The Bridge Year program in Brazil exposes participants to a variety of social and economic concerns facing underserved segments of the population in this diverse and rapidly growing nation. Students are based in the large and bustling city of Salvador where they work at service projects supporting at risk groups, including children, the elderly, and those affected by HIV/AIDS. Participants live with homestay families, study Portuguese and engage in enrichment activities that provide broader context for their service work. Along the way, Bridge Year participants uncover the complex political, economic and social forces that make Brazil one of the most captivating and increasingly influential nations in the world.
Program Location: Participants live and work in the city of Salvador, located on the Atlantic coast of the northeastern state of Bahia. A prominent seaport of the former Portuguese Empire, Salvador served as Brazil’s colonial capital until 1763. Due to the city’s role in the sugar industry and trans-Atlantic slave trade, a strong African influence is evident in nearly every aspect of local culture, including the food, music and religion. Salvador’s long and complex history comes to life in its modern day culture, which is known throughout Brazil and the world for its vivacious spirit and distinctive energy.
Local Language: Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. Bridge Year students take intensive Portuguese classes in order to gain the necessary communicative competency to engage in community-based service work.
Program Partner: In Brazil, Princeton University is partnering with Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS). Established in 1995, CCS has provided over 30,000 volunteers with impactful service learning opportunities throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. CCS partners with local organizations to ensure that each volunteer assignment meets an expressed need and has a tangible impact in the community. CCS also has a long history of providing unique cultural immersion activities for a deep level of authentic engagement in the community.
Service Opportunities: Salvador is home to enormous wealth and a thriving economy as well as tremendous poverty centered in favelas where local residents often lack basic services. For over ten years, CCS has partnered with local organizations providing programs and services to residents of underserved communities with a special focus on vulnerable constituents like children, the elderly, and those affected by HIV/AIDS. Bridge Year participants may teach English to children and adults, organize recreational and educational activities for preschoolers, provide company to elderly people and assist their caretakers, or support the social, emotional, and practical needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. More generally, volunteers help build self-esteem, play the part of role models, introduce community members to a different culture and perspective, and provide attention and support to those who might otherwise be without it.