Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Shadowing the health officials and seeing exactly what they did really opened my mind and let me see what life really is as a health professional. The fact that we got firsthand experience with the world of public health was invaluable.
Educational excursions are an integral part of the program, complementing classroom learning and thematic coursework. Visits to underprivileged areas give you a deeper understanding of how historical oppression affects the lives of the poor in Brazil today.
Topics raised during excursions include:
- Racial inequality and politics in Brazil
- Historical oppression and social exclusion of Afro-Brazilians
- Political mobilization, racial democracy, and identity
- Health, environmental, and social justice
- Alternative and public healthcare options and outcomes
- Social determinants of health
- Community empowerment and activism
During excursions, you will interact with community leaders, community residents, and healthcare and other service providers to study the challenges of providing/accessing equitable and high-quality healthcare and social services.
You will participate in excursions to federal, state, and municipal health facilities and Afro-Brazilian religious centers, as well as to the Irmãndade da Boa Morte, a religious sisterhood founded in the nineteenth century by former slaves in Cachoeira.
Terreiro de Candomblé
A terreiro de Candomblé is a shrine or temple for the parishioners of Candomblé, one of the most widespread Afro-Brazilian belief systems and practices in contemporary Brazil. In Candomblé, health is integrated into the notion of a mystic universe, and the human body is not viewed as separate from the spirit of life. Candomblé helps to promote the healing process, which often takes place in the terreiro. In a country where most of the poor have limited access to institutionalized health facilities, the terreiro also functions as an important site for health treatments and support. During the excursion to a terreiro de Candomblé, you will speak with priests, priestesses, and parishioners about their beliefs and experiences.
Ilha de Maré (Tide Island)
You will travel by boat to Ilha de Maré. Located at the northern end of the Bahia de Todos os Santos (the Bay of All Saints), Ilha de Maré is home to a quilombo community. Although the island is not far in distance from the city of Salvador, the history and living conditions of its residents differ greatly from that of the mainland population. Until recently, the island was fairly isolated, making it an ideal place to observe and participate in the life of an Afro-Brazilian community. To date, the island still has no roads or cars, and in the township of Praia Grande some residents still communicate in African languages during religious activities.
During this excursion, you will learn about how social exclusion — understood as lack of access to health services, formal education, transportation, potable water, and employment — interacts and impacts the life of Afro-Brazilians. In particular, you will consider economic sustainability efforts for women and how economics relates to the health status of its inhabitants. You will also study the environmental problems affecting the community, particularly local fishermen, which in turn relates to the community’s health and well-being.
You will also spend four days in the rural area of Cachoeira. On this excursion, you will shadow public health professionals and primary community health agents, visit traditional healers, and visit educational institutions. You will also conduct interviews and learn about the community. You will come away with an understanding of how the community accesses different health facilities and resources and what daily life looks like in this particular area.
You will spend a week in the rural quilombo community of Remanso located outside the city of Lençois, in the Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina. You will have an opportunity to explore how social exclusion leads to human rights and racial infringements and to learn about the connection between physical environment and health, identity building, community empowerment, and sustainability efforts. While specific activities may vary from semester to semester, students have done such things as painting community meeting centers, constructing and planting community gardens, and meeting with youth or women’s groups; they have also learned how to fish, make traditional medicine or honey, or construct fish traps as a way to engage with the community members and learn more about local livelihoods.
In Fortaleza, you will have the unique opportunity to engage in an exchange with students on SIT’s social justice program. You will listen to talks about social justice, construct a basic theoretical understanding of how these issues are being discussed in the city, and visit a range of NGOs that are working on these themes and with whom the Fortaleza students are conducting their own studies. This visit will be reciprocated when Fortaleza students visit Salvador to focus on health as an issue of social justice and a human right.