T-shirts make a splash in Brazil
It’s a simple T-shirt, black cotton with silk-screened words. The white “Sojourner” across the chest identifies the PLU students as temporary guests in another country. The phrase “global citizen,” screened in Portuguese, English and Spanish on the back, represents the countries the students are visiting – Brazil and Argentina.
The students are investigating the impact of globalization on South America. They are one of 27 groups currently studying away on all seven continents, and one of eight groups posting to the Sojourner blog.
Auxiliary services director Mark Mulder and assistant philosophy professor Brendan Hogan made the T-shirts as a way to achieve a group identity among the students. In the group’s few short weeks on the South American continent, it’s proven to be much more than a simple T-shirt, Mulder said.
“It is a chance for students to identify with their role as Sojourners, as ambassadors of global citizenship, and to showcase their connection with the countries which this class will visit,” Mulder explained.
The shirts have also acted as conversation starters.
When the group wore their shirts on a visit to the University of Sao Paolo, a Brazilian student became their informal tour guide. As he showed them around the campus, he explained the Brazilian higher education system. Likewise, the PLU students were able to discuss their experiences and course content with the student, Mulder said.
The group has extra T-shirts packed, which they’ve been handing out as appreciation gifts to speakers and others who have influenced their experience. For example, the group presented philosophy professor Ivo Assad Ibri from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo with one after he gave them a tour of his university and the University of Sao Paulo.
“He was so touched,” Mulder said. “He said he would cherish the shirt as a reminder of our visit.”
Mulder then recounted a conversation he with some local business students while waiting out a rainstorm in a local bank. Along with discussing music, school and the future, Mulder asked about their perceptions of Americans.
The students said they thought all Americans liked war, bombs and aggression. This troubled Mulder, who took the opportunity to explain not all Americans like war and that he dreamt of peace in the future.
The students appeared relieved, he said, and taught him the phrase “Paz e Amore,” meaning “peace and love.” They also showed him their hand gestures for the phrase, which consists of the index finger followed by the international peace sign of two fingers.
“There is so much opportunity in this world – particularly when we open ourselves up to talk about our differences, our similarities, and our hope for the future,” Mulder said. “Dialogue is a powerful thing, and we experienced that through this conversation.”
Read more about the experiences of all the Lutes studying away on the seven continents this J-Term at the Sojourner blog. Many have posted photographs of their travels, and visitors can post comments to blog entries.
University Communications staff writer Megan Haley compiled this report. Comments, questions, ideas? Please contact her at ext. 8691 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Mark Mulder.