Brazilian Student Association seeks to raise cultural awareness

by Jeanette Giovanniello, Contributor

The Brazilian Student Association at San Diego State is preparing for a semester of representation, connection and awareness.

The organization has been on campus since 2015, according to their chapter’s website, welcoming students of all nationalities to join them at their events and learn about Brazilian culture.

According to the organization’s website, BRASA was originally founded for study abroad students. However, the chapter at SDSU allows all students to attend meetings. Commons points of discussion include Brazil’s current events, political issues and explore their culture, all while speaking Portuguese.

Julia Abegg, President of SDSU’s BRASA chapter, said the goal is to connect Brazilians on campus and show students the different aspects of their nationality.

“We all value our culture more when we are away from home,” Abegg said. ”Our job is to try to reach out to everyone on campus and help them see the beauty of it.”

Their first meeting of the semester had 21 people, and Abegg expects it to grow as the semester carries on. Beyond Brazilian students who are studying abroad, BRASA is meant to be a link for students who speak or want to learn Portuguese as well, according to the chapter’s website. The core value of the organization is unification and using it to raise cultural awareness of Brazil throughout campus. 

Sophomore member Rafaela Martins, who joined last spring, said the meetings are the “highlight of her week.” She said seeing her fellow members and being able to catch up lets her feel like she is at home. 

Martins and other members consider their experience in the United States to be very different than their lifestyle in Brazil.

Julia Borges Bertassoli, another sophomore member of BRASA, believes the contrast lies within the attitudes of the students.

“Going to school here is very different from college at home,” said Bertassoli. “Here there is school spirit, people live so close to campus and everyone is more connected.”

Aside from meetings, the organization holds many public events throughout the year. These events include movie nights featuring classic Brazillian films, a coffee hour sampling some of their traditional dishes and even a demonstration for Capoeira, a Brazilian-born martial art that combines combat with dance and music.

BRASA has a worldwide presence, with more than 7000 members in 90 universities, according to the organization’ website. Abegg said the goal for SDSU’s branch is to go beyond the efforts within campus and reach out across the city.

BRASA holds their meetings every Thursday at 7 p.m in the State Suite.