By: Pietra Diwan
VP IPO for Portuguese Program, Historian and Professor.
DORAL, FL – September is an important month for Brazilians all across the globe. It’s the month they celebrate their independence. Besides the fact that Brazilian Independence was most an arrangement between father and son – Dom Pedro I got the colony for himself from his father, the king of Portugal, Dom João VI – in 1822, Brazilians respect the date as the moment we were able to build a genuine Brazilian identity.
From the past few years Brazilians are immigrating to the United States, in special Florida and surroundings. The Brazilian community of Doral grew considerably until a point that in 2015, a school dedicated to bi-lingual curriculum in Portuguese was inaugurated.
Downtown Doral Charter School (DDCUS) was designed to assist Doral community of people interested in bilingual curriculum in Spanish or Portuguese. The program attracted not only Portuguese language speakers but lots of other families interested your children learn other idiom and culture.
The school has high standards since its beginning, always pushing students and parents to the highest academic success of its members. For this reason, over the past few years this new school is setting higher standards for our community. Quickly the school achieved not only the a highest level of accreditation, but also recently scored the second best place in the district at the Florida State Assessment.
After lots of expectations, at the beginning of this school year, Downtown Doral Charter Schools opened its Upper School receiving a group of around 900 students, in modern and over the top facility. The Upper School is equipped with last generation technology, and students don’t carry textbooks but an iPad. By the way, expectations for these students are also very high. The Head of School, Mrs. Jeanette Acevedo-Isenberg and the Principal, Mr. Willhein Lapica expect to prepare students for the most requested universities in the country, and above all, forge global leaders transforming DDCUS in a model of academic success.
Embedded by this spirit of success learning opportunities that requires critical thinking and social abilities are also stimulated through hands-on projects. To celebrate Brazilian Independence, the Portuguese Program developed a very innovative project with the help of the International Parents Association (IPO).
The worldwide famous photographer Angelica Dass is a Brazilian born woman that lived most of her life abroad. Her professional and personal journeys were showcase in a TED Talk called “The beauty of human skin in every color” in 2016, and from this conference I rushed to contact her to ask her collaboration in a workshop and multimedia project that connected her, who lives in Madrid, with DDCUS students from the school in Doral. The idea was use a conference type of connection to provide a quick talk between her and students.
Her Angélica Dass’s photography challenges how we think about skin color and ethnic identity. The inspiration behind her portrait project, Humanæ, is her own life and circumstances, and her pursuit to document humanity’s true colors rather than the untrue white, red, black and yellow associated with race. The result of her work is beautiful and brings awareness to our society about how we approach skin color and identity.
Downtown Doral Upper School, in special the Portuguese Program had the opportunity of doing a workshop developed by Mrs. Dass project, Humanae. Students were invited to reflect and create their own portraits during Humanities’ class lead by Mr. Verri. Almost two hundred students developed for almost one week their own portraits using canvas, paint and a mirror.
After painting, students were able to compare their portraits and skin colors with their classmates. The conclusion was that besides the fact that skin color is a wide palette full of variations, it is possible to name it using our own backgrounds that at the end, it means that skin color doesn’t make us different at all. We are all part of a society that creates patterns and categories to separate people from each other instead of unite them.
For IPO to give the opportunity to students from DDCUS to learn about the Project Humanae and be part of it is not only rewarding but also important to make the children of our community grow with self-awareness of their identities, and reflect about it. This is what make this school so special. Provide and foster learning situations that will prepare them to look to the world where we live in and engage it as fully conscious citizens.
This year Celebration of the Brazilian Independence at Downtown Doral Charter Upper School was the first event of this brand new school and with proud inaugurated a new educational path for our children. With respect the Brazilian anthem was sang, its flag raised, and them students shared their portraits as a symbol of the diversity and acceptance, essential element to integrate a community.