicated to the historical construction of Afro-descendant identity, the influence of Afro-descendant social and political movements, and recent governmental affirmative action to address racial discrimination and exclusion. The seminar also explores how human degradation is linked to environmental degradation. Within the thematic modules, emphasis is placed on efforts to achieve sustainable human relationships. Students will consider the influence of Afro-descendant and indigenous systems of knowledge, the building and strengthening of solidarity-based economies, and citizen participation. They will look at the formulation and implementation of public policies focused on social and restorative justice and community-generated articulations of new, creative visions of human relations.

Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Research Methods and Ethics provides the theoretical, conceptual, and practical tools for conducting field research in Brazil. In particular, it provides the means to identify and carry out an independent three to four-week field-based research project. Emphasis is placed on grappling with cultural differences and on recording, interpreting, and analyzing information from primary sources. The concepts and skills developed in the seminar underlie and reinforce all other program components. The seminar begins during orientation with an initiation to field study techniques and continues throughout the program. In addition, the ethical implications and consequences of observations, discussions, field exercises, interviews, assignments, and work journals are examined throughout.

Independent Study Project - syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Fortaleza or in another approved location appropriate to the project in northeastern Brazil. Sample topic areas: agrarian reform in the state of Ceará and the northeast; urbanization and economic development; urban social movements; Afro-Brazilian religion and culture; migratory trends and demographic impact; the changing role of women in Brazilian society; economic and social plight of favela dwellers; culture and racial identity in northeastern Brazil; nongovernmental organizations and community organizations; Afro-Brazilian music; issues of cultural identity; alternative healing practices; religion and culture; class issues in Ceará; social action among youth; rights of the elderly.

Intensive Language Study: Portuguese for Social and Development Studies I - syllabus
(PORT 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Portuguese for Social and Development Studies II - syllabus
(PORT 1500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Portuguese for Social and Development Studies III - syllabus
(PORT 2000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in beginning or intermediate classes. Special arrangements are available for advanced speakers of Portuguese.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

CachoeiraThrough educational excursions within the state of Ceará students learn about northeast Brazil's diverse urban and rural communities and compare regional responses to social injustice. Students visit a rural MST agricultural settlement to learn about agrarian reform laws and the group's struggle for more democratic structures of land tenure in Brazil. They also spend time in community-based projects with NGOs where they study the benefits and challenges of popular democracy. They talk to residents about local projects related to community organization, democratic culture building, social issues with respect to violence against women and children, international trafficking of humans, sex tourism, child prostitution, economic development and native culture modification, and economic and environmental reform. 

Educational excursions illuminate thematic coursework by further immersing students directly into diverse Brazilian communities.  Through firsthand engagement with multiple sources of knowledge, students observe and experience the social, political, and economic dynamics affecting northeast Brazil. The majority of educational excursions take place during the two-week period following the homestay in Fortaleza.

MST communityMovement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) Settlement

Students stay with rural workers in an MST agricultural settlement and examine the history, structure, and objectives of the MST. MST leaders share with students their philosophy of agrarian reform and the process and challenges associated with organizing rural workers to bring about change. In the past, students have participated in a variety of activities, including constructing cisterns, painting community meeting centers, constructing and planting community gardens, and meeting with youth or women’s groups.

Students will go on one of the following excursions:

Recife

The excursion to Recife gives students exceptional insight into the Brazilian women's movement by meeting with members of Casa da Mulher, a dynamic NGO working in urban and rural areas to address social issues including domestic violence, the labor market, and family and child care. Casa da Mulher also focuses on women in indigenous communities and promotes alternative practices and philosophies to empower indigenous women within their communities. Recife may be substituted for another location in the region depending on the semester.

Salvador, Bahia

Quilombo communityIn Bahia's capital city, Salvador, students engage with Afro Brazilian communities while examining the historical context of slavery and the social marginalization of African Diaspora populations in the post-emancipation era. Discussions focus on the continued presence of slavery, poverty, and racism as well as the influence of Afro Brazilian religious communities in the area. Students meet with social activists from the black movement to learn about the challenges of fully integrating the African community into Brazilian society.

After spending a few days in the city of Salvador, the group continues on to the Chapada Diamantina in the interior of the state of Bahia. At the Vale do Capão, students will consider ecological and environmental sustainability issues. This is the most densely populated agricultural region within the Parque Nacional Chapada Diamantina. The mountain range is a spectacular landscape characterized by sharp topography, clean water for bathing and drinking, and countless waterfalls and hiking trails. Students participate in classes related to environmental education for children and the community, herbal medicine, healthcare, and nature walks.

Please note that students either visit Recife or Salvador, but not both.

Bill Calhoun, Academic Director

staffBill Calhoun first came to Brazil as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to study Brazilian culture at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. He received his BA in political science and international relations in 1978 and went on to earn his MA in Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1980.  While attending the University of Wisconsin Law School, Mr. Calhoun spent a summer in Salvador, Bahia, as a Tinker Foundation Fellow. He returned to Bahia in 1986 as a Fulbright scholar.  He joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1988.
 
Mr. Calhoun has participated in several international investigations of the systematic civil, political, and human rights violations of minorities in Brazil. He served as a member of the World Council of Churches team to investigate discrimination in Brazil and worked for two years as an instructor for the Latin American Catholic Bishops Conference (CELAM) in Bogota, Colombia. In this position, Mr. Calhoun taught and assisted community and religious organizations in thirteen Latin American countries, including Brazil. In addition to his academic and professional interest in Brazil, Mr. Calhoun has traveled to the country many times in a personal capacity to conduct research and work with community organizations.

In his role as academic director, Mr. Calhoun oversees every aspect of the Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development study abroad program. In addition to delivering lectures, advising students, and coordinating academic seminars, Mr. Calhoun helps plan the program's educational excursions and works to ensure that students' academic needs are met.

Andrea Vasconcelos, Program Assistant

Andrea is currently completing her doctorate in education (EdD) as a practitioner-researcher with the University of Exeter in the UK. She is developing her thesis using a postcolonial theoretical framework of analysis to address the ethical responsibilities of a global educator and how key concepts in postcolonial discourse can be translated into practice. Her research focuses on a critical reading of contemporary theories and discourses around globalization, development, and pedagogical practices. Interrogation of dominant ways of knowing and being in the world is central to Andrea’s work, and her role in the Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development program focuses on developing critical literacy with students as they undertake ethical social research.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Andrea lived and worked in England for six years and has been living in Brazil since 2011. She is involved in a project called Wide Open Minds, which teaches English to young children in a marginalized community in Fortaleza with the nongovernmental organization IPOM (Instituto Povo do Mar). In addition to receiving a structured approach to language acquisition, students are encouraged to guide their own learning and develop critical perspectives on the problems faced by their community. Andrea has been working to open an educational space where something new can emerge and education can be practiced with an orientation toward the future and freedom. Andrea’s work values alterity, solidarity, and reciprocity and attempts to reimagine and rethink otherwise established educational orders that oppress and marginalize.

In her role as program assistant, Andrea assists the academic director in the overall delivery of the program with special emphasis on the Research Methods and Ethics thematic seminar. Andrea accompanies the group in class lectures, group visits, and other field experiences, providing assistance related to assignments and readings as well as preparing students for the Independent Study Project.

Oélito Brandao, Program Assistant

Oélito Brandao works with the academic director to help oversee the program's day-to-day activities. He manages the program offices and lecture facilities as well as the SIT library and computer center. Mr. Brandao has been associated with the SIT program in Fortaleza for almost 20 years. He has a BA in educational pedagogy from Universidade Estadual Vale do Acaraú and is active in several organizations and social movements in the community.

Caliny Pinheiro, Program Assistant

Caliny was born in Quixadá, Ceará and started working for the SIT Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development program as an intern in 2003. Caliny became a full member of the team after finishing her degree as an accountant at the State University of Ceará in 2005. Caliny assists the academic director in everything that relates to the financial sector: she is responsible for all of the payments and purchases made during the program. In addition, Caliny plays a crucial role in organizing events and keeping track of all program details.

Sampling of the Lecturers for this Program:

Professor Jaime Santana Sodré, PhD

Prof. Jaime Santana Sodré Pereira received his doctorate in social history and his master's degree in theory and art history from the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador. In addition to being a professor of design at the State University of Bahia, Professor Sodré is a musician, composer, writer, poet, and an Ogan of the Terreiro Tanuri Junçara and Oloiê of the Terreiro Bogum, both temples of the Camdomblé religion. Professor Sodré's published works include: Manuel Querino: Heroi da Raça e Classe (2001), As Histórias de Lokoirokotempo: Camdomblé para crianças (1995), and the Influence of Afro-Brazilian Religion in the Sculpture Art of Mestre Didi (2006). In addition he has presented the study "A Design of the Soul - A Legacy of Axé from the Mestres and Mestras of the Knowings and Doings" at the IV Brazilian Congress of Black Researchers 2006. Professor Sodré has produced two CDs, "Tribute and Ancestrality" (2002) and "The Sacred Mask of Candomblé" (1998) in addition to a soundtrack for the film Anjo Negro (Black Angel) that was produced by José Humberto in 1972. In 2007, Professor Sodré was recognized for revitalizing samba in the City of Salvador's schools.  He has received awards from the Fund of the United Nations for Children for having implemented UNICEF´s Statute for Children and Adolescents in 1991.

Review Professor Pereira's full CV

Professor Lindinalva Amaro Barbosa, MA

Professor Lindinalva Amaro Barbosa received a master's degree in linguistics from the State University of Bahia. The title of her monograph was "The Afro-Religious Poetics of Abdias do Nascimento." Professor Barbosa currently works as a researcher at the Center for Afro-Oriental Studies of the Federal University of Bahia. From 2003 to 2007, she worked as a researcher at the Palmares Cultural Foundation of the Culture Ministry of the State of Bahia.  Professor Barbosa has extensive experience teaching and researching black literature, educational and cultural plurality, Black Resistance, and identity and religions of the African matrix. Her publications include: Quilombo de Palavras (Marroon Community of Words) (2000) and "Black and Indigenous Religious Dimensions" (2005). Professor Barbosa has presented several papers at scholarly congresses such as: "Through the Waters of the Atlantic Ocean Sail Verses of Freedom: Pan-African Echoes in the Afro Brazilian Literature" and "Maternal Courage - Identities of Race and Gender in Black Poetics" (2007).

Review Professor Barbosa's full CV

Professor Linda Maria de Pontes Gondim, PhD

Dr. Linda Maria de Pontes Gondim received her BA in social sciences from the Federal University of Ceará. Her master's degree in urban and regional planning is from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and she holds a doctorate in urban and regional planning from Cornell University. Additionally, she has a post-doctoral degree from the University of Maryland. Professor Gondim is currently a professor at the Federal University of Ceará and teaches in the undergraduate program of social sciences and the graduate program of sociology. In addition, Professor Gondim has extensive experience in the areas of urban and regional planning, urban sociology, and sociology of law. Her areas of research include: urban social movements, popular participation, research methodology, and the planning and management of the city of Fortaleza. She has published vastly in several scholarly journals. Her articles include: "Slum Planet" (2007), "A New Model of Urban Development" (1992), "Social Urban Movements: Organization and Internal Democracy" (1991), and "Planning Practice Within Public Bureaucracy: A New Perspective on Roles of Planners" (1988). Her published books include: Research as Intellectual Handcraft: Considerations About a Method of Common Sense (2006), Clientelism and Modernity in Public Policies: The Governments of Change in Ceará (1998), and Planners in the Face of Power: The Case of the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1987).

Review Professor Gondim's full CV

Professor Henrique Antunes Cunha Junior, PhD

Prof. Henrique Antunes Cunha Junior studied sociology at the State University Júlio de Mesquita Filho in São Paulo and electrical engineering at the University of São Paulo. Professor Cunha holds a master's degree in history from the Universite de Nancy I in France and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine, France. He also concluded his specialization in economy at the School of Arts and Metiers of Nancy in France. Professor Cunha is currently a tenured professor at the University of São Paulo and the Federal University of Ceará. Prof. Cunha also teaches in the Graduate Education School where he specializes in the areas of African culture, Afro-Descendance, urban space, ethnic relations, history, and African and Afro Descendant culture. Professor Cunha is a member of the National Council for the Promotion of Racial Equality and is president of the Brazilian Association of Black Researchers. His publications include: "Racism, a Structural and Ideological Problem for Brazilian Social Relationships" (2008) and "Unfinished Abolition and the Education of Afro-descendents" (2008). His published books include: "Urban Space and Afro-descendence: Black Urban Spatiality (2007) and Education and Afro-descendance in Brazil (2007).

Review Professor Cunha's full CV

Professor Eduardo David de Oliveira, PhD

Professor Eduardo David de Oliveira received his BA in philosophy from the Federal University of Paraná (1997), with a specialist degree in African cultures and inter-ethnic relations from the Unibem (1998). He obtained a master’s degree in social anthropology from the Federal University of Paraná (2001) and a doctorate in education from the Federal University of Ceará (2005). Professor Oliveira's work is focused primarily on the following areas: ethics, Latin American philosophy, contemporary philosophy, social anthropology, popular education and social movements, African cosmovision, philosophy of Afro-Descendance, Afro Brazilian studies, history, and African literature and ancestry. Professor Oliveira is also a consultant for popular social movements in the areas of negritude, popular education, and solidarity economy. His publications include: Cosmovisão Africana no Brasil: Elementos para uma Filosofia Afrodescendente (African Cosmovision in Brazil: Elements for an Afro-descendant Philosophy) (2003); Ética e Movimentos Sociais Populares: Práxis, Subjectividade e Libertação (Popular Ethics and Social Popular Movements: Praxis, subjectivity and release) (2006); Filosofia e Ancestralidade: Corpo e mito na filosofia da educação brasileira (Philosophy of the Ancestry: body and myth in the philosophy of Brazilian education) (2007) and; Ancestralidade na Encruzilhada (Ancestry in the Crossroads) (2007), published by the Gráfica e Editora Popular de Curitiba.

Professor Francisco Amaro Gomes de Alencar, PhD

Professor Francisco Amaro Gomes de Alencar holds a BA in geography, a master's degree in development and environmental studies, and a doctorate in sociology from the Federal University of Ceará. He is currently a professor in the Department of Geography at the Federal University of Ceará. His teaching and research apply primarily to the areas of rural settlements, agrarian reform, land tenure, and management of rural settlements. Professor Amaro has worked extensively with governmental agencies such as IDACE (Development Agrarian Institute of Ceará) and non-governmental organizations including PNUD BRAZIL (United Nations) to plan debates and conferences. He also has assisted with the implementation of policies relating to land reform and rural settlements. His publications include: "Reflections on the participation of settlers in the Municipal Election" (2005) and "Grassroots and Government Conflict" (2003). He has co-edited several books and published Intimate Secretes: The Management of Settlements of the Agrarian Reform, 2000.

Review Professor Amaro's full CV

The Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development study abroad program includes urban and rural homestays in order to expose students to two different lifestyles and perspectives on social justice and economic development in Brazil.

Fortaleza Homestay

homestayDuring the first seven weeks of the program, students live with host families in Fortaleza. Students gain valuable insight into urban Brazilian life and visit other participants' homestay families to expand their community contacts. Host families are chosen for their interest in, and connections to, the program theme. Most host families come from working and middle class backgrounds and represent a cross-section of ethnicities.

Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) Homestay

During their educational excursion to a rural MST settlement, students stay with working families and meet with movement leaders to learn about the importance of the MST movement and the challenges facing that community. Often, students are able to actively participate in their homestay families’ agricultural activities, such as milking cows, harvesting crops, or taking cattle to pasture.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels, private homes, and/or small hotels.

Program Dates: Spring 2015

Program Start Date:  Feb 23, 2015

Program End Date:    Jun 7, 2015

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Nov 1, 2014

 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $16,030

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • History and politics
    • Geography and economics
    • African Diaspora
  • Research Methods and Ethics course on Human Subjects Review and research theory and practice
  • Intensive language instruction in Portuguese
  • All educational excursions to locations such as the Interior Ceará, north and northeast Brazil (either Recife, Salvador, or Sao Luis, including all related travel costs)
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food) 
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board:$3,260

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period.  This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Fortaleza), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.  Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly or through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay. 
  • All homestays (seven weeks in Fortaleza and 2-4 days in a rural Movement of Landless Rural Workers settlement)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly or through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare

International airfares vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses:$400

Immunizations varies

Books & Supplies :$200

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during a semester abroad vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region.  See a full list of our alumni contacts.  Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

 

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