Brazil: Culture and Environmental Sustainability

Experience Brazil's ecological and cultural diversity and learn about the country's ongoing efforts related to sustainability on this high school summer abroad program.

Discover the environmental and cultural diversity of Brazil, one of the world’s fastest growing economies. On this high school summer abroad program, explore contemporary opportunities and challenges facing Brazil, particularly in the areas of sustainability and environmental conservation, while experiencing many of Brazil’s different cultures and communities. Visit coastlines, mountains, and forests to see the unique species inhabiting some of the most biodiverse locations in the southern hemisphere.

Cananéia, a historic coastal town founded in the sixteenth century, will be your base for exploring the Atlantic Forest, home to diverse species, many of which are endemic to the area. Visit fishing villages and trek through the forest and pristine beaches of Cardoso Island State Park. Spend time in an indigenous Caiçara community and quilombo communities, originally formed in the nineteenth century by escaped slaves. Learn about conservation and sustainability efforts in the area.

A 13-day homestay, which will allow you to become part of a Brazilian family, will take place in Monte Alegre do Sul, a town nestled within the Mantiqueira mountain range. Share in the daily activities of your host family. Start learning Portuguese and practice your new language skills over home-cooked meals. See colonial architecture while strolling down cobblestone streets and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains while sipping coffee in local cafés. Visit nearby waterfalls and mountain forests and see toucans and parakeets in their natural habitats. During the program, you and your group will participate in community service projects.

US citizens require a visa for this program. The visa fee will be billed separately.

Community Service Certificate: At the conclusion of this program, participants will earn a community service certificate noting how many hours of community service they completed.

Orientation: Monte Alegre do Sul, 3 days
Homestay: Monte Alegre do Sul,* 13 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels and lodges

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–3

Orientation in Monte Alegre Do Sul

  • Learn about the history and culture of Brazil in Monte Alegre Do Sul, a town nestled within the Mantiquiera mountain range.
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities and discussions.
  • Enjoy views of surrounding mountains while sampling Brazilian cuisine in local cafés.
  • Visit sites in town and observe colonial architecture while strolling down cobblestone streets.
  • Practice your Portuguese language skills.

During the orientation, you and your group will stay in cabins on a working farm in a country setting.

Days 4–14

Homestay and Community Service

  • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Brazilian family and community.
  • Do activities with your host family.
  • Take Portuguese language classes with your group.
  • Explore your host community and the surrounding area with your group. Excursions include: exploring the town of Serra Negra and attend a capoeira presentation.
  • Visit Pousada da Fazenda, a coffee farm and enjoy horseback riding, see a waterfall, learn about coffee production, and observe Brazilian fruits and juices produced in the field.
  • Participate in a service project to benefit your host community. Sample project: work with a local NGO that is revitalizing natural areas by producing seedlings and native tree species to combat deforestation.
  • During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host community: Monte Alegre Do Sol.

Days 14-16

Ecological Adventure in Cananéia ­

  • Travel to Cananéia to explore the social and environmental characteristics of the preserved coastal region.
  • Visit a sustainable oyster extraction and commercialization facility run by traditional communities.
  • Visit Quilombo, a traditional community founded by former fugitive slaves.

Days 17-19

Ecological Adventure in Maruja

  • Transfer by boat on a three-hour navigation in estuarine waters along the mangroves to the small traditional fisherman village of Maruja.
  • Stay in original fisherman homes that have been transformed into guest houses and know the community.
  • Enjoy hiking over the Atlantic Forest, mangroves, and sandy beaches.
  • Learn about conservation initiatives for local ecosystems.

Days 20-21

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in São Paulo

  • Enjoy a guided tour of São Paulo and visit historical sites and museums.
  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program and prepare for your return.

During this period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hostel.


Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.