Elon International Studies: Brazil



Meet the Crew

Life in a Favela

Adventures in the

Black, White, and in
Between: Diversity
in Brazil


Biodiversity in the Amazon

Samba School

Favela Tour Opens Students' Eyes

Quality of Life
in Brazil

A Country that Runs
on Alcohol

Racial Inequality in

Ancient Indian
Remedy, New
Western Craze

Maracana Stadium

The Amazon


A Dish With Many Tastes

The Music and Dance
of Brazil as seen in
the Samba Schools

without Language

Fixing the
Race Problem

If an Entire Species is
Destroyed Before its
Discovered, Did it
Ever Exist?

The Beauty of Buzios

Salvador's Afro-
Brazilian Culture

Health Care and
Concerns in Brazil


Cristo Redentor

GST 243 Homepage

2004 Archives

Quality of Life in Brazil

Scott Christenbury


        If I took one thing from Brazil it was the idea of wealth. When the term wealth is used in our society it is almost always in reference to a person's financial standing. In the United States we too often over look quality of life and focus on how much money a person has in comparison to others. After spending only 23 days in this magical country I realize that there is so much more to wealth than money.

        The most striking observance of the ‘no worries' philosophy, which is plastered on t-shirts all over Brazil , is the favalas. To people who have seen the film City of God , the favalas might seem to be a hard, rough, drug infested area. On the contrary, the observer that has been there and has seen first hand the life that they live can see that the inhabitants are happy and always have smiles on their faces. Keep in mind that these people are extremely poor, with almost no income, but these people seem to still have no worries. Whether it's attending their favorite samba school, or playing soccer at a local field, when the day is done they do not care if their house isn't the biggest or if their car isn't the flashiest on the block.

        The samba is a great example of Brazilans quest to have a high quality of life. A samba school is similar to a team, and all the different schools compete in February at the Carnival. The Carnival is like Mardi Gras, but much, much bigger. The one samba school that our group visited was Mangueria samba school. Mangueria is one of the best samba schools in Rio . The scene of the samba school is something like a huge party in the United States with an elevated stage and people playing tambourines and drums. None of the music is recorded, it's all played live, and crowds of thousands sing and dance in unison to it. While I partook in this samba school I tired to imagine if such an institution could ever exist in the US . The answer is no. Our society doesn't let us let lose and enjoy life with friends until five o'clock in the morning.

        Another very prevalent example of quality of life in Brazil is in the Amazon. I personally believe the Amazon is one of the best examples of people with a great outlook on the world. During our stay in the Amazon we came in contact with several different types of people, one of which was cabolacs. Cabolacs are people with both Portuguese and Indian blood. Both villages we visited seemed to be thriving with happy people, one village seemed to be entirely self-sufficient on their own land. They would trade goods with other villages that produced other products that they did not produce. They have good friends, food, shelter, and that is all they need in order to live happy lives.

        One of the best experiences that I had was playing soccer with the locals at one of the villages that we visited. Soccer is the most popular sport in Brazil and every village might not have a school or a hospital, but they most certainly have a soccer field. The village that we played soccer at had won the local tournament between villages the past four years and the prize each year is a cow. In the U.S. many people play sports for money, or bet on sports for money, but these people just play the game for the sake of the game and enjoy every minute.

        The one last example of how Brazilians have a high quality of life is the beaches. In Rio on every Sunday the main road that runs next to the beach shuts down for pedestrians to walk or ride a bike at their leisure. Imagine a road shutting down in the United States for the people to go to the beach and hang out. Every day of the week that the sun is out you can find the beaches packed with local people in the sun taking it easy.