West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 27, 2007
Reflection Day 15
A few of us woke up at 10 for mass at a church a few blocks from the hostel. I´m not Catholic, but I always appreciate stained glass windows, soft
music, and purposeful standing up and sitting back down again on a Sunday morning. Afterward we walked to the Hippy Market. Over 500 stalls selling
jewelry, clothes, art, and wooden crafts. I regret not buying a pair of the capoeira pants. I´m not sure if I´ll be able to bring capoeira to WV without the dedication and skill that would surely come with owning the official pants? Probably while I was weighing the pants issue, I managed to lose everyone I came with. The major successes of the market were eventually finding Aimee, Professor Outterson, a leather purse for my friend Annie, and lunch?ham and cheese, predictably.
After a short break at the hostel we loaded into vans and drove to the world́s largest stadium, Maracana, for a futbol (soccer) game: Flamenga v. Botofogo. To my understanding, this was kind of the Rio equivalent to a Cubs/White Sox game. We stood cheering the entire game with our jerseys on. The concessions (beer) were
much cheaper than at American games. I think the game ended in a tie.
The day easily could have ended there and I would have considered it a full day, but following the Brazil prograḿs tradition of a focused commitment to learning and cultural understanding, we got back in the vans around 11 and went to a favela funk party. As gringos, we were ushered into a large balcony with the other tourists where we could watch the actual party go on below us. That felt a little odd but once we actually went downstairs I understood that the safety precautions were just that, and not comfort precautions. The building was an old garage converted to a party venue and run by ex-cops. Sunday night there were probably about 2000 to 3000 people there but Luiz said that on Fridays they get up to 8000. A lot of us were so tired from the game that all we could do was sit on the balcony and appreciate the music and strobe lights. Most of us left around 2 a.m. but a couple people stayed representing the group and danced well into the morning with their new Brazilian friends.
It was another exciting long day and late night in Brazil, but a fairly unique one filled with large gatherings of people at every event. Mass, market, football, and funk. Social collectivism doesn´t get much better.
West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 26, 2007
Day 14 Reflection
WVU Law students and faculty visit the reknowned Christo Redentor statue, the world famous religious and political symbol of Rio de Janeiro and Brasil
After a long night of muyto rapido (from the Portuguese word meaning very fast) salsa and samba dancing at a local night club with the students from FGV, yet another morning came far sooner than anyone wanted. While I must concede that it was one of our later wake-up-times, nine o´clock has never seemed earlier. Although I like ham and cheese sandwiches as much as the next guy, having one for breakfast everyday for about two weeks is enough to drive any man (or woman) away from such a sandwich. . .
I ate it again anyway, and before we knew it, it was time to pile into vans to visit our next attraction: Brazil´s equivalent to the Statue of Liberty, the Christo Redentor (aka the Christ statue) on Corcovado mountain. The Christ statue sits atop of this very tall, yet narrow mountain, which we ascended in vans hairpin turn after hairpin turn. I have no idea how they were able to build roads up to this place, but I expect divine intervention played at least some minor role in the process. The statue is the largest art deco sculpture in the world, and despite the clearly touristy nature of the place, there remained a kind of peaceful aura that was felt even by those who are not particularly religious. Also, while there the group assembled to discuss the symbolic comparative meaning of the Christ Statue, a religious symbol, a primary symbol of Brazil in comparison to the secular Statue of Liberty one often thinks of as the symbol of the United States. While Catholicism is the dominant religion in Brazil and there have been pushes to establish Catholicism as the established religion President Lula nixed the idea. We concluded the discussion contemplating whether the United States, with its emphasis on secular government, or Brazil, which has a crucifix in the Espiriatu Santo Supreme Court, was more tolerant of religious differences. However, we were unable to come to any real conclusion and basically decided that we just take two different approaches to religion in government.
After everyone had an opportunity to get a photo opt with the statue we traversed back down the windy road to a trolley, which we took to downtown Rio. The trolley we rode was packed to gills and many of us had to hang onto the side and stand. I thought this sounded like a fun and exciting proposition, however in practice it proved to be rather dangerous. On two occasions I was almost squished into either a wall or truck. Fortunately, we all made it downtown unscathed. Downtown we went to visit cities primary Catholic cathedral (the name has left me). This was one of the most bizarre looking cathedrals I have ever seen, it looked like some kind of amalgam of a Myan pyramid and Star Wars space ship. Inside it was simply a hollow circular room that tapered up to the ceiling that looks to be a couple of hundred feet up. Although I am far from Catholic, I undeniably felt a similar feeling of peace not unlike what I experienced at the Christ statue.
We left. I napped, and napped, and napped. In fact I napped through the beach soccer challenge with the FVG students, but from what I understand we did just fine. By the time I was able to rouse myself out of the hammock, it was time for dinner at the Brazilian steak house (Churrascaria). This place was insane. I have never consumed so much meat in a single sitting. These guys just kept coming around with these huge skewers of any type of meat you could imagine. And they just kept coming and coming and coming. I can safely say that it was the best I have eaten on $15 ever. Brazil does not emphasize tipping as we do in the U.S. but I can´t help but feel like we are jipping the waiter when they get a petty ten percent of the bill. That?s culture for you I guess.
After a quick stop at the Copacabana Market to pick up gifts and souvenirs, we went back to the hostel to get ready for the night. Well it was already 11:30 so I guess the night was already upon us. After heading out for the night and spending a couple hours and too many reals, several of us decided it was time to take a cab home because it was late and we thought it would be safer not to walk in the dangerous streets of Rio. So four of us flagged down a cab and jumped in and figured we are well on our way to safety. About 15 seconds after we climbed into the cab, the cabby pulls over and four federal police stick their heads in our windows and open the doors, yanking our semi-drunken-American bodies out of the cab. We are then patted down and my wallet was taken, fortunately they gave it back, 50 reals lighter of course. So much for the cab being safer. . . Welcome to Rio.
West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 25, 2007
Day 13 – Reflection
Our first full day in Rio started off with the typical ham and cheese Brazilian breakfast at our hostel. We then took taxi’s to FGV where we had classes all day. Brazilian law school is different from American law school in that Brazilian law professors lecture. Here, American law professors practice the Socratic Method. Professor cummings had no problem continuing the Socratic Method across international borders. After picking on the American students, he opened the floor to the Brazilian students for comparison between the American and Brazilian law systems. We earnestly discussed corporate social responsibility in the U.S. and Brazil, even debating the role that diversity plays in the corporate boardroom. After our day of classes at FGV we headed back to the hostel. Our social activity for the night consisted of going to a ?club? with the FGV students. Rumors were swirling that this club played a little bit of hip hop so I was over ecstatic. After listening to endless techno and funk in Vitoria I was in dire need of some hip hop.
We took two buses to Lapa where this ?club? was supposed to be. The term ?club? was used ever so loosely. After a 25 minute bus ride we arrived in Lapa but way too early because the club was not open yet. Instead of staying on the bus or in front of the club we decided to venture out. We walked around a bit where some of us chose to eat dinner while the rest of us decided to go back and head into the club. As we got there we took over several tables and we were then informed as to what the night would hold: instead of a DJ there would be a live band and instead of hip hop or even funk or techno there was Samba. After complaining once again to Professor cummings about the style of music for the night and being promised that hip hop was in my near future, we all proceeded to observe an older couple taking over the dance floor. They had to be on the dance floor by themselves for about 45 minutes before another couple joined them.
By this time, the dance floor was filled with couples who graced across the floor so effortlessly and those who tried. As the night and the alcohol went on, more of our group ventured out on the floor. Natalie was one of the first ones out there. She took over the dance floor. Soon Allen was on the floor trying his best to get some sort of rhythm going. Amy was very close to dragging Professor cummings out on the dance floor but he too shares my love for hip hop and refused. She almost succeeded and I think even made Professor cummings blush because he turned to me and begged me to keep Amy away.
The most interesting part of the night had to be Natalie climbing not only over 3 chairs but over 3 people as well, one of which was me, to drag Alvin onto the dance floor. She pulled and pleaded until he finally caved in. After what was an interesting night to say the least, some of us opted to go home on the ?early? bus and left the ?club? at 2am. Even though I didn?t do an ounce of dancing, it was still a fun night and I can safely say it will be one of the few times, if not the only time, that Natalie Wright would stay out later than me to party and dance.
West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 24, 2007
Day 12 Reflection
After spending a late Wednesday night with the Brazilian hosts and a few Americans trying to squeeze as much time together as possible, I had to wake up at 6 am on less than 3 hours sleep. On the orders of Vitor, we were supposed to report to the Praia de Costa Hotel at 6:30 am to catch the bus to the airport. Fortunately, I was staying at said Hotel and was able to squeeze every last second of sleep possible out of the night. As always, the 6:30 deadline was set in sand and after the entirety finished trickling in at 7:15, the bus headed to the airport.
We were supposed to catch a 9:30 am flight to Rio de Janeiro, however, the flight was again delayed. Many Brazilian hosts were there to send us away, and it was a poignant moment for many people with the sadness of leaving their new found friends, and the excitement of traveling to Rio.
While waiting in the airport, I saw episodes of Seinfeld on TV, and made a point to not watch the final episode of LOST that was showing on TV. Finally the flight arrived at 10:30, and we touched down in Rio at 12:30, ahead a time zone. Buses from the Ipanema Beach House Hostel at which we?re staying took our luggage directly from the
airport to the Hostel, and we took buses to FGV in a building in downtown Rio. We then met up with the FGV first year law students for a lunch. After finishing lunch, we headed back to FGV for classes.
Because we were so late due to the delay, the schedule was changed and we only had one lecture, led by Professor Outterson, with a Brazilian Professor adding some too. The class discussion was about the morality of Big Pharma charging exorbinate prices for drugs, and in essence only making the medication available to the wealthiest nations. The
example discussed was the immunization for HPV which leads to around 250,000 deaths per year. 93% of HPV occur in the world?s poorest countries, but the cost of HPV immunization need for girls 11-25 is $360. Compare that to the $40 the average person in a poor country spends on health care annually. The issues of the Big Pharma’s IP and
whether a country can have a compulsory liscence was discussed.
After class, we took taxis back to Ipanema Beach House. I walked around the corner and ate dinner at a nice place with fruit and juices. After just hanging out and getting settled in, we met the FGV students at the hostel and walked with the Brazilians to a pub where we all talked and got to know each other a little better. I made it home without incident, but 4 WVU students took a taxi home and were robbed by the police, when, working in concert, the taxi was pulled over by the cops and they wetted their beak to the American’s money. Went to sleep around 1 after a very long day.
West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism
May 24, 2007
Day 12 – My Reflection
Today started with our departure from Vitoria. This departure resembled something that was very unexpected. I felt as if I was leaving my family. There was a similar consensus throughout the group. Our host families embraced us and indulged our minds into their culture and lifestyle. I was no longer a visitor or friend, I became part of their family. I have never experienced such generosity and care from anyone except my family. Leaving Vitoria was difficult but I left with assurance of a place in Brazil that I can call home.
The departure was difficult but quickly filled with excitement for the next wave of our study abroad. We were headed to Rio De Janerio. One of the most popular cities in the world. As a child, I remember Hip Hop songs referring to Rio with as much anticipation that I was experiencing during our flight. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a convoy of vans that took us to the one of Brazil’s most prestigious higher education institutions, FGV, Fundaçao Getulio Vargas Direito Rio. For the next few days, we have the privilege of taking class amongst this institutions’ best students and professors. As we were in route from the airport, we passed areas that were very beautiful and some that were equally dangerous. From first sight, Rio reminds me of New York City with its beautiful skyline and busy environment. The skyline in Rio incorporates wonderful mountains and the seacoast within its visual perception.
During our first class, Professor Outterson and Michel Lotrowska gave a lecture on the IP Issues in Global Pharmacy. The lecture and discussion opened my eyes to needed pharmaceutical drugs in third world and developing nations such as Brazil. We talked about a new HIV vaccination that could only be attained by middle to high class Americans and the question was posed as how would those vaccinations ever be available to the countries and people that are really in need of this vaccination. Out of the 345,000 individuals that die every year from HIV, only 16,000 are from this privilege middle to high class homes. The remaining 229,000, will be not able to afford such a vaccination.
Today was filled with education, breath taking views and memories of a Vitoria family that we all can call our honorary Mountaineers.
West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 23, 2007
Reflection ? Day 11
It was our last day in Vila Velha. Emotions were mixed as we were anxious to move on to Rio de Janeiro and experience what that city had to offer but how we wanted to stay with our new friends from UVV as long as we could. We all made friendships that will last a lifetime.
I woke up late in the day; sometime around noon. It was a holiday in Vila Velha and it was a free day for our group. Most businesses were closed, but some restaurants opened up a little later in the afternoon. My host Xiago had to work in his family?s office in Vitoria, a short drive across the bridge to the neighboring city. So I (with a group of friends) started the day off at the beach. The beach in Vila Velha is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Unspoiled by tourists, the Convent above the skyline, islands dot the horizon as giant cargo ships make their way to the port in Vitoria. Any day that starts at the beach is already a great day.
Shortly after meeting my friends at the beach, they had gotten an earlier start than I had, we went for lunch. Every day in the city, lunch had been spectacular. From perfect sushi, to other seafood, fruits and juices; everything was delicious. Everyone should go to Brasil if only for the food. Today for lunch I got my first taste of churrascaria ? Brasilian Bar-B- Que. It?s always an all-you-can-eat event in which the wait staff brings mountains of steaks, roasts, chickens, and the occasional ?other,? all on the skewers they were cooked on in a giant rotisserie. The Brasilieros love their meat, and they take it very seriously. We had a large group but the staff didn?t miss a beat and before long the Americans had settled into the wonderful beginning stages of a meat coma. The Brasilieros who had paced themselves much better won the endurance race. But as usual the Americans took the sprint for the finish and came up short. I don?t think I have ever had one meal consist of so much meat, and delicious meat at that.
After lunch it was back to the beach. Not just the beach, to a wing. Wings are these little ?bars? on the beach under a type of wing to keep some rain out and break a little bit of the wind. The tables are on the sidewalk or the beach and there is usually a TV on. If there is no Football to be watched they are usually tuned to telenovelas. Today I had the best of the best to watch. The UEFA championship match was on. I had beach, I had soccer, I had agua de coco; I don?t think I could ever be pulled away from this country.
We stayed at the beach until it was getting dark. It gets dark early here. Of course it?s winter time. But it gets dark early around the equator. Very close to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness every day. So around 5:30 when it is pitch black outside, the market starts setting up on the beach, selling handmade shoes, art, jewelry, shirts and whatever food you could imagine. The girls with us wanted to buy some t-shirts and bead jewelry. Of course the guys with us became sidetracked when a bebedo started to harass us. He started off asking for a cigarette and when he found out that no one with us smoked he became kind of irate. Luckily by getting up and moving we placed a sidewalk bench between our group and the drunk. He couldn?t figure out how to navigate around the bench but he continued to yell at us as the vendors mocked him. Moments later he lost interest and fell down as he tried to walk away. I think this meant it was time to leave the beach.
However a few of us wanted to get a last taste of the sorvette we had grown to love while we were there. Brasilieros sell their ice cream, and a lot of buffets, by the kilo. So the ice creams and toppings are self serve, and then you pay a set price by the kilo. I?m sure it doesn?t go very well for those who have eyes bigger than their stomachs. But the five of us managed. From there it was a short ride and stop at a flower market on the street before meeting up with my host Xiago before dinner and bowling.
I thought the lanes in the Mountainlair were bad . . . . Top Strike Bowling provided the best Brasil had to offer in terms of the old American past time: Bowling, beer, and food; all with Brasilian style . . . well maybe not the food, but the beer certainly fit the Brasilian mold. The lanes were warped and the balls were beaten to pieces. But they rolled and the pins fell if you were lucky enough to hit them. The waiters there stayed near and kept filling out our order cards with the things we were ordering. It was our last night in Vila Velha, we all wanted to savor it as long as possible.
After bowling we returned to our good friend Shalom?s apartment for a little late evening pizza and get together with our new friends. It was wonderful being able to tell all of the hosts ?Thank you,? and to be able to say good bye to new friends, and even still meet those few people who you hadn?t met yet. It was already a day to remember. Of course the pizza this time wasn?t exactly covered in mayonnaise like the time before.
My host worked and was going to class, as were a few others. So around midnight we said good bye to everyone and headed off to The Triangle in Vitoria. It was going to be a good night or we were never going to speak of it. We met so many people there: Brasilieros, a group of middle-aged men from all over the English Speaking world, and a few others as well. But the night came and went. However, some of us refused to let it end.
My host and I, along with John Bupp and his host Thomas drove around Vila Vehla for a while. We got some food, we had some laughs and before we knew it, it was 4:30 AM. We drove to Thomas?s apartment and John packed. John and I told Thomas good-bye and Xiago, John and I went back to Xiago?s apartment. It was closer to the meeting point and Thomas had to go to class in the morning. I still don?t know if he actually made it.
Once in the apartment we had about an hour to sleep before it was time to get up, wonder downstairs and get on the bus to the Airport. I don?t think I actually slept, I didn?t want to be that guy that got left behind, Although every day I wish I were already back. I?ll never forget how my host spoke very, very little English, and my Portuguese wasn?t spoken so well either. Still, I loved every minute of my time in Vila Velha and I don?t think that there is anything to be done in Rio that can top my experience here. The friends I?ve made and the experiences I have had will be with me forever.
West Virginia University College of Law, 3L
May 22, 2007
Day 10 Reflection
WVU College of Law and UVV Law Students together in beautiful Vitoria
It was a long day and it began as most days did in Brazil, with ham and cheese. Early in the morning my host, Helio, and I weaved through traffic on a motorcycle discussing his upcoming interview. Several students were interviewing for the chance to study at the college of law next year. It was flattering to see someone so excited at the chance to study at our school. Once we arrived several Brazilian students were already there, waiting for their chance at WVU Law. The interviews went by quickly, and all the candidates were impressive to say the least. Their reasons for wanting to study in the States varied. Some wanted to master international business law, others wanted to improve their English, and still others were looking for a chance to bring back improvements for the Brazilian legal establishment.
Following the interviews we started our day of studies. First there was an excellent lecture led by our own Prof. cummings covering Brazilian and American corporate governance issues. We discussed in comparative fashion the systems of corporate governance in Brazil and the United States. We then took a lunch break at a local Japanese restaurant, Tayo. After gorging ourselves with all you can eat sushi, we had two presentations by UVV professors. First Prof. Opsommer provided us an insightful view of US foreign policy through Latin American eyes. There was definitely some hostility towards our US policy spanning the last 80 years, yet the conversion still remained positive. Following this lecture, UVV´s Prof. Renzo put on a riveting seminar covering the Brazilian judiciary. We ended our classes with Prof. Outterson´s presentation on Brazil and the WTO. Prof. Outterson led a discussion on the role of the WTO in the global economy and how specifically the U.S. and Brazil engage in the process.
We concluded this rewarding day of studies with a visit to the local Samba establishment ``Blow Up.`` We quickly became comfortable with our Brazilian friends. Before long Leo Jackson and company (Arthur Bryan, Alvin Hathaway and Rodney Williams) had joined the band to provide the patrons with a little taste of America. It was the perfect end to a fantastic day.
Our Brazilian Hosts
West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 22, 2007
Reflection Day 9
Today ended the second of two full days of classes at Vila Velha University in the state of Espirito Santo, Brazil. The WVU-UVV Colloquium on Law Culture and Politics brought together 35 US students, 45+ Brazilian students, 3 US professors, 6 Brazilian professors, and two judges for 6 unforgettable days of personal, intellectual, and professional growth. Although I loved the hands-on field trips, impromptu discussions, well-planned seminars, delicious Brazilian meals, and heart-warming home stays, the highlight of the colloquium was having students become the professors. Following excited discussions from our readings, Dean McConnell, Professor cummings, and Professor Outterson would call on students to explain a legal, economic, or political concept or institution in the US and then open up the floor to the keen, visionary students who taught WVU students the Brazilian equivalent! In polished English, they articulated and defined the Brazil that is today and the Brazil that ought to be. Daniele, a UVV graduate and attorney who will study law at WVU this fall, would cite specific phrases of the Brazilian Constitution and apply these articles in answers to WVU students´questions. Andrea would diplomatically suggest how heavy US foreign policy reform would produce wide-spread benefits to ordinary people in many countries. AWVU student would ask a question about racism, legal education, civil law, corruption, and efforts to protect the Amazon and UVV students would respond. A UVV student would then as about capital punishment, uniform sentences, federalism, human rights, and so forth, and a WVU student would answer. I think neither words nor photographs can capture the thrill of cross-cultural learning: young people who care about their world teaching each other about the socio-political-economic reality in their countries and inspiring each other on how to make the world a better, more livable, fairer place. Above the knowledge that any textbook or movie offers, my 18-27 year-old Brazilian educators took me on the most exciting academic journey a college classroom has yet to offer me.
Professor Opsommer´s seminar on US Foreign Policy in Latin America surprised us. As opposed to the US legal system?s Socratic method and neutral professorial commentary, Professor Opsommer lectured, displayed her hypotheses on Power Point, and inserted her opinions and political stances. First, similar to our undergraduate programs, Brazilian law professors lecture?they do not socrat. (In Brazil, law is a 5-year undergrad program.) Second, Professor Opsommer gave us what many WVU students crave: their professors to state an opinion! While we understand the need to refrain from influencing young, impressionable minds, many a law course in the US leaves us wondering: what is the black letter law? Which side was right? What does our professor think?
Professor Renzo next explained Brazil?s judicial branch, the function of each general and specialized court, and the qualifications of judges at each level. While the US has bankruptcy courts, veterans courts, and the courts of general jurisdiction, Brazil has criminal, civil, family, labor, military, and other courts! The federal Supreme Courts of Brazil and US share a common history, though: only two female justices and only two black justices each. Interestingly enough, the Chief Justice of Brazil?s Federal Supreme Court is female!
Professor Outterson then absolutely stunned the Brazilian students with an open-mic-type seminar on the World Trade Organization and its law. He had certain concepts to teach that he put across through guiding students through a series of questions. They commented that they were very awake during his seminar and that they enjoyed the opportunity to speak!
That evening, Lysandra, a fun, English-speaking Brazilian law student arranged for us to participate in a capeoria class. We arrived at a park unaware of what to expect. What unfolded were three hours of dance, song, historic drum patterns, and instruction on slavery and Afro-Caribbean history. By the end, I learned how to move to an African drum beat and how to fall to the ground in self defense if someone kicks me. Because modern-day Brazil contained unrelenting indigenous people that resisted being enslaved, the Europeans sent for slaves from Africa. The masters forbade fighting between the slaves out of fear that slaves would eventually turn on their masters. In order to keep their talents alive and bodies fit, these Africans set their punches, kicks, and blows to rhythm. Set to music, the slow dance-like steps masked the self-defense moves that African slaves in Brazil sought to preserve.
Today?s line-up of events was amazing. Every day here feels like a week because our professors, coupled with the UVV International Programs Office, have decided that we will learn about and see everything possible. (Here´s a plug for this study abroad. If you´re a professor or student reading this blog, you have GOT to come!)
We have learned so much about comparing legal systems and pursuing public interest law. I project that many of us return to Brazil and some of us will work in Latin American non-profits, the U.S. government, or the private sector raising awareness and resources for causes we deem worthy. International development failures teach us, however, that development initiatives must be managed and run by the people themselves. Development is as much about improving someone?s economy and government as it is giving someone a voice to speak. I think that many of us have been touched by the stark differences between the haves and the have nots. As potential change-agents, we want to know how to make a difference. My law degree seems all the more useful.
Judge Tasso Lagon lectures on the differences between the Brasilian judiciary and the judiciary in the United States
It started out as a normal day in Vitoria. I awoke at my host familiýs and proceded to take my third cold shower of the week (I still haveńt figured out how to turn on the hot water at this point). My host, Vinicius, who is the greatest host I could have asked for, invited me to the breakfast table to have the usual fruit and ham and cheese sandwhiches. I dońt think I will want to eat another one of those for at least a year when I return home considering Íve had them every single day since Íve been here in Brazil.
After breakfast, we proceded to go to the University of Vila Velha (UVV) for a full day of classes. We were greeted by the President of UVV, Rector Manoel Celilano S. de Almeida. It was a nice welcome to the University as he discussed the history of Brasilian culture and law, introducing us to the history of Portuguese rule and the racial and ethnic evolution of the country since its founding. However, our initial time was cut short because we were on a tight schedule
to visit the Espirito Santo State Supreme Court and the Garoto chocolate factory.
Seeing a Brazilian court was a very different experience from being in a U.S. court. The courtroom itself had a large crucifix in the center of the back wall and on both sides of the wall, there were Christian paintings (one of King Solomon and one of Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ). If this were an American courtroom, the Christian symbols would cause an uproar but this is not a problem in Brazil. The court was in session while we were there and it appeared to be a very informal process compared to American standards. There, one of the 26 Supreme Court justices read verbatim from a document which lasted for at least twenty minutes. While this was going on, butlers in tuxedos were constantly bringing the justices water and coffee. A pretty nice perk to being a judge if you ask me. I also felt it was rude that many of the judges did not seem to be paying attention to the matter at hand. The other justices were having their own conversations and some were getting up from their seats and would begin to walk around. How can they properly decide or appeal a case in this manner? Acting this way would be a very inefficient process and could lead to unfair decisions.
Another thing I noticed was the lack of diversity in the courtroom. There were only 2 women on the 26 member state Supreme Court, and and I do not even recall seeing any Afro-Brazilians. The lack of diversity in the court is similar to our own courts in the U.S. with their lack of diversity. As we were preparing to depart, the Associate Chief Justice, first in Portuguese and then in English, formally acknowledged the presence of the West Virginia University College of Law on the record and welcomed us to Vitoria and Espiritu Santo.
After visiting the court, we took a tour of the famous Garoto chocolate factory. I kept making Willy Wonka jokes when we arrived and commented on how we looked like the Oompa Loompas in the hair nets and special jacket we had to wear during the tour. The tour was fun because we smelled chocolate the whole time and got to eat all the free samples we wanted while inside.
After the tour, we returned to UVV for afternoon classes. Dean McConnell and other Brazilian professors gave interesting lectures and the students and faculty of UVV were very welcoming. Professor Antonio Marcus Machado delivered a lecture comparing the Brazilian economy and economic system with that of the United States. He spoke using an interesting powerpoint presentation discussing the potential of Brazil and its place in the global economy. Dean McConnell lectured on the differences between the U.S. common law legal system and the Brazilian civil law system. Dean McConnell provoked a lively discussion between the WVU students and the UVV students wherein each shared their own perceptions of the legal system in their home country. The Brazilian students seemed to relish the opportunity to engage in Socratic discussion as it appears that most professors in Brazil teach in a purely lecture format. We enjoyed invogorating classroom lectures today.
The night ended with a trip to Shaloḿs rooftop. Shalom is a former exchange student to WVU and is a friend to many of the students on the trip. Shalom has a great place. It has an incredible view of the beach and also has a swimming pool and sauna. After the social it was time for bed and to get ready for another day of classes.
The Espiritu Santo Supreme Court while in session officially recognizes the visit of the West Virginia University College of Law
Matthew L. Clark
West Virginia University College of Law, 2L
May 20, 2007
Day 8 – Reflection
I awoke on the morning of Sunday May 18, 2007 around 8:30 AM, after a late night in Vitoria with friends from WVU and our newfound Brazilian friends. I ate a typical Brazilian breakfast that consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich, fresh fruit and coffee and then got dressed and ready for the big day that awaited us. On this day we would attend a bar-b-que at a Country Club (whose membership includes Brazilian state prosecutors) just outside of Vitoria, with our Brazilian friends and their families and then wrap up the evening with a pizza-party at Shalom´s Rooftop. Around 12:00 PM, my gracious and kind host, Vitor Santos and I drove to the hotel that served as a meeting place for the group. Vitor was relied upon by everyone to coordinate the activities and to make sure that everything went smoothly and according to plan. After Vitor made sure that everyone got on the bus, he drove Heather Bailey and myself to the Country Club. After a 15 minute drive outside of Villa Velha/Vitoria, we arrived at the bar-b-q.
The Country Club was quite nice—it essentially consisted of a pool, an enclosed soccer field, outdoor pavillions, a pool and covered grills. The sky was slightly overcast, there was a light breeze and the temperature was somewhat cold by Brazilian standards, but overall the weather was just fine for an outdoor bar-b-que. Upon arrival around 1:00 PM, we greeted those who were already there (Brazilians and Americans) and waited for others to arrive. Shortly after we arrived, a multi-instrumental/multi-choral Samba group began playing traditional Brazilian music that was absolutely wonderful. The songs seamlessly weaved in and out with one another, the singers were perfectly in key and the musicians played their instruments (various drums, guitars, shakers, etc.) flawlessly. With the wonderful sound of traditional Brazilian music floating in the background, we all began socializing with one another, ordering drinks at the bar and enjoying the delicious chicken, beef and garlic bread that was served at tables under a pavillion.
After socializing with our new Brazilian friends and eating for about an hour, many of us (including myself) gravitated to the soccer field. There were so many people interested in playing that we decided to split up into three teams and select teams via captains. It was quite nice playing soccer with everyone, including some of our new Brazilian friends. Two people deserve special recognition for their soccer-playing efforts: Professor cummings and a Brazilian Stuent named Manoel. Professor cummings deserves special recognition because he made several diving saves as goalkeeper and Manoel deserves special recognition because he scored numerous goals and basically, whichever team he was on won.
After a few long and exhausting hours of playing soccer with our Brazilian friends, I stopped playing and jumped in the pool to cool off. I spent the rest of the afternoon listening to the live music, eating the food that was served and chatting with Brazilians and classmates from WVU. One of the best conversations I had was with a Brazilian student named Helio—he was very curious about the American Common-law system (note: Brazil has a Civil Law System) and we spent at least an hour discussing and comparing aspects of the Brazilian Civil Law and American Common-law system. Helio expressed to me that he had a great desire to come to the WVU College of Law to learn about the Common-law system, so that one day he could perhaps try to introduce it into the Brazilian system. Around dusk, it was time to leave and we all boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel. At the hotel, my host Vitor picked up me and Heather.
Upon returning to my host family´s home, I took a shower, ate a snack and then headed to Shalom´s rooftop around 9:00 PM. Shalom´s rooftop was essentially a common-area at the top of a condo that overlooked the Atlantic Coast, right on the beach. At the party, the Americans and Brazilians socialized further, enjoyed pizza and listened to music. Toward the end of the party, we all congregated together and Professors Outterson and cummings made some introductions and went over the reading assignments and plans for the upcoming week. After this meeting we were all quite tired and shortly thereafter, we all went home because we had had a long, exhausting and exciting day and had to wake up very early the next morning for 8:00 AM class at UVV.
As the day ended, I knew I was in a special place. The people were so kind and nice and the location and city were so beautiful.