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A Deeper Look Into Brazilian Interest In Schumacher College’s Philosophy

By Claudia Chow

If you were at Schumacher over the last few months, you probably met a lot of Brazilians and probably asked some of them the question that is contained in the title of this article. Although I don´t know what the Brazilian you asked said to you, I, being Brazilian, was asked this question many times during my stay. I realised that I didn´t have a good answer to give to people, and because of that I decided to write this article to try find some clues.

First of all, the idea that ‘there are so many Brazilians at Schumacher’ is not just an impression you have gained because we are really social and noisy (!) it is in fact because there are a lot of us. Schumacher College's Postgraduate Administrator told me that Brazilians make up the majority of International students outside of the EU on the masters programme. During the 2016-2017 year for Holistic Science, Economics for Transition and Ecological Design Thinking courses they were 36 students in total, 9 of them being Brazilian which means that 25% of the students are from the biggest coffee producing country in the world!

I asked some of the Brazilians students what they thought about why so many people from the largest country in South America were so interested in what Schumacher teaches. Many of the answers mentioned our huge forest and biodiversity which link to the teachings at the college. Maybe it is because of that so many Brazilians are interested in discovering different ways of  protecting and reconnecting with nature.

Rafaela Scheiffer, a Brazilian Holistic Science student believes that Brazil itself, our mother country, is sending us here. “The land sends her beings to collect the new seeds, to cultivate a new understanding, to prepare for a brand new harvest. The new scientists, economists, designers will be, first of all, beautiful human beings”. Having so many of Schumacher’s ‘seeds’ in Brazil provides a sense good hope to make it a better place for us all to live.

An Ecological Design Thinking student, Priscila Freitas, felt that Brazil was a sacred soil and a rich nature, which makes us naturally concerned about environmental issues. But she says that could be just be a coincidence as well!

In one of the fireside chats with Satish, just after he’d visited Brazil, he said that he was delighted and inspired by the Amazon and all its abundance of nature, water and land. I asked him this same question and besides mentioning our abundant nature, he commented on Brazil’s mixed roots and how we live in harmony with that and how this makes Brazil a special place. He also believes  that Brazilians are looking for new ideas and they come to places like Schumacher College to discover new ways to deal with the wealth we have in our country.

The appeal of Schumacher College is not only measured by the students and volunteers here in England, but we can also see the numbers in Satish’s recent visit to Brazil where he launched his book Soil Soul Society in Portuguese and gave a number of speeches. In two of his free speeches in São Paulo, over 600 people turned up to listen to him and another seven thousand watched on line.

For Juliana Schneider, founding-director of Escola Schumacher Brazil, the interest of so many Brazilians in studying at Schumacher College has to do with an enthusiasm for change and to learning how to do so through community. She thinks that Brazil is going though urgent times with many Brazilians sensing and responding to that urgency. Also, both the warmth and the spontaneity people experience at the College are cultural qualities which she believes our people hold and we recognise this experience of family within the college, like a sense of coming home. “Home to our roots and also to our indigenous ancestry as we realise ourselves as fully embodied beings in this living world.” Finding a way back to home could be a good answer as well to the question of why we’re all coming here.

So why do so many Brazilians come to Schumacher? The variations of answers here all link to our common need to take care of our home, our common concern to protect our nature and to do all this in a new ways establishing a strong sense of community. Of course each who comes to Schumacher has their own reason, but seeing so many people from the same place coming is intriguing. We also cannot forget the important Brazilian features which also accompany the people to the college: sociability and curiosity. We love to talk and probably all the histories of the people who come here and then return back to Brazil get passed on to their friends and family, awakening curiosity in others to know better this magic place called Schumacher College.