Poverty Doesn’t Equal Culture


So many World Cup tourists will rent out homes in Rio’s slums hoping to save money and acquire an artificial adventure. I appreciate that people want to immerse themselves in Brazilian culture, but I’m not sure that poverty equals culture.

This CNN article mentions how various slums are still not clear of drug lords, gangs, and gun violence. I’ve personally seen what it’s like when foreign thrill-seekers face “danger” – in the case I witnessed, a camera was stolen, which is not that dangerous – and they freak out! I don’t want to imagine how these people would have reacted had the bad event been actually dangerous, life-threatening.

So if you want to learn about Brazilian culture and can afford to stay outside of a favela, visit a samba school, eat at local cafes (and not McDonald’s), talk to people, etc. But don’t expect that you will truly experience what it’s like for a Brazilian to live in a slum. Why? Because you get to leave. And assuming you don’t live in a favela, you won’t know what it’s like to receive visitors who find your lack of space quaint and lack of public services exciting-living.

For those who decide to go slumming in the favelas anyway, only go where you are invited. Try to recognize who is being genuine with you versus who just wants your money. And don’t assume you are happier than those who live there.

Hoping in the DREAM Act – More than a Thesis or Chore

The movement behind the DREAM Act gives many young people hope that one day they will have a chance to come out of the shadows. They hope to contribute to American society as well as receive the full freedom that comes with being a citizen. Because my parents are immigrants themselves and so many of my friends are as well, immigration became the theme for my thesis project in the University of Miami’s Multimedia Journalism Master’s Program.

As a kid, I used to hate doing house chores like cleaning up my room and would usually try to whine my way out of it. My father would tell me (in Portuguese), “Oh you don’t want to? Then get an education and work hard, then you can hire a maid. But until then, go clean your room.”

My parents, who arrived in Miami from Brazil in the 1980’s, taught me that we were here because our dreams could come true. And for a while, I really believed hard work was all it took until I got to college. That’s when I realized many of my friends couldn’t register for school or apply for financial aid or even just get a driver’s license.

So I produced a three-part video series published on Vimeo that looks into what the DREAM Act is and how it could change lives.

Only the DREAM Act can restore hope for undocumented youth: An interview with Immigration Lawyer Tristan Bourgoignie

Walyce’s Final Project on Undocumented College Students – Part One from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.

Achieving a higher education against all odds: Young, Peruvian Jimena Alvarado struggles to attend and pay for college because of her status

Walyce’s Final Project on Undocumented College Students – Part Two from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.

How colleges and the US would benefit from the DREAM Act

Walyce’s Final Project on Undocumented College Students – Part Three from Walyce Almeida on Vimeo.