As Latin America’s largest economy and home to half its people, Brazil is an emerging geopolitical and economic powerhouse – both in the region and on the world scene. It’s one of the much-touted  “BRIC” group – Brazil-Russia -India-China – of  countries on the rise.  In addition to being impressed by its strong economic growth, people are taking a look at Brazil for some of the new and innovative ways it’s dealing with complex social problems, especially its experiments in sustainable development.

So, clearly we need to be “in the know” on Brazil and this Abroad is geared at doing just that!   We’ll observe and directly experience contemporary Brazilian culture by  living with Brazilian families, working with  children in need, playing some pick-up soccer or learning capoeira moves,  meeting with thought leaders, interacting with the Christian Science community, learning to samba at Carnival, and following the political scene as a new Presidential election approaches.  We’ll experience both urban and rural Brazil – from the Afro-Brazilian northeast city of Salvador to the more European-flavored south on the coast.  Studying survival Portuguese at a language institute will allow us to navigate in the culture more as participant-observers, less as tourists.

On the sustainable development front, we’ll take an in-depth look at the city of Curitiba, a pioneer in green city planning, to see how it has weathered the ups and downs of the past 30 years of experience of living green and how it’s dealing with the challenge of major growth.  We’ll check out sugar-based ethanol as a gasoline alternative, a major Brazilian push.  We’ll trek in some of Brazil’s natural reserves and look at the country’s heavy use of clean, hydroelectric energy, powered by the incredible force of the Iguazu Falls.

In the process of this journey, we’ll become a learning family, bonded by common experiences and the resolution of personal and group challenges through spiritual and practical support of one another.