The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Thomas Shannon, Jr., arrived yesterday on the MV Explorer to help bring the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil to the forefront of academia.
With only two days on board as the MV Explorer sails to Manaus, Ambassador Shannon and members of his staff are immersing themselves in a variety of classes to help students best understand the changing role of Brazil throughout the world.
Ambassador Shannon began by presenting in Global Studies, speaking about Brazil’s growing economy and democracy, as well as its relationship with other South American countries and the rest of the world.
“Brazil is a country that has completely shifted its social and economic status in the past twenty years,” Shannon said. “As the U.S. begins to look around and determine who they will be working with to try to solve some of the world’s problems, we have in Brazil a country that’s shown how to move from a closed economy to a market economy, and a country that shows that you can face deeply trenched social problems and create democracy.”
This is particularly important now, Shannon said, because it gives other nations a model to present to countries in the Middle East or in other nations striving to overcome obstacles towards democracy, and say, ‘look at what Brazil has done,’ rather than ‘look at what we have done.’
Brazil and the United States have always had a healthy relationship, Shannon said, adding that Brazilians spend $7 Billion per year while traveling through the United States, and that some of the world’s most well-known companies, like Anheuser Busch and Burger King, are owned by Brazilians.
“Every chicken nugget you eat is made by a Brazilian company,” Shannon said. “Those are just a few facts to show you that there’s a movement between Brazil and the U.S. that is new, and it is impacting the way we do business.”
After his presentation, Ambassador Shannon opened up the room to a question-and-answer session in which several students and members of the shipboard community asked about Brazil’s interaction with other South American countries, how certain programs like Scientists Without Borders are impacting Brazilian education on a global scale, and how the Ambassador handles environmental and indigenous issues in the Amazon.
The Ambassador is scheduled to visit a handful of other classes throughout the next two days, and students who attended yesterday’s presentation said it has helped them to think differently about Brazil-U.S. relations.
“The Ambassador's presentation really made me realize the importance of the developing relationships between the United States and Brazil, and what a major player Brazil is in the international community,” said Tucker Kelly, a sophomore at Harvard University.
Charquinta McCray, a political science junior at Duquesne University said the presentation helped her to better recognize the many ways in which Brazil and the U.S. are similar.
“I never realized that Brazil and the United States are so close, and more importantly that we have the same national goals including technological innovation, education, & environmental preservation.”
Listen to the podcast to hear the full Q&A session, which was both informative and enlightening.