BRAZIL ON MY MIND

Now back home in NYC it is surreal to think back about the last two weeks in Brazil. Running into my GIP classmates in the halls of Columbia Business School, we yearn to relive the most exciting and hilarious events from our trip, for we share a journey that will never fade from our memories. On the first day of the Global Immersion class this semester I surprisingly only knew five of the thirty students who were traveling with me to Brazil. I now feel so lucky to have such a unique connection to every one of them. Below is a recount of some of the moments that helped build this bond:

Last night out in Brazil. Dance party at the Jockey Club in Rio.
Last night out in Brazil. Dance party at the Jockey Club in Rio.

Cultural Lessons Learned

BUDDY SYSTEM

Before the trip began we spent part of our last class discussing safety tips for Brazil, especially since one of the stops on our itinerary was a visit to a Brazilian favela (slum). Our Professor and TA’s strongly emphasized a page-worth of precautionary advice such as not walking around with your phone out, not waiving taxi’s down on the street, staying in groups, and not speaking loudly in English when walking around. Though most places in Brazil did feel very safe, we all became very watchful of each other which led to a tight knit and extremely inclusive group during the trip.

First day in Brazil together dressed up after joining a protest march in Sao Paulo
First day in Brazil together dressed up after joining a protest march in Sao Paulo

DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? HABLAS ESPANOL?? PORTUGUESE???

One of the most shocking discoveries of our trip was just how little English or Spanish the Brazilian community spoke, especially in Rio de Janeiro. In class we had talked extensively about how self-reliant the Brazilian economy was, but one could have never imagined how difficult it would be to find locals, cab drivers, waiters, shop keepers, anybody who spoke anything other than Portuguese. That said, we all quickly learned the basic terms such as obrigado/a = thank you, frango = chicken, conta = bill, bom dia = good day, mais = more, agua sem gas = mineral water, caipirinha = caipirinha, and when all else failed we spent an enormous amount of time practicing our charades skills.

Business In Brazil

One of the best parts of the Global Immersion portion of our trip to Brazil was the amazing variety of industries that we had the opportunity to speak with. The trip was split up for us to meet with four organizations in Sao Paulo (Strategy&, Suzano Pulp and Paper, InBev, Banco Itau) and another four in Rio de Janeiro (BNDES, Petrobras, TV Globo, NGO Favela Tour). Of high interest to our group was the political and socio-economic climate in Brazil, dealing from corruption in business and government, to lack of infrastructure and educational gaps, all issues which we discussed extensively with CEO’s, economists, educators and managers on our company visits.

One of our favorite meetings was with the CEO of Suzano where we discussed the great un-equality between private and public school education and how tough it is for Brazil to retain well-educated workers as top talent are enticed by opportunities abroad.

Posing with the CEO of the Suzano Pulp and Paper Company
Posing for a photo with the CEO of the Suzano Pulp and Paper Company

Perhaps the most fun was visiting TV Globo studios, where we rode around in golf carts from set to set. It was exciting to see first hand how this telenovela factory produces 2,700 hours of in-house original content and over 3,000 hours of news content per year.

Behind the scenes on the set of TV Globo's famous telenovelas
Behind the scenes on the set of TV Globo’s famous telenovelas

One of the most eye opening experiences of the trip was visiting a favela (slum). We spent our last afternoon in Rio de Janeiro with two volunteers from a local NGO that provides educational services to the community. It was remarkable to learn about how the favela that we visited was once run by drug dealers just years ago, but recently overtaken by Brazilian police and military in a large pacification effort. Interestingly, many of the favela’s residents actually preferred life before the police took over arguing that many officers are corrupt and how the government provides less safety and infrastructural support than the drug lords.

A Trip We’ll Never Forget

Going to Brazil with this group truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity and will go down as one of my top memories at CBS. I really enjoyed the class time that we took to learn about the Brazilian history, economy, and culture. Having that background about the country made exploring Sao Paulo and Rio a much richer and more rewarding experience than I could have ever imagined. I think from now on I should only visit new places after first doing extensive research and selecting 30 amazing people to travel with 🙂

Stoop kids on set of a favela novela at TV Globo studios
Stoop kids on set of a favela novela at TV Globo studios
Enjoying giant desserts at our last dinner together
Enjoying giant desserts at our last dinner together
Loving the buffet line between company meetings in Rio
Loving the buffet line between company meetings in Rio
Joining a local soccer game
Joining a local soccer game
Soccer Everywhere
Soccer Everywhere
Enjoying unlimited meats of a fine Churrascaria
Enjoying unlimited meats of a fine Churrascaria
Tram ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
Tram ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain
When our powers combine...
When our powers combine…

To explore our trip check out #GIPBrazil #CBSChazenTravel #ChazenBreadBasket on social media.

Andrew Zalk ’15

Lovin Life in RIO!

CHEERS TO OUR LAST NIGHT IN BRAZIL!!!

Two nights ago we flew from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro and we have been super active over the past 48 hours with amazing company visits and extracurricular activities 🙂

Learning about financing long term investment projects at the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES
Learning about financing long term investment projects at the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES
Discussing energy production at Petrobras
Discussing energy production at Petrobras
LIFE IN THE SLUMS  On set for one of Brazil's most popular telenovela tv shows at Globo Production Studios
LIFE IN THE SLUMS
On set for one of Brazil’s most popular telenovela tv shows at Globo Production Studios

The most important thing to know about Rio? Always keep the Caipirinhas flowing! Whether you drink them with strawberry or lemon, vodka or cachaca, they are absolutely delicious and guaranteed to get you into a party mood.

Enjoying caipirinhas and dinner at Bar Astor in Rio
Enjoying caipirinhas and dinner at Bar Astor in Rio
Night out at Rio Scenarium for some samba and techno fun
Night out at Rio Scenarium for some samba and techno fun

In Rio we have been exposed to an amazing beach life culture. This is a city of impressive architecture, unmatched natural beauty, and a fun-loving lifestyle like nowhere else in the world.

Lunch at a beautiful restaurant in Rio between company visits
Lunch at a beautiful restaurant in Rio between company visits
Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião
Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião
Admiring the beautiful stained glass windows from inside Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião RJ
Admiring the beautiful stained glass windows from inside Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião
Posing in front of the iconic Christ The Redeemer statue
Posing in front of the iconic Christ The Redeemer statue
The beautiful Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach

Tonight will be our last time all together in Brazil. To celebrate we are off to a churrascaria for endless meat and caipirinhas. Brazil will be forever in our memories and our hearts. What an amazing trip it has been. Time to say goodbye to Rio in style!

To follow the fun, check out #GIPBrazil #CBSChazenTravel #ChazenBreadBasket on social media.

Saúde!

Andrew Zalk ’15

Farewell Sao Paulo, HELLO Rio!

Brazil Flag

We’re halfway through our global immersion visit to Brazil and have had an AMAZING first few days in the bustling business center of Sao Paulo.

For those who have never visited Sao Paulo, here are some fun facts about the city…

  • Contains 19 million people.
  • Is the 3rd largest city in the world.
  • Contains the 3rd most high-rise buildings.
  • Ranks 6th in the world in number of Billionaires.
  • Is the 10th wealthiest city in the world.
  • Contains the largest Japanese population (1 million Japanese) outside of Japan.

EXPERIENCING GLOBAL IMMERSION: BRAZIL

On Sunday morning we kicked off our Global Immersion program with a tour of the Mercado Municipal where we sampled exotic fruits and local sandwiches. Hundreds of local restaurants visit the Mercado daily for fresh ingredients.

The Mercado Food Market in Sao Paulo
The Mercado Municipal Food Market in Sao Paulo
Exploring the stands of exotic fruits at the Mercado
Exploring the stands of exotic fruits at the Mercado

Followed by a visit to the Museum of Football where we learned about the legends of Brazilian soccer.

Playing in a virtual soccer field
Playing in a virtual soccer field
Posing with the soccer balls of the past 9 world cups
Soccer balls of the past 9 world cups

Before settling back at the hotel, a number of us joined over one million Brazilians in a country-wide protest demanding the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

Joining the protests on the streets of Sao Paulo
Joining the protests on the streets of Sao Paulo
"Forza Dilma" which means "Dilma Out" protesting that President Dilma should be kicked out of office
“Forza Dilma” which means “Dilma Out” protesting that President Dilma should be kicked out of office

Monday afternoon the entire class met for a session with Strategy & PWC where we took a look back at the past 40 years of the Brazilian economy and a look ahead to Brazil’s role as a major exporter and growing economic power.

Strategy& PWC offices in Sao Paulo
Strategy& PWC offices in Sao Paulo

The next two days featured three more company visits including an amazing behind the scenes tour of Suzano Pulp and Paper company…

The entire class ready to take a tour of the Suzano Pulp and Paper factory
The entire class ready to take a tour of the Suzano Pulp and Paper factory
Touring the Suzano factory
Touring the Suzano factory
The factory runs day and night with 5 shifts of workers
The factory runs day and night with 5 shifts of workers
#MakinThatPaper
#MakinThatPaper

Participation in the drum banging and energizing morning sales ritual at Am Bev beer company…

And a discussion on economic trends in Brazil with one of the largest banks in the world, BNDES.

Along with the business lessons, of course a huge part of being in Brazil is experiencing the culture first hand through amazing dinners and nights out on the town.

The whole class out for some Sao Paulo style Italian!
The whole class out for some Sao Paulo style Italian!
Having fun at a Kareoke bar
Night out in Sao Paulo
Karaoke night!
Singing the night away

STILL TO COME…

We look forward to continuing our immersion experience over the next three days as we take on Rio de Janeiro! To follow along the journey be sure to check out #CBSChazenTravel #GIPBrazil #ChazenBreadBasket on social media.

Saúde!

Andrew Zalk, MBA ‘15

One Week Until GIP Brazil Begins!

Ilha Grande is a quiet island, two and a half hours by car then twenty minutes by boat from the city of Rio de Janeiro. It is a place of wild dogs, no cars, but thankfully plumbing and electricity! Lying in a hammock surrounded by mountainous greenery, shade of tall trees and looking out upon an inlet of the ocean speckled with parked water taxis and sailboats I cannot believe that we are really here. We are really in Brazil!

IMG_3835
Ilha Grande

It is about one week before the travel portion of the Global Immersion class will kick off in Sao Paulo and for the past four days a handful of us have been venturing around the state of Rio de Janeiro, exploring some of its most beautiful neighborhoods and sites.

Ipanema Beach
Ipanema Beach
IMG_3820
Neighborhood of Santa Teresa
Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer

Thus far the food has been amazing, the coconut water revitalizing, the caipirinhas epically delicious, and the views… Well, it is Rio 🙂

View of Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf Mountain
View of Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf Mountain

LOOKING AHEAD

This semester in the classroom we’ve learned about Brazil’s codependence with China for their growing economies, Brazil’s geographic relationship to west Africa and their similarities in terrain and natural resources, and the story of Brazil’s origins as a mix of Portuguese settlers and slaves from Africa. For next week we are all really looking forward to learning more about both the cultural and business landscape of this incredibly large and diverse country. It is especially amazing how eclectic our list of company visits are that Professor Martinez has planned for us across Sao Paulo and Rio, covering a wide variety of industries including beer, entertainment, finance, energy, consulting, pulp & paper, and an NGO.

Looking forward to meeting up with the rest of the class in Sao Paulo. To follow along the journey be sure to follow #ChazenBreadBasket #GIPBrazil #CBSChazenTravel #GreyMonday #BlueDayTuesday #WhiteTeeWednesday #StraightStraightLeft on social media. Saúde!

Andrew Zalk, MBA’15