Last summer, first-year law students Alfie Marshall and Victoria Jones enjoyed an opportunity to make friends across the world and gain unique insights into international politics and culture by attending a free, two-week Virtual Summer School on Brazilian Studies.
It’s an opportunity that’s being made available again this year to two lucky undergraduate law students at Kent thanks to a long-standing research collaboration between academics at the Law School and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Belo Horizonte.
Undergraduate students keen to take up the opportunity in 2022 will have to be quick – the deadline for students to express their interest in attending is Monday next week (31 January)!
Over 15 days in July, the UFMG Summer School offers a solid background in Brazil and Brazilian studies. Topics covered include politics, history, foreign affairs, economy, geography, law, and arts and culture. There’s also an opportunity to take introductory classes in Portuguese language (the sixth most spoken language in the world).
Alfie said: ‘It was an eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I have made friends across the globe. Brazil in itself is a fascinating subject, and we were given a very in-depth introduction to the culture, economics and language, as well as some fascinating lectures by prominent figures such as Sylvia Steiner and Miguel Nicolelis. If you’re old enough to remember the 2014 World Cup, Dr Nicolelis developed the robotic legs for the first kick of the ball, and Dr Steiner was a Judge at the International Criminal Court. We also had an interactive tour of the Inhotim Museum, and a Luau at the end so it isn’t all lectures – it was an entirely immersive experience despite the online aspect. I’d recommend it to anyone but especially those interested in furthering their idea of international relations and global politics.’
The opportunity to be immersed in a different culture is a natural extension of the international ethos experienced by law students at Kent. Victoria said: ‘It has positively impacted my studies in allowing me to think about law in a more global setting, especially regarding the ongoing pandemic as Brazil has had some very different policies compared to the UK. It was also interesting to hear about what the Brazilian participants thought about these policies. This experience has also encouraged me to critically compare the Brazilian legal system to our own in England, enabling me to discover points of improvement in both.’
Laura Charleton, Senior Lecturer and Director of Admissions and International at the Law School has been impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment on the part of all law students who have taken advantage of international virtual opportunities since the start of the pandemic. Laura said: ‘I am working with colleagues across the University, such as Internationalisation Officer Emma Marku, to ensure that we maintain and increase these opportunities for law students to engage with other students around the world.
‘Students have already benefitted from cultural, linguistic and academic experiences provided by partners in Japan, Hong Kong, China, the USA and Canada. The virtual platform enables students to experience countries that they may never be able to physically visit and reap the benefits of exposure to different perspectives whilst gaining self-confidence and very often new friends along the way.’
Victoria highly recommends the opportunity: ‘It was a wonderful learning experience with very current pandemic-related topics which were really engaging. Even though it was virtual, the time difference was not too severe, but it did involve some slightly earlier mornings than usual. Despite this, it was absolutely worth every minute as I have learned so much and have interacted with people all over the world.’
How to apply…
Undergraduate law students at Kent keen to express their interest in attending the Virtual Summer School in Brazilian Studies with UFMG must submit a letter of motivation to Laura Charleton by 14.00 on Monday 31 January – check your Kent inbox for all the details.
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