Cameron Maple’s lasting memory of Princeton may not be of Princeton at all, but rather the city of Rio de Janeiro, where he participated in a global seminar the summer after his freshman year. The interdisciplinary seminar, cross-listed with the Program in Latin American Studies, the School of Architecture and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Culture, is offered by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
Every day in Rio began with a run on the promenade that skirts Copacabana beach. Afterward, he and a few other Princeton classmates would grab breakfast in town and then walk to Brazil Pontificia Universidade Católica, the private university where they took classes four days a week.
In the early afternoon, they would take conversational Portuguese, and then they would explore history, cultural and urban topics in a seminar setting with Bruno Carvalho
, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Fridays were reserved for field trips to such places as Sugar Loaf, museums and the colonial town of Paraty.
For Maple, the pleasure of learning in such a unique and novel setting was enhanced by the opportunity to develop a more informal relationship with Carvalho. “We were in his home city of Rio where he grew up,” Maple says. “I really valued having the time to see another side of a professor. We shared dinners with him, lunches and went out on trips, so I thought being able to spend a lot of time with the professor was really incredible.”
He says that, in general, his classroom experiences have been turbocharged whenever these relationships develop. “I find the courses to be the most rewarding when I am able to connect with the professors, because you feel like they truly do value what interests you.”
When Maple was considering his choices for college, he heard a lot about the attention that undergraduates receive at Princeton. Since matriculating, he has learned that the rhetoric matches the reality. “The fact that Princeton is focused on the undergraduate experience – that’s really true,” he says. “All the time and interest that administrators and professor pour into creating an undergraduate experience is special,” he says. “That’s something you don’t find everywhere.”
Maple says he appreciates, too, what he learns every day from the students he meets from every social circumstance whose interests are more diverse than he could have imagined. “A testament to that might be the hundreds of different groups on campus that cater to so many interests,” he says.
Maple is co-president of the Black Men’s Awareness Group, an organization that fosters dialogue, community and brotherhood among black male students at Princeton. He also founded a photography agency called Picture Perfect. The organization includes 17 student photographers who, for a fee, are available to shoot student events and activities. Maple says Picture Perfect has been a way to exercise his longstanding interest in film and photography, but also a vehicle for making his way around the campus.
“As a freshman, you kind of learn what’s around by word of mouth,” he explains. “Through Picture Perfect, I’ve photographed the Orange and Black Ball, Model United Nations and the bonfire. It’s been a really cool way to meet a lot of people, and you learn that something is constantly happening here.”