Each day our students will blog about some of their experiences on the Brazil Travel Course. Our entry for Monday, 1/23 comes from Nick Gaudiot.
Our day started with a trip to PetroBras, a Brazilian oil company. It was very interesting to see how much of the oil business PetroBras controlled and equally as intriguing was how they were very open about having been a government monopoly. PetroBras is currently by far one of Brazil’s biggest oil companies and definitely appears to be able to grow and improve its positioning in the global market with its findings of the pre-salt oil reserves.
Our group then moved on to get lunch at restaurant, where again we saw something that was different from the norm in the United States; people were at a buffet style restaurant and would pay by the weight of their plate. After our lunch we went for a stroll and saw PetroBras’s original building before it started to grow and had to expand to the larger building that we had our presentation at.
Next to the PetroBras building was the new Cathedral that was built to suit the culture of the Brazilian population. It was built with almost no gold or extravagancies to meet the more liberal leftist ideals of the Brazilian people in the 70’s. It also portrayed the image of the Virgin Mary as a woman of African descent which would better portray the people of the Brazilian culture. From this point we took the bus and were taken to the old town Rio de Janeiro, and saw the older buildings that had the strong European influence.
Our second half of the day took place at the NGO, Viva Rio. The company’s goal is to try to aid those in the poorer communities and help them become more productive and contributing members of society. They offer training and apprenticeship programs to help ensure that they people can give back to the community they live in. The company has received so much positive attention for its good work that it has been asked by the United Nations to help in the reconstruction of the downtrodden Haitian people.
From my point of view it sounded like this company could use some help in its financial management as the company did not appear to be very knowledgeable on where or how much of the money they received went directly to the aid of the people. After receiving a quick tour of the operations of the NGO building, we returned to our hotel. For dinner, Professor Murray suggested to us that we try the Garota de Ipanema, which is the restaurant were the girl from Ipanema was written. When we were at the restaurant, we got a chance to see some street performers perform Capoeira, a Brazilian fight dance. Getting to see the culture of Brazil really gives one an understanding of the way businesses and culture are deeply interconnected