BRASA at Northwestern waves A Auriverde: Brazilian students host community events, organize mentorship programs


Photo courtesy of Juliana Davoglio Estradioto

BRASA at Northwestern has organized a mentorship program for new Brazilian students.

Sterling Kossuth Ortiz, Senior Staffer

For some international students, attending Northwestern during the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult. 

To travel to campus, McCormick and Communication sophomore Juliana Davoglio Estradioto, an international student from Brazil, had to secure a U.S. visa — even though all the available embassies in Brazil were closed at the time.

Even after arriving on campus, Davoglio Estradioto said they struggled to adjust to living away from their home country. However, they said they were able to find community during this time through BRASA Northwestern, the University’s Brazilian student organization. 

“In Winter 2021, I was isolated on literally the other side of the world from Brazil,” Davoglio Estradioto said. “Having people to talk to and ask questions helped me get close with some people who I consider my family on campus.”

Davoglio Estradioto is one of BRASA’s approximately 30 members. As public relations chair for the organization, Estradioto said she wants to create a healthy and welcoming environment for all Brazilians on campus and shape the next generation of Brazilian leaders. 

Weinberg junior Lucas Bezerra, one of the co-presidents of BRASA, said the organization has helped his personal and professional development despite its recent founding, which occurred in 2016.

“BRASA got me my first internship, working on the administrative side for an organization that is a partner of Teach For All, an educational residency company,” Bezerra said. “BRASA helped me secure my sophomore summer internship at McKinsey, because they matched me up with Kellogg alumni who helped me prepare.”

Communication and Weinberg senior Bruna Rosario, the other co-president, has been on the group’s executive board since her first year. Throughout her time in BRASA, Rosario said she has strived to support new Brazilian students at NU just as older BRASA students did for her.

“When you get into Northwestern, BRASA will most likely automatically reach out by email,” Rosario said. “We’re going to ask you if you want to be part of our WhatsApp group and if you want to be paired up with an upperclassman that is in the same school that you apply to, so that you can ask questions.”

BRASA members said they also appreciate how representative members are of the different areas of Brazil. For instance, Davoglio Estradioto is from Osório, a coastal exurban city in the country’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. Bezerra, meanwhile, comes from Campinas, an independent city in the state of São Paulo. 

Rosario, on the other hand, is from Manaus, located at the mouth of the Amazon River and in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.

Going forward, Davoglio Estradioto said they hope to collaborate with other campus groups such as Alianza and faculty in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

“Our community has been expanding so much over the last two years, so that’s changing our perspective on campus,” Davoglio Estradioto said. “From Lucas’ class to mine, it was such a big jump in the percentage of Brazilians being accepted, so we want to expand our operations in BRASA moving forward.”

Looking back on his time in leadership, Bezerra agreed. He said the group hopes to host a Carnaval do Brasil event in the future, as well as organize programming for Brazilian American and non-Brazilians students alike. 

BRASA hopes to serve as a cohesive organization, bridging together various cultures on campus, Bezerra said. He also wants everyone interested in Brazilian culture to feel comfortable going to BRASA events, he added. 

“(People) could come and try some Brazilian food and listen to Brazilian music with us.” Bezerra said. “We want people to understand how diverse and how big Brazil is. If you’re interested, it’s a great country to learn about.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @SOrtiz2000

Related Stories:

Mostra Film Festival shows film “Pacarette” to Northwestern students

Northwestern researchers determine Brazilian right-wing WhatsApp users are more effective

Evanston Escola de Samba brings Brazilian flair to Fourth of July parade