My Fulbright Experience in Brazil at Univali – Universidade do Vale do Itajai

By Professor Mohammed Rawwas
University of Northern Iowa
Professor of Marketing

My Fulbright in Brazil, where I taught and conducted research in business and marketing, stands out as one of my best teaching experiences.  I enjoyed the company of the university’s warm and helpful administration, professors, and students.  The International Director made every effort to make my family and my visit comfortable and rewarding and the university’s president and vice president were open, cordial and sincere.  They were very much interested in what I was offering in terms of research and teaching experience, and placed a great value on this exchange program.   Consequently, they asked me to give several lectures to undergrads and MBA and Ph.D. students in different locations in Brazil.

The professors I worked with were also very hospitable and warm-hearted.  Many of them attended my classes and showed genuine interest in my teaching and research.  They asked me to give a presentation about my research and many had interests similar to mine: consumer behavior, sustainability, business ethics, and new product development – all topics that are crucial for building a growing Brazilian economy. The discussion was very rewarding and I learned a great deal from my Brazilian colleagues.

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Professor Mohammed Rawwas with his graduate students.

Students were very curious and keen for knowledge.  I gave many lectures to different groups of students at a variety of locations, teaching undergrads in the university’s Balneario Camboriu campus (a fifteen-minute drive from home), MBA and Ph.D. students at the Florianopolis campus (a two-hour drive), and non-business students at the Itajai campus (a one-hour drive).   The most interesting class to me was to listen to Ph.D. students presentations discussing their dissertations.  My role was to answer their questions and provide guidance.  I was very impressed and pleased with the seriousness and the quality of their research.  This type of interaction made my stay extremely valuable and rewarding.

Although the university’s main administration office was located in Itajai, we were offered accommodation in Balneario Camboriu (a resort town on the Atlantic Ocean).  During the summer (winter in the northern hemisphere), it was very crowded.  In autumn, during our visit, it was mild.  The beaches were clean and populated by vacationing families. We used to walk every evening on the beach to watch the sunset and wait for fishermen to bring in their catch.  Fish was abundant, large in variety and high in quality, and prices were very affordable.  The town had one main street that was full of boutiques, restaurants, and bakery shops, and looked like a petite avenue of Champs-Élysées.  At the end of the street, there was a monstrous Wal-Mart that the Brazilians called Biggy.  Kibbe and Soufieh, two Lebanese dishes, were offered everywhere, including in the main street.  It seemed that the nine million Lebanese who immigrated two hundred years ago to Brazil definitively left their mark on Brazilian culture.

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Professor Rawwas’ children at Foz Do Iguassu waterfalls.

The major trips we made were to Foz Do Iguassu waterfalls and Bonito village.  Foz Do Iguassu waterfalls span three countries: Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.  The falls, totaling 275 in number and stretching for almost two miles, have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls.  Bonito village is located in the deep, tropical west of Brazil.  Wildlife was abundant, including parrots, toucans, macaws, owls, and emus.  We snorkeled in a river, white water rafted and watched various species of fish. In sum, we enjoyed every minute of our experience.  Our life will never be the same after experiencing this rich culture and its warm and friendly people.