Culture Lessons


Arts and cuisine featured at “Year of the Portuguese-Speaking World” Day KENNESAW, Ga…

Georgia (Oct 8, 2015)

Arts and cuisine featured at “Year of the Portuguese-Speaking World” Day

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 8, 2015) ─ The “Year of the Portuguese Speaking World” Day event at Kennesaw State this week was a teachable moment when performances of Brazil’s most famous party dance ─ the Samba ─ and its martial art and dance form called capoeira turned into engaging lessons for students, faculty, staff and other guests.

The cuisines of Brazil and Portugal and a native Portuguese folktale performed by the KSU Tellers were also part of the learning experience at the event, which helped launch Kennesaw State’s 32nd annual country study. 

This year’s study, which continues throughout the 2015-16 academic year, will feature a series of lectures, conferences and cultural events designed to promote a deeper appreciation for and understanding of the Portuguese-speaking countries of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tome and Príncipe. The “Year of” program is coordinated by the University’s Division of Global Affairs.

“It was a lot of fun,” junior psychology major Shaina Nicolas said of her experience joining other students in following professional dancer Andrea Moreirá of the Dance Brasil Company in a series of Samba movements. “This is a beautiful culture, and it’s great that KSU made all this effort to show students that there’s more to this world. The more we experience other people’s culture, the more in tune we become with them.”

Capoeira Master Muriel Ribeiro, founder of Atlanta’s Cordão de Ouro (CDO) Atlanta, also used the occasion to school the Kennesaw State audience in the history and culture of his art, which was created nearly half a century ago by Brazilian slaves, mostly from Angola. Though a martial art that combines dance, music and acrobatics, it is thought of more as a game than a fighting form, and is designed to make people healthy and happy, he explained. Accompanied by capoeira instructors Sean Porter, Ivan brown and Marcus, Ribero preformed three movements of the game and gave a participatory demonstration of the stringed berimbau, the fundamental instrument of capoeira.

Understanding the complex histories and cultural dynamics of the relatively undiscovered Portuguese-speaking world at KSU is one of the overarching goals of the YPSW study, said Dan Paracka,director of academic initiatives in the Division of Global Affairs.

“Such a project is borne from the growth and collapse of the Portuguese Empire and the ever-changing post/neo-colonial conditions that continues to shape the national and cultural identities, worldviews, and relationships of these countries and their people,” Paracka said in an introductory essay co-written with Robert Simon, associate professor and coordinator of the Portuguese program in the Department of Foreign Languages.  

Portugal learned advanced seafaring techniques from its earlier Arab conquerors and became a nation of global traders and explorers, Paracka noted. It then established colonies in the Atlantic islands of Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde; built factories and fortifications along the Atlantic coast of Africa; and formed a treaty with Spain that incorporated Brazil and much of Africa into Portugal’s domain.

“Portuguese language unites such a diverse group of cultures, literatures, histories, and worldviews,” Simon added. “Conversely, these peoples, their traditions and artistic expressions, and even the places themselves, have rewritten the Portuguese language, providing for its future as a world language."

The intermix of Portuguese, African and Brazilian cultures was especially evident at the YPSW Day event in the cuisines presented by local chefs from Emidio’s Restaurant, which specializes in Portuguese international cuisine; Minas Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse and market; and Mr. Cheese Bread, whose specialty is authentic Brazilian Pão de Quiejo, which has roots in Africa.  Among the dishes guests enjoyed were Portuguese carne alentejana (pork and clams in wine sauce); Brazilian Coxinhas (seasoned ground chicken formed into drumsticks and fried); Kibe (a fried croquette of bulgur wheat, ground beef and cheese); empada (a pie pastry stuffed with shredded chicken, green olives and hearts of palm), regional deserts and four varieties of cheese balls made from yucca flour, an African staple.

Gabriela Bueno, a junior theater major who came to Kennesaw State from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on a tennis scholarship, said she felt right at home. 

“I only get to go home twice a year and I get homesick,” she said. “This event brings Brazil here so my friends get to see some of my culture.”

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Sabbaye McGriff

Photos by Robert Anthony Stalcup



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit