Eric Fischer '14: Brazil
“To capture my experience in Brazil with only a few short lines is a disservice to how informative my experience was to my life today. However, one particular anecdote is pretty helpful in describing my experience. While spending the summer of 2013 living in Salvador, Brazil, the capital city in the Brazilian state of Bahia, I was lucky enough to befriend a fellow competitive swimmer, and because of that, I could attend the Campeonato Bahiano, or the Bahian State swimming championships. At this meet, I had the opportunity to sit down with my friend and discuss how swimming had impacted his life, as it had always played such a large role in mine. In this conversation, conducted almost entirely in Portuguese, I began to notice the role that sport could play in educating people and building communities. I noticed this primarily because of the way he discussed his experience of swimming in Brazil and how much different it was than my own. He said a lack of public pools made the cost of swimming about 170 Reals (roughly 85 US Dollars) per month, and there were no university-organized sports whatsoever.
Luckily, my friend’s swim coach gave him the opportunity to swim free of charge. While my friend admitted he was lucky, and that swimming had educated him with invaluable and employable skills, he wished he, and others like him, had easier access to sports because of the way it had educated him and limited his chances of a life in poverty. This conversation made me realize that I had often taken the access to those skills given by sports for granted, and it made me wonder why people in Brazil, such as my friend, did not have the same ease in accessing these skills. This inspired me to investigate if sports-based NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) could effectively reduce poverty, as my friend suggested, by providing access to sports centered education.”