Six midshipmen, one Brazilian officer, one tiny Chevrolet Spin, and three weeks - these were the main ingredients needed to conduct our priceless cultural immersion adventure, to the most populous country in Latin America, Brazil.
LCDR Carlos Macedo, Brazilian exchange officer at USNA, coordinated and guided Midshipmen 1st Class Emily Saitta, Connor Westrick, Michael Wolfe, Bryce Colceri, Jessica Carrillo and Nikki Peterson on an eye-opening and engaging LREC (Language Proficiency, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness) trip which stopped at three major cities in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Brasilia. This unparalleled experience highlighted the country’s diversity and blend of many cultures.
The LREC began in Rio de Janeiro, a popular tourist center home to the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, but our activities went beyond what a mere tourist sees.
The group spent many days experiencing the breathtaking views of Rio after hiking Dois Irmãos (Twin Brothers) Mountain, taking a cable car to the top of Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) Mountain, exploring the Tijuca Forest National Park, and driving up Mount Corcovado to one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World, Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer).
Another few days were used to tour the Brazilian training ship, training center, a submarine, and a special operations force training center. It was an incredible opportunity to spend time interacting with their commanding officers and crews.
After a week and a half in Rio the adventure continued on to Salvador and Brasilia. A memorable day trip in Salvador was at the Base Naval de Aratu where we toured the shipyard and explored a minesweeper. While in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, our group discovered the modern architecture of Oscar Niemeyer while visiting the Brazilian National Congress Building, the Palácio do Planalto (Presidential office), and the United States Embassy. While at the embassy we were privileged to meet U.S. Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, the Naval Attache, and other USNA graduates working at the embassy.
Immersing ourselves in Brazilian culture helped open our minds to the importance of learning about what ties a group of people together and experiencing the essence of another country. We will now be able to better identify with the lifestyles and communities that exist across the globe, a skill that will serve us well as a Naval or Marine Corps officer.