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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Burgers and Brats: Concession Stand Memories

Although grilling as we know it today developed in the 1950s, one can argue that Notre Dame has earned a privileged place in the art of concession stand operation. Students and faculty have been selling game day grub and gear for as long as crowds have craved hot dogs and hamburgers, a symbiotic relationship based on the fantastic football weekends that have made the University famous.

Last weekend, I helped manage the Militia of the Immaculata’s concession stand before the game against the University of North Carolina. MI is the campus chapter of a global group founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1917 and is committed to spreading Marian devotion. All proceeds would go to our keynote speaker fund, which we hope will bring Dr. Scott Hahn, a famous Catholic theologian, to ND.

Having four years of concession experience under my belt, I recognized the amount of preparation required for maintaining a successful stand. I was, however, fortunate enough to have the assistance of two up-and-coming MI underclassmen to help me with the necessary arrangements: Brian Buechler, a sophomore mechanical engineer, and Rose Anderson, a sophomore history and theology major.

Three weeks before the game, we composed an SAOnline request form for our concession stand. SAOnline is the electronic program ND uses to organize campus events. We also had to attend a Concession Stand Training Session, an hour-long course on food safety, security, and sales strategies. The following week, I submitted a cash advance form and called Catering... By Design for our food order. MI purchased the default order (which probably seems like an astonishing amount):

  • 6 cases of hamburgers (240 total)
  • 1 case of hot Dogs (100 total)
  • 5 cases of brats (250 total)
  • 20 dozen hamburger buns
  • 30 dozen hot dog buns
  • 4 bags of ice
Like all concession stand managers across campus, I spent the five days before the UNC game with frequent bouts of doubts. Would they lose our meat order? Will it rain on game day? Would we have enough workers? Did I remember to order buns!?

Recalling my innocent sophomore self, I chuckled about the time I had forgotten to order buns for a concession stand, an unfortunate stumble in judgement that obliged me to purchase more expensive ones from Meijer. There also seems to be an inverse relationship between the rise of poor weather and the purchasing power of potential customers since people are reluctant to consume wet brats and soggy burgers. 
Luckily for me, the crisp Saturday morning proved to be a perfect day for selling food and drinks. Besides the challenge of keeping the charcoals lit, operations went smoothly. 
“At first we struggled with grilling and keeping up with the demand for food, but we learned quickly and nearly sold out by the end of the day,” Brian said.
Rose enjoyed being able to participate in football weekend festivities from a different perspective. She believes that the concession stand helped club members get to know one another as well as fans from both teams. “Although we were just cooking burgers, brats, and hot dogs, we were also helping the families who came to campus have an enjoyable game day experience and get excited for the game itself.”

In a way, the conclusion of my tenure as a concession stand manager at ND is a bit bittersweet. I’ll miss the deadlines, high-pressure situations, and the satisfied smirk of a customer biting into his long awaited burger. I will certainly feel a bit nostalgic for the general fatigue produced by working for about six hours with the only solace being an Irish victory and raising funds for a good cause.
“The MI concession stand was a great opportunity to interact with students, alumni, and visitors — even those rooting for the opposing team,” Nicole O’Leary, a freshman theology and history major, said. “It transformed game day into an opportunity to work for something even more important than football, and consequently, my experience later that day at the game was more rewarding and enjoyable because of the work that I had done in the morning.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nanovic Symposium explores civic engagement

In the aftermath of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s controversial decision to postpone Ukraine’s admittance into the European Union in favor of a bilateral treaty with Russia, students from the Ukrainian Catholic University took to the streets of Lviv in solidarity with the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kiev, calling for an end to political corruption and human rights abuses. Professors and staff members would also join the protests, many of which escalated from peaceful marches to violent riots due to police aggression. UCU publicly declared its stance of civil disobedience against the Yanukovych administration last December yet remained faithful to its commitment for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“Civic education aims at enabling one’s capacity to see and to respond to values,” Volodymyr Turchynovskyy, Director of the International Institute for Ethics and Contemporary Issues at UCU, said. “In the specifically Ukrainian situation one of the best indicators is the ability of the graduates to resist and combat the widespread corruption.”

Turchynovskyy offered his insights at the “Sources of the Civic” Symposium in Rome on Sept. 26-27. The gathering of academics and administrators from various Catholic Universities in Europe was organized by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies. Participants explored the philosophical foundation of civic education as well as the economic, social, legal, and cultural dimensions of student life.

The symposium is an annual event for the Catholic Universities Partnership (CUP), a Nanovic program which unites Notre Dame to eight European institutions in the spirit of collaboration and fruitful dialogue.

Regarding the importance of CUP to ND’s mission, Anthony Monta, Associate Director of the Nanovic Institute, alluded to Fr. Edward Sorin’s international vision for the University and Fr. Theodore Hesburgh’s participation in the civil rights marches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Notre Dame has been involved in civic engagement since its beginning.”

Speakers delivered lectures on the metaphysical aspects of civic engagement such as intrinsic human dignity and the challenges faced by religious-based education. As a panelist during the symposium, Turchynovskyy argues that the pursuit of academic excellence should not be undertaken for its own sake.  “It’s by respecting what is worthy of respect, by loving what is truly lovable, by searching the truth and serving others in their effort to fulfill their vocation that the mystery of education and formation takes place.”

The Nanovic Institute reports that “in recent years, the topic of civic education has received considerable attention from transnational institutions in Europe, such as the Council of Europe [CoE]” in the wake of the “average citizen’s loss of interest in politics, lack of knowledge about democratic processes, and declining engagement in the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“I believe this is the first time Catholic universities in Europe have addressed this issue in a concerted way,” Monta said. “It’s the beginning of what we hope will be a long conversation about the role of Catholic universities in the fate of democracy in Europe.”

Within its 2010 charter on democratic citizenship and human rights education, the CoE considered “empowering [students] with the readiness to take action in society in the defence and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law” as a fundamental goal for member states. Jean-Christophe Bas, Director General of Democratic Citizenship and Participation, represented the CoE at the symposium.

The symposium aimed to elaborate on the special charism of Catholic institutions of higher education in providing a holistic formation concerning moral responsibility and meaningful political participation. “[The middle ground of activity] is where citizens, who may disagree on hot-button issues, can nevertheless get together to work for some tangible common good,” Monta said. “Catholic universities are in a great position to help nourish the motives that propel young people toward taking part in the life and direction of their communities this way.”

Turchynovskyy believes that the Church should be a voice in defense of dignity, justice, and transparency. He notes that UCU priests ministered to the activists during the recent unrest in Ukraine, offering spiritual consolation for the wounded and protecting people from the riot police.
“A Catholic university should resist this sliding towards demonization of dissent and promote social solidarity across the various kinds of divisions,” Turchynovskyy said. “On the other hand, a Catholic university should stand firm in urging social reforms and coping with the problems that led to the turmoil.”

A panel of policymakers and scholars concluded the symposium and reflected upon the future of European democracy.

“When we put ourselves into conversation with other Catholics in different parts of the world who face similar temptations, we constantly find ourselves strengthened in mind and heart,” Monta said. “And as much as they learn from us, we certainly learn from, and are even inspired by, them.”

Photo Credit: Xavier Häpe

Friday, October 3, 2014

Shumona Sinha and the Politics of Language and Literature

Garbed in a vibrant splash of yellow, she spoke with measured enthusiasm, a flame burning with a steady blaze. She chuckles at her command of English, although the bright smile she flashes to the audience betrays a certain cosmopolitan confidence. As a French writer born in India, Shumona Sinha is a balmy blend of both the West and the East, a polyglot whose linguistic capabilities give her international appeal as well as cultural ambiguity. “As you can see my French is not that American and my English is not that French.”

Sinha delivered a lecture sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies to a gathering of students at the University of Notre Dame regarding the convergence of literature and activism and the accompanying challenges of representing impoverished immigrants. The lecture marked her first official visit to the United States. Considered to be a rising author, Sinha has produced several poetic anthologies and two novels: Assommons les pauvres ! (2011) and Calcutta (2014), the first of which merited her the Prix Valery-Larbaud and the Prix Populiste. Her presentation also addressed her time as a government interpreter and her own migrant experience.

Sinha reflected upon her eclectic upbringing in Calcutta under the influence of her father, a Marxist economics professor. Inspired by the likes of Gabriel García Márquez and Rabindranath Tagore, she was an avid reader, spending her time between enjoying translated editions of Russian fairy tales and perusing Red political publications. Unlike most 14 year old girls, Sinha was a member of the local Communist party. She claims that she was treated like “a bonsai” in the organization and pruned of any ideas deemed unfit for a young leftist, a formative period which awakened her budding sense of independence and ultimately drove her away from activist politics. Although she praised Arundhati Roy, the celebrated writer of The God of Small Things, and her direct involvement with social issues in India, Sinha is satisfied nowadays with merely voting, signing petitions, and attending the occasional protest.

“My work is with words,” Sinha said. “The proof is that we are talking here and not in the streets.”

Her passion for the French language led her to move to Paris and pursue literary studies at the Sorbonne in 2001. “I lived in another world when I was young,” Sinha explained in a discussion with students. “French was the language of freedom for me.”

Sinha spoke to students taking a course on minorities in film and literature.
Photo Credit: Alison Rice 
Sinha emphasizes the importance of mindful communication and elaborated on the relationship between language and truth. Her fictional novel, Assommons les pauvres !, recounts the internal conflict endured by an interpreter who attempts to remain neutral to the lies of her immigrant clients and to the political system which forces them to do so. Sinha’s work is as much autobiographical as it is an exposé on the difficulties which ensnare newcomers to France. She herself served as an interpreter for l’Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA), a government agency dedicated to serving immigrants and granting them political asylum. “My job was to translate truthfully and objectively.”

In Assommons les pauvres !, Sinha describes how individuals often manipulate the truth in order to receive refugee status. After its publication, the novel was acclaimed even by the Academie Française for its unabashed willingness to depict the poverty and social constraints placed upon immigrants, factors which prevent many from successfully integrating into French society. Sinha was subsequently dismissed from her post at OFPRA for perceived slights against the bureau supposedly contained in the book.

“Let me be frank: I got fired because [my superiors] were not very intelligent,” Sinha said, clarifying how her book makes no mention of OFPRA and is more of a criticism of the overall political system than it is a condemnation of a specific agency. She admits that she had a “very elitist attitude” towards those who came to the office for assistance only to lie about their needs. “I was so ashamed of my own people. Why are they debasing themselves?”

Sinha condemns the use of falsehoods to obtain benefits and maintains a strong stance against the utilitarianism which animates migratory politics. “There are some values that you don’t forget.” She draws attention to the “parasitic” economy present in Europe consisting of an underground industry of fake passports, identification cards, and even life stories, a black market fueled by rampant illegal immigration.

“What is shocking to me is that the government is pushing people to lie,” Sinha said. “This whole system is based on lies.”

Complicated citizenship requirements compel many undocumented people to compose fanciful stories for the sake of being received into France as victims of political or religious persecution. The country’s interior ministry reports that there are about 300,000 to 400,000 illegal immigrants in the population. Conservative movements in France such as the far-right Front National party maintain negative views concerning Muslim immigration from Africa and the Middle East and call for economic protectionism in the face of a potential loss of jobs for native citizens. Sinha alleges that increasing interest in the Front National can be attributed to the division of society into two camps: progressives who desire to preserve France’s generous image as a refuge for everyone and traditionalists with a “clear-cut fear” of foreigners, rendering “the immigrant” as a scapegoat in global issues. “Racism is getting more and more aggressive today in France because of the economic crisis.”

Sinha believes that contemporary authors are free from the obligation to spark political change through their works but that the medium of language does not offer them the luxury of remaining absolutely objective.

“Any translation is a cultural translation,” Sinha said. “There is no one word that can be neutral.”

As featured on Elite Millennial, 23 September 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Life by the Lasso: Teen Competes in Brazilian Rodeos

During a particularly crisp morning, the rustic aroma of sizzling beef wafts across the grounds of the Parque de Eventos Isaqui Miranda de Bocaina do Sul. An elderly woman mixes a bowl of potato salad whilst her husband rides across the field on horseback. A freshly brewed cup of chimarrão is passed around, a gesture of welcome to recently arrived guests. The 2nd Torneio de Laço, a rodeo organized by CTG Fronteira Bocainense do Birique, has just begun, drawing participants from around the area to the rugged town of Bocaina do Sul.

Whilst the rest of his family prepares the campsite, Marcus Melo and his cousin Vinicius Silveira take turns training around a wooden calf, a practice dummy for the upcoming tournament events. Melo twirls the coiled rope and flicks his wrist, throwing the lasso around the vaca parada (“standing cow”). At only 14 years old, Melo has already participated in more than 100 rodeos and has earned two first place trophies. His passion for laçar (the act of lassoing) places him in the footsteps of a long line of gaúchos, the original settlers of the southern plains of Brazil. “My father used to lasso and I want to continue his tradition.”

A conservative sentiment permeates gaúcho culture, encouraging families to promote traditions amongst younger generations. The desire for historical authenticity inspired several clans to form the Movimento Tradicionalista Catarinense (“Traditionalist Catarinense Movement”) in 1973. According to MTG-SC, it “has the objective of uniting the Centros de Tradições Gaúchas (“Centers of Gaúcho Traditions”) … and to preserve the nucleus of formation and philosophy of the Traditionalist Movement.” The organization offers cultural events and supports literature related to ranch life in order to spread awareness about the gaúcho legacy. MTG-SC divides the state of Santa Catarina into 17 traditionalist regions under the direction of Regional Coordinators.
Santa Catarina offers a varied landscape with beaches and resort towns in the east and mountains and forests in the southwest. / Photo Credit: Darlan P. de Campos
While the title “gaúcho” is shared by several South American countries, the demonym entails a distinct cultural blend in southern Brazil. MTG-SC poetically defines the term as “not signifying only a citizen of Rio Grande do Sul, but also the countryman of the meridional Regions of South America, who takes upon himself the gaúcho fatherland, the origin of his Tradition to the land, which begins in the pampas of Argentina and extends to Uruguay, Rio Grande do Sul, and Santa Catarina.” Rodeos are popular sporting events amongst gaúchos in the towns scattered across the alpine Serrana Region of Santa Catarina. In comparison to well-known cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the communities in the Serrana Region are more rural; unpaved roads, shorter fences, and horse-drawn wagons are common sights. The waves of Portuguese, German, and Italian pioneers who established ranches in the area gave the state a decidedly Old World flavor. Many catarinenses are able to claim European heritage, preserving the customs and cuisines of their forefathers.

Many cities celebrate the European colonization of local areas with statues dedicated to the memory of early settlers. 
Having participated in rodeos herself, Simone, Melo’s mother, enjoys supporting her son’s appreciation for gaúcho culture. According to her, rodeos help young people avoid drugs and violence by keeping their minds occupied. “Rodeos are our culture,” Simone said. “There’s no explanation.”

Rodeo participants belong to piquetes, small groups affiliated with Centros de Tradições Gaúchas, non-profit governing bodies maintaining gaúcho culture and folklore. Riding for Piquete Entrevero Serrano, Melo and his family belong to CTG Rodeio de São Sebastião, which consists of local families within the city and region of Palmeira. Melo explains that his uncle Fabrício Silveira introduced him to rodeos, inspiring him to learn how to ride horses at his grandfather’s ranch. “Riding horseback is easy, but riding horseback and lassoing is difficult,” Melo said. “You need a lot of concentration and strength.” Along with three cousins, an uncle, and his grandfather, Melo follows a training schedule before weekend tournaments.

Each rodeo offers different levels of competition for various age groups. While Melo and his cousins play in the adolescent guri category, older members of the CTG compete as veterans. During the Laço Patrão de Piquete, leaders of the different piquetes are pitted against each other, matches which showcase the most skilled players. Successful riders move on to the final round of the Braço de Ouro. Rodeos also organize doubles, triples, and quadruple categories as well as matches between the seleções of neighboring cities, teams which feature the ten best riders of the municipality.

While Melo and his piquete where two points shy of qualifying for the next round of matches, he still believes the rodeo was worth the drive from Palmeira. “Some of my friends live in other cities and so I can see them only at rodeos,” Melo said. “I made new friends and we lassoed well.”

Gaúcho Vocabulary

cavalgar = to ride a horse
um açude = a man-made fishing hole
uma taipa = a low rock wall lining many southern ranches
alfafa = hay
um rancho = a woodshed
um guri = a boy ; used in southern Brazil as “dude”
tchê = “dude”
Sã senhora ãmê do céu = “Our Lady in heaven, man!” ; exclamation used to express surprise

As featured on Elite Millennial, 31 July 2014
*Top Photo Credit: Marcus Melo

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gaúcho Tea: The Popularity of Chimarrão in Brazil

At first glance, the rural community of Palmeira is reminiscent of a small Midwestern town complete with dusty roads and gardens. Lazy mornings are spent on the front porch, where passersby are greeted by name and with a smile. Set against the backdrop of a setting sun, the rising smoke from neighboring homes and the braying of horses in the distance bring to mind a simpler time, an idyllic setting for ranchers and cowboys alike.

Palmeira, like many small cities in the mountainous region of Santa Catarina, demonstrates the cultural and geographic diversity which has made Brazil unforgettable. Yet the only image of surf, sand, and samba one can see in Palmeira are the characteristic palm trees which give the city its name. The cold climate offers a rather frigid awakening for those who believe that the country is home to only tropical temperatures. The sturdy palmeirenses, however, have three weapons against the wintry weather: multiple sweaters, wood stoves, and the legendary cups of chimarrão, which have warmed generations of gaúchos, the settlers who established ranches and rodeos in the southernmost stretches of the Brazilian landscape.

Huddled around a wood stove, Matheus Melo boils a kettle of water and prepares the chimarrão. Melo is a second-year medical student at the University of Planalto Catarinense and has earned a reputation for being an enthusiast of the brewed beverage. He chuckles at the difficult notion of recalling his first sip of chimarrão, ingrained as it is in gaúcho culture. “Do you remember when you drank water for the first time?”

Chimarrão is made by pouring hot water onto erva-mate, the plant which gives the tea its distinctive flavor. Unlike most teas, however, chimarrão is served using a bomba and a cuia. Made from silver or stainless steel, bombas are straws fitted with filters that prevent the brewed liquid and herbs from mixing. The cuia is a hollow calabash gourd often featuring traditional carvings and designs.
Brazilian writer and politician Luiz Antonio de Assis Brasil demonstrates how to brew chimarrão.
Photo Credit: Rita Escobar
The tradition of drinking chimarrão has become an art form for the residents of southern Brazil. Coupled with an alternating blend of cool and hot water, the proper placement of the herbs in the cuia ensures that the resulting tea is flavorful and goes down smoothly.

Recognized as “mate” or “cimarrón” depending on the region, chimarrão is enjoyed in various South American countries like Argentina and Uruguay. The traditional erva-mate used in the drink was first gathered by the Guaraní and Tupí tribes in southern Brazil and Paraguay. Spanish and Portuguese settlers popularized the indigenous tea as a refreshing infusion of caffeine. With a legacy for being large consumers of chimarrão, Brazil and Argentina cultivate the most erva-mate whilst Syria imports the most erva-mate per year.

The Brazilian love affair with chimarrão manifests itself in the Parque Histórico do Mate, a branch of the Museu Paranaense funded by the state of Paraná. Visitors to the state park learn about the history of the production and transportation of erva-mate, which at one point represented 85 percent of the local economy.
Erva-mate is derived from the holly family and is technically not "tea" in the strictest sense.
Photo Credit: Lucash
Being a rich source of vitamins A, C, and E, chimarrão provides a variety of health benefits commonly associated with teas containing significant levels of antioxidants. Green tea may be losing the battle of beverages when it comes to producing the most medicinal effects. “Polyphenolic compounds found in Mate tea differ significantly from green tea because Mate tea contains [a] high concentration of chlorogenic acid and no catechins,” Dr. Elvira de Mejia, a food science expert from the University of Illinois, said in a comparative study conducted with chimarrão. Chlorogenic acid is an anti-carcinogen that promotes cardiovascular health.

“Chimarrão is popular because it is a hot and energetic drink and is traditional here in the south,” Lissandra Momm, a junior chemical engineer at the Federal University of Santa Maria, said. “We continue to drink chimarrão because it is a good beverage in the winter or summer and because it is also a group activity.”

The importance of chimarrão to the gaúcho culture in Brazil, however, certainly outweighs its purported health properties. “Generally a group of people join together in a roda de chimarrão to converse and to share the drink which is placed in a cuia shared by everyone” Momm said. The communal nature of the drink encourages a sense of unity and inclusion since the cuia is offered to both family members and strangers.

Expecting to study abroad in France next year, Melo has already made plans to purchase several bags of erva-mate in order to brew chimarrão in Europe. “Chimarrão makes me feel like I’m from the South and not from another region of Brazil,” Melo said. “It gives me a southern identity.”

As featured on Elite Millennial, 29 July 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Religious Groups ‘Play in Favor of Life’ at World Cup

While the buzz of city life continued around them, a solemn procession of individuals strode across the streets of downtown Brasília. The “Play in Favor of Life – Denounce Human Trafficking” March took place on the eve of the opening game of the World Cup to raise awareness about the risk of exploitation during mega-events. Bathed in the patriotic glow of yellow and green colored lights, the Esplanada dos Ministérios, the political promenade running through the heart of Brazil’s capital, provided a sharp contrast to the white flags of the demonstration, which consisted of many local youth, priests, and consecrated religious.

In conjunction with the Conference of Brazilian Religious and Rede Um Grito Pela Vida, the Archdiocese of Brasília has sponsored a series of events to provide information about and opportunities to combat sexual slavery and forced labor. A delegation of Germans, including actress Eva Habermann, from Bischöfliche Aktion Adveniat, an organization aiming to support Catholic initiatives in Latin America, also participated in the march.

Participants received informational materials regarding human trafficking statistics in Brazil and around the world. Many carried flowers and banners in support of victims of exploitation.

The United Nations Refugee Agency reports that the Brazilian government is spending $2.9 million to implement a national anti-trafficking plan, which creates 10 new offices staffed by 400 officials. Identifying migrant workers and indigenous people as vulnerable groups, the International Labour Organization estimates that 4.5 million people are victims of sexual exploitation and 21 million people engage in forced labor.

While the World Cup promises to benefit local economies due to the influx of tourists, the games also involve an increase in the risk of human trafficking, a phenomenon observed by Rede Um Grito Pela Vida in the last two host countries, Germany and South Africa.

In its widely-distributed pamphlet, “Copa do Mundo: Dignidade e Paz,” the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil criticized the national government’s removal of families and communities from their homes and its allocation of public funds to stadium construction, monies which could have been used for health, education, and basic sanitation. The 2014 World Cup has been ranked as the most expensive to date, with Brazil spending $14-16 billion on costs associated with the global competition.

According to the Bishops, the success of the World Cup “will be in the guarantee of security for all without the use of violence, in respect to the right to peaceful protests in the streets, the creation of mechanisms which prevent slave labor, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation, above all, of socially vulnerable persons and efficiently combat racism and violence.”

The march concluded with a prayer service on the lawn of the Congresso Nacional. Sr. Rosa Maria Martins, MSCS, a coordinator of the march and a journalist for the Conference of Brazilian Religious, praised in a press release the grassroots efforts of local religious in condemning human trafficking. “CRB National welcomes all Brazilians, partner institutions, Christian denominations, Aktion Adveniat, and all those who play in favor of life and denounce all forms of the violation of the rights and dignity of the human being, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”

For more information:

Photo Credit: Karin Miranda

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Habit of Service: A Sister volunteers at the World Cup

Sr. Melanie has prepared herself to welcome tourists to Brasília.
With an estimated 3 million people expected to attend the World Cup games in Brazil, FIFA and major cities have recruited hundreds of local volunteers to assist international fans in the upcoming weeks. Sr. Melanie Grace D. Illana, a Missionary Sister of St. Charles Borromeo, will be among the multitude of individuals prepared to welcome the world to Brasília. Brazil’s capital city is set to be the site of seven matches at its new Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, a stadium which has taken three years to construct.

Having been inspired by her community service in the United States, Sr. Melanie decided to become a World Cup volunteer, a position enabling her to greet travelers with her warm smile and the characteristic cadence of her Filipino accent. In an interview with Elite Millenial, Sr. Melanie provided some insights into the World Cup and the formation process of becoming a volunteer.

1. What influenced you to serve as a volunteer at the World Cup?

It is the voluntary work experience with people regardless of races, cultures, and religions that influenced me to serve as a volunteer at the World Cup.

2. What sort of preparation do you have to undertake as a World Cup volunteer?

First, the Virtual Training Course for five weeks to test my knowledge about the History of Football in Brazil, the Environment of the 12 states of Brazil, Hospitality & Tourism, especially in Brasília, and the First Aid and Security. Second, the Presence Training with speakers and facilitators and with volunteers done in the Convention Center and in the University of Brasília, where we actualized all the modules we learned from our virtual training course.

3. Do you feel Brazil is economically, linguistically, and socially prepared to host the World Cup?

Yes. I feel that Brazil is economically prepared to host the World Cup through the help of FIFA. The Brazilian governments are not the ones funding the World Cup but FIFA itself. I believe that it is linguistically prepared considering that most of the World Cup volunteers, who will do the best to assist the tourists, and the Media, speak English, or Spanish, or French. In fact, there are selected public transportation drivers in 12 states who took English and Spanish courses this year to prepare themselves to assist the tourists during [the] World Cup. As what I observed, Brazil is always socially prepared to host any mega events like [the] World Cup and is open to [welcoming] the foreigners.

4. What can international fans expect to see and do once they arrive in Brasília? Are there any special events and accommodations being organized for them?

Aside from seeing the football games at the World Cup, the international fans [can] expect to see the tourist spots of the 12 states; it depends on which states they prefer to stay. Some organizations or group networks linked to the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Culture, and some Universities are organizing special events for the international fans.

5. As a Scalabrinian Missionary Sister, how do you live out your religious vocation in light of your World Cup volunteer work?

I live out my religious vocation through the charism of our Congregation, which is “evangelical service to the migrants and refugees.” My constant desire to actualize the Scalabrinian charism through voluntary services, especially for the people of different colors, languages, and religions, is a form of selfless love. This is what I am hoping for my World Cup voluntary work.

6. You recently attended a Workshop hosted by the Secretaria de Justiça regarding human trafficking. What programs or initiatives has FIFA put into practice to combat exploitation?

There are no programs that FIFA made to combat exploitation. However, they encouraged FIFA and Brasil Voluntário volunteers and all the Teams working with FIFA to be attentive to any signs of human trafficking and sexual exploitation and to contact the respective numbers of the Federal Police and local government sectors responsible for confronting the delicate issues. Thus, combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation is part of our Hospitality and Tourism Module in the Virtual Training Course.

7. What has been the most difficult part about preparing for volunteer work?

The allotted time for the Virtual Training was the most difficult. I needed to organize my time in the evening between 8 and 10 p.m. or between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. to do the course. A volunteer needs to spend 2 or 5 hours a day to read the long texts in four modules with knowledge tests and thematic forums. We were given only 5 weeks to complete all the four modules, including English and Spanish communications skills tests, the 80 second video presentation in English, and the seven long questionnaires to answer. The hours that a volunteer spent in the Virtual Training Course is recorded each day or night online.

8. Have you learned anything interesting/funny/shocking about the World Cup during training sessions?

I learned to be patient in accepting the reality that lack of communication from the coordinators of Brasil Voluntário during our presence training courses gave confusions [sic] to most of the volunteers especially in my group. I also learned to let go of my first voluntary working area which [was supposed to] be in the airport. Above all, I learned to be open [to] other possibilities in my voluntary services.

9. There is already talk of protests scheduled during the World Cup games. Are there any safety measures that FIFA is putting into place?

Yes. FIFA is collaborating with the Federal Police to provide safety measures to the players, fans, tourists, and the volunteers.

10. What has been the most enjoyable part of preparing to be a World Cup volunteer?

Meeting new faces and making new friends during our integration training course at the University of Brasilia was the most enjoyable part of my preparation as a World Cup volunteer.

11. Last question: who do you think will win the World Cup?

I think Brazil will win.

As featured on Elite Millenial, 17 June 2014