Western Kentucky University

Kentucky Fulbright Association

Michael Trapasso

This opportunity was without a doubt one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.  For 8 weeks I was allowed to travel to most of the provinces of Brazil (a country roughly the size of the Continental United States).  We were based mainly in Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia, but spend time in at least a half dozen other cities.  Though I was mostly accompanied by social science faculty; I held true to my own field on Physical Geography and Climatology.  My primary research project (everyone was required to concentrate on a particular project) was the Deforestation of the Amazon.  So spending a great deal of time in the Rainforest was my primary goal.  However, I also found a great interest in the protection of the Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlantica).  Along the way I also studied the way the Brazilians were using ethanol distilled from the vast sugar cane crops to establish a viable fuel for their automobiles.

Being surrounded by the social/cultural-type faculty allowed me to experience extensive tours of the huge Brazilian favelas (slum areas) and see some of the social issues that create them.  I was also able to witness a "Candomble' " and an "Encantaria."  These cultural/religious/voodoo celebrations were fascinating and I wrote about those as well.  In all, my experience in Brazil remains one of my most favorite and most enlightening of my life.

 Last Modified 2/27/14