My name is Tevin Robbins and I am a graduating senior majoring in Psychology with a Critical Cultural Competency Certificate and minor in Human Relations. During my time at the University of Iowa I have served in a leadership capacity for many student organizations as well as maintaining on the Dean’s List academically. With all these accomplishments it even surprises me sometimes that I am a first-generation college student with not very many people to look up to for examples as well as exceling while being a full time father to a little two year old girl.
Because I had my daughter during my sophomore year at Iowa I felt like my study abroad aspirations were going to have to be a memory. This is because I could never bear the idea of being a long distance away from my daughter for a long period of time. But upon discovering the Critical Cultural Competency Certificate program and needing to go on an immersion experience to complete the certificate requirements is when I finally went into the Study Abroad office and inquired information about various Winter Session trips. Hence my capability to travel to Brazil for the Brazilian Carnival: Music and Culture trip for 3½ weeks.
Also being a first-generation student often my family was very hesitant of supporting me going out of the country because of the unknown aspect of going abroad. Ultimately, I had to discuss with them to trust me that I would be as safe as possible and that this was an academic requirement for my certificate program, not just going on vacation. While I was able to calm their nerves a little I still reached out to them on Skype and Facebook whenever I could.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel to Brazil for study abroad because of the ability to be completely immersed in a culture, the beauty of the country, and the great people I got to meet and grow in relationship with. During my time there with this experience we were able to participate with the different Schools of Samba in Rio de Janeiro as they prepared for their annual Carnival celebration. In the midst of this we were able to learn the history of the culture through the history of Afro-Brazilians, music, dance, and the Schools of Samba. Because of my work with African American studies in the U.S. I particularly interested in learning about the African culture in another context and how the Great Atlantic Slave trade affected the Black diaspora in Brazil. I feel like I would have never been able to learn the things that I was able to without being able to be immersed in this amazingly diverse culture. I am truly honored by the opportunity and look forward to the day I am able to travel to Brazil again.