When third- year Madeleine Yount decided to be a part of the Social Justice and Sustainable Development program, she made a commitment without knowing whether or not it would be financially feasible. With a price tag of about $21,000, the program was a huge expense that looked to become mostly debt – before she was awarded the Gilman Scholarship – which cut the cost down a solid margin. Now granted her wishes of studying abroad in Fortaleza, Brazil, Yount is more than excited.
“The Gilman Scholarship is a scholarship of up to $5,000 to help students who are receiving the Pell Grant study abroad, and it is especially for students that might be in trouble with their finances and might not be able to study abroad,” Yount said. The Gilman Scholarship is intended to help students become a part of an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. Yount happens to be interested in an educational development program sponsored by SIT Study Abroad in the area of northeast Brazil.
“For me as a development major, I’m interested in seeing how development programs – especially international development programs – work on the scene with local context,” Yount said. Yount has been interested in the area of Northeast Brazil for a while now, studying it closely over her first two and a half years at New College. The area is one of the most crime-infested and violent regions of the world, among the world’s leaders in homicide rates per one hundred people and drug trade, but Yount feels like studying abroad in the area is a necessity for her education in development.
“Like I don’t really think I would understand or be able to continue my development studies – that’s why I’m going,” Yount said. “I’ve spent two and a half years researching this area, so it’s about time for me to go, and actually be there myself.”
Having never studied abroad before, Yount doesn’t know exactly what to expect. This Resident Advisor, TA and Student Writing Assistant, who has never travelled farther away than New York, is expecting to “freak out” but also to “not want to come back.”
“I expect that it is going to be hard with the language barrier – I’m learning Portuguese and Spanish at the same time. I’ve studied Spanish for two years now and I started to learn Portuguese because I am so interested in Brazil,” Yount said. “I’m expecting to be a little scared, since the northeast of Brazil is definitely not the safest place for tourists, but there are dangerous areas to any city so I’m expecting to be surprised and not know what I am expecting.”
“I’m really into dancing – that’s another thing I can’t wait to do in Brazil – which is to actually learn from the people that do the style that I dance now which has a lot of Samba influence,” Yount said.
Samba, one of her favorite types of dance alongside Salsa, is a type of dance originating in Brazil and seen as a musical expression of urban Rio de Janeiro. “I can get the American version of that with teachers that can teach me here, but I really want a more real and culturally relevant experience, if not take a class where I’d get to watch real performers because dance is a big part of my life.”
“I’m trying to keep it cool for right now, but I know the closer I get the more I’m going to freak out on the airplane,” Yount said in anticipation, a long journey laid out ahead of her.