Hearts in the Heart of the Amazon.

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Santarém, PA – Brazil, one of the most well known regions, with the sixth largest economy in the world. A tropical paradise with endless wealth throughout the Amazonian region, including, the human diversity that blends together with animal species and the land itself to create this biological diversity. Competing visions for the value of this ecological infested region has been in debate over the past few years.

After visiting Santarém, PA, the heart of the Brazilian Amazon with Roger Williams University students and professors. From New York, to Rio de Janerio, to Belém, to Santarém. Getting a personal perspective and understanding from local professors, farmers, police officers, private companies, and even, the head priest of Candomblé, an African-originated religion practiced in Brazil. One can truly understand the significance of saving this vast rainforest. With the start of understanding the endless benefits and peace through preservation, and putting in practice the Brazilian system of forest-dwellers for preserving its forests for the biodiversity in the Amazon region. Setting aside the maximize profit theory through deforestation, and looking deeply into sustainable profit that is being made and sitting beside locals living in the Amazonian region.

Getting rid of my personal “Giant”, outsider outlook, viewing the many different animal species and humans living in this region, practicing sustainability and preservation in the small community of Santarém, one can only have but the highest respect for this beautiful community.

Cave of the Rock of God.

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Santarém, PA – June 2, 2012, at 3:00a.m the groups of students and professors, packed their hammocks and belongings for a Riverboat trip across the Amazon River to Monte Alegre, PA, to view the archaeology cave paintings. The group attached their hammocks on to a hook on the Riverboat, and swung to sleep. The next morning, breakfast was prepared at 6:00a.m; the students had class on the boat taught by Professor Jeremy Campbell. The students later climbed the mountain, along with a tour guide, to view the cave paintings Serra De Lua,which translates, Painted Rocks. The group climbed to the top of the mountain, and into the Cavernade Itatu Pa Oca, “Cave of the Rock of God”.

Practicing Sustainability.

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Santarém, PA – May 30, 2012, students and professors eagerly attended a lecture taught by Cristovon Sena, a Forest Engineer who studied in Belem. Students sat in a class-like room surrounded by books and framed black and white pictures.  The lecture began with a brief introduction and warm welcome. Students took notes of the lecture, Professor Jeremy Campbell, stood next to Sena and translated what was being said in Portuguese, and Professor Paola Prado filming the lecture. Continuing on with the current issues, setbacks, and the remembrance of the past, (i.e. the rubber economy) in this wealthy Amazonian region. Sena explaining to the students that Brazil was famous for the role of rubber. Brazil was the only area you could get rubber, and every tool required rubber and it was only in the Brazilian Amazon.

“You can’t make nothing out of nothing”, said Christovon Sena.

As the lecture continued on about the history of the Brazilian Amazon, the students later went to Bosque Santa Lucia, and visited Reinaldo Oliveira, a local farmer in Santarem who currently practices sustainability towards the Amazonian region, specifically his farmland. The students had a tour around Oliveira’s farm; Oliveira displayed the process of growing Curauá. The students took part using the machine that shreds the Curauá.

“Tastes healthy!” said Jillian Hamlin, Environmental Science major at Roger Williams University.

Oliveira brought out a box of honey-coned treats for the group, and later displayed a box of herbal medicines explaining the use of each medicine.  

Cargilling.

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Santarem, PA – May 29th, 2012, the Roger Williams University group began there morning with a continuation of the construction worksite in Alvorada, PA, after the morning workout at the construction site, the group wasted no time and went to soy company, Cargill, founded in 1865, an international producer and marketer of food agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. One of its branches opening in 2001 located in Santarem, PA. The students and professors of Roger Williams University attended the tour along with students from Instituto Esperança de Ensino Superior (IESPES). The large group listened to a lecture by a Cargill Manager. The lecture consisted of the mission statement, rules, achievements, benefits of employees, and worldwide exports. One of the setbacks that Cargill is aiming to achieve is to have the public eye recognize the purity of Cargill in Santarem. Rather than, the “claims” that Cargill is being accused of severe deforestation to the rich Amazonian lands.  Providing the display of positive successes and generous donations to the Santarém community. The group later went on a boat ride to view the soy processing machinery across the river, with protective helmets to be worn at all times, as well as witnessing female truck drivers and bonding with the students from the Instituto Esperança de Ensino Superior.

“Even though there was a language barrier, we still got along perfectly!”, said Rawan Bukhamsen, student at Roger Williams University.

View from the Top.

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Santarem, PA – May 27th, 2012, eight Roger Williams students, along with Dr. Jeremy Campbell, and a newly Amizade volunteer, William Bone, a fresh graduate from St. Mary’s University had taken a motorboat across the flooded river beach in the city of Alter do Chão, to climb a tall mountain, on a close by island. The hike up the mountain began with a short straight path; students saw lizards and tiger ants on their way to the heavy hiking trail. Hiking through tall grass, climbing up heavy rocks and stepping on rough gravel. As the group climbed higher and higher the view became more surreal.

“I seriously stopped every now and then just to let the view sink in”, said Jillian Hamlin, student studying Environmental Science at Roger Williams University.

As the hike continued on, the group reached the top of the mountain, taking numerous pictures of the view. Shortly after, some of the members began climbing a metal cross statue in the peak of the mountain. Soon, the group all joined to climb up the cross. Leaving the group (10 members), posing on the cross with Dr. Campbell and Nathan Darity at the top of the cross.

“Getting higher and higher only made the view more unbelievable”, said Veronica Glasson, Roger Williams University student.

Later, the group slowly stepped down the cross and headed back down through the same hiking path keen to step back on the motorboat to feel a cold breeze.

Kayaking in Tapajós.

Santarém, PA, May 26th 2012 – After going to local markets around Santarem Roger Williams University students began a Journalism class with Dr. Paola Prado. Later, went kayaking in the Tapajos River. With the help of Frank Sousa, a professional kayaker, to support students who had difficulty with kayaking. The students wore the life vests and hoped onto the kayaks. Nine single kayaks and one double kayak were in the water. A motorboat was in sight for the faculty members, and also for people who had difficulty with the kayak.

“I like my jet skies and engines”, said Rawan Bukhamseen, student at Roger Williams University.

The students spent a few hours kayaking and swimming in the Tapajos River. Some witnessed large fins of pink dolphins and tropical birds landing on one of the kayaks.

Also in sight were motorboats with elderly fishermen using fishing rods and fishing nets. Some students fell over the kayaks, and got the chance to experience the blue waters while bouncing back on the kayak. The group had to rush back to shore while the sun was about to set. After deeply exploring the Tapajos River, the students headed back to their dormitories continuing a night reflection with the students and Nathan Darity.

The Pastoral do Menor.

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Santarem, PA , May 25th, 2012 — As Santarém  becomes more and more familiar to the students of Roger Williams University, beginning with an early morning Construction satellite site work routine, at 8:00AM, the students then visited The Pastoral do Menor, founded and started in 1987, a nonprofit charity for children inspired by Catholic faith. The students and professors, met Brother Ronald Hein, set up the camera gear, with the microphones attached to the camera, and began the interview. Brother Ronald spoke about the mission and accomplishments of The Pastoral do Menor, discussing the history of this center, the activities for the children, the rules and expectations. Brother Ronald spoke of one of The Pastoral do Menor objectives, “Get them again connected with their family to get them connected with school with their church to have more of a rounded education a rounded formation”.

The teachings of The Pastoral do Menor teach the children to be responsible grown citizens, the value and understanding of Jesus Christ, provided with a secure environment and a welcoming presence for all children. Provided with medical health attention, and nutrition. Brother Ronald spoke of a hand gesture tradition in Brazil, where you are asked for your blessing, with the giving of one hand for a kiss, and vise versa. This traditional greeting has been lost due to the media, giving value to other things, but here in The Pastoral do Menor, it is practiced and encouraged by Brother Ronald that creates a closer relationship between each other. After the discussion, a group of young girls held a dance performance for the Roger Williams University students, wearing floral designed skirts with a bright red top, and a bright red flower in-between their hair. Beginning with a smooth elegant dance, turning into fast beat dances, later, students and faculty joined the fun. Giving the students an opportunity to participate in traditional Brazilian music and dance. This tour around The Pastoral do Menor made the students aware of difficult situations, that The Pastoral do Menor community center is helping to improve adolescents and help these children find a better path to follow.