The Bridge Year program in Brazil exposes participants to the complexities of a large and diverse society grappling with the impact of rapid growth and economic development. The destruction of the natural environment, preservation of cultural heritage and maintenance of agricultural sovereignty are among the many pressing social issues that students explore. Bridge Year participants are based in Salvador, the bustling capital of Bahia and one of the most historic cities in Brazil. Through group service projects and excursions, students also explore rural Bahia, a stark contrast to city life. Bridge Year volunteers work with local organizations engaged in a wide array of initiatives, including community-building, permaculture, environmental restoration, professional training, advocacy, the arts, and education. Over the course of the program, Bridge Year participants deepen their understanding of Bahian culture and develop skills to communicate effectively with others, while exploring some of Brazil’s most inspiring landscapes and unique communities.
Program Location: Participants live and work in Salvador, a large city located in the state of Bahia on the northeastern coast of Brazil. While Salvador may be home to more than three million people, its universities and neighborhoods are nestled into a tropical and vibrantly green natural environment. Bahia is an incredibly biodiverse state, home to nearly every type of microclimate that exists in Brazil from the arid sertão to the humid Mata Atlantica forests on the cacao coast. The program is based in the community of Candeal, a neighborhood famous in Salvador as the home of one of its most successful and internationally acclaimed musicians, Carlinhos Brown. His work in developing a music school—among other civic-minded initiatives—has helped transform what was once considered a low-income community into a thriving neighborhood.
Local Languages: As part of the Bridge Year, students take intensive Portuguese classes in order to gain the necessary communicative competency to engage in community-based service work. Students also participate in language exchanges with students from the Catholic University of Salvador’s (UCSAL) social work program.
Program Partner: In Brazil, Princeton University is partnering with Where There Be Dragons, an organization specializing in overseas experiential education. Since their founding in 1993, Dragons has managed hundreds of unique small-group service learning programs in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Dragons is dedicated to inspiring youth leadership and responsible global citizenship through community-based service projects and cultural exchange.
Service Opportunities: Dragons partners with a number of non-governmental organizations working to address some of the region’s most pressing social and environmental issues. Participants have the opportunity to get involved in a variety of activities that support a wide range of programs and projects. Some of these activities include working with small children, teaching English, art and other subjects, installing community gardens, organizing community events and workshops, assisting co-ops and small businesses, translation, research, documentation, and office administration.