International spotlight shines on Brazil: Much more than Carnaval and soccer

Anderson Ayres, a junior majoring in economics, has a goal of  teaching others more about his home country, Brazil. 

“There is more to Brazil than Carnaval and soccer," he remarked. "The best carnavals are actually in small towns, and we have a great men’s volleyball team. We are also a very diverse nation, with people from Germany, Japan, Ukraine, Italy, and many other countries influencing the culture.”

Anderson Ayres

Anderson Ayres

Ayres is from Vitoria (“Victory” in Portuguese), Brazil, an island city between two rivers about 300 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. He was raised there with his brother and sister by his parents. Family has been a large part of his life, especially with his father being the youngest of seven. Although he is away from his hometown and family, he is happy to be at St. Thomas.

“I am not the type of person to 'miss' things, but I do miss eating fresh fish. After growing up on an island where fish were frequently caught, I have had some trouble going without it,” he said.

Other aspects of American culture were not very difficult for Ayres to get used to:  “We do many of the same things in Brazil, although we tend to be louder.”

Getting used to the class structure was a bit more challenging: “In Brazil, about 40 students begin in the same classes and stay together for five years until graduation. These classes are program-specific; for example, law students take only law classes. It was at first difficult to adapt to St. Thomas’ style of choosing any class in any field. I also missed the strong bond developed with classmates in Brazil. Now I feel more comfortable.”

He also has grown to enjoy his relationships with professors: “All my professors know me by name and I still talk to past professors frequently. I did not feel the same connection with my professors in Brazil.”

Even though he knew nothing about Minnesota or St. Thomas, Ayres chose to transfer to St. Thomas from his university in Brazil. This decision was greatly influenced by the relationships between faculty and students he had continuously heard about. Ayres would like to advise all prospective international students to come to St. Thomas. 

“You will not regret it. The professor-student relationship is strong and all are interested in learning more about the world, open-minded and very nice,” he said. 

After graduation, Ayres is interested in pursuing a master’s in business administration or a law degree from St. Thomas. He would like to stay and work in the United States, but if this is not possible he will return to Brazil.

Ayres will continue to work toward his goal of teaching others about Brazil at a Brown Bag Discussion from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. today, Friday, Oct. 2, in Murray-Herrick Center, Room 155.

All are invited to bring lunches to the discussion. Brazilian treats will be served.