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Professor Travels Brazil with the Help of a CIE Grant

August 22, 2007

Professor Michelle Grenier (left) with colleagues in Brazil.

Michelle Grenier, assistant professor of kinesiology, traveled to Brazil in July to attend the International Symposium on Adapted Physical Activity held in Rio Clara, thanks to a 2007-08 CIE Faculty International Travel grant funded by the VPAA. Her travel report follows.

Despite its paradoxes, Brazil is a modern country with an interracial blend that creates a complex population and a mosaic of ethnic cultures. Attending the International Symposium on Adapted Physical Activity in Rio Clara this past July was a rewarding experience that enabled me to establish cross-cultural connections with educators from Europe, South America, Australia, and North America.

The day before I was to leave I received notice that a co-presenter from the United States would not be able to attend because of VISA issues. As a result, I invited an individual with cerebral palsy to fill in for my missing colleague with the intention of grounding the theoretical aspects of my presentation with the experiences of a person with a disability.

The choice proved successful on many accounts. Most importantly, it served as a catalyst for future collaborations investigating the construct of inclusion and how its meaning is shaped by cultural expectations and linguistic variations. It also spawned the development of a collaborative, cross-cultural manuscript on the inclusive education.

Yet, listening and participating in the presentations was only a small part of the experience. Traveling the streets of Rio Clara with wheelchair athletes in search of a restaurant was an event unto itself as we navigated the potholed roads and the rampless curbs.

Driver mentality is very different; all things are treated equally irrespective of your mode of transportation. Pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and automobiles all jockeyed for space on the road. These excursions proved an exercise in timing, anticipation and the art of dodging moving vehicles.

Finally, I would like to thank the members of the Center for International Education for providing financial support to attend the conference. Attendance at the conference far exceeded my expectations for collaborations and opportunities for future scholarly engagements.

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