Click here for more current events lesson plans matched to national standards.
Far From Home During War
By: Brian Burton, Age 16 Posted: 4.29.03
A foreign exchange student living in Brazil shares his experiences as an American abroad during a time of war.
If you have a story about how a news event affected your life, contact us.
As the war comes to an end, I'm far from the place I call
home - in Brazil as a foreign exchange student. I reflect a lot about
my first experience of war - as I watched each step on television.
Life in a small city
The impact of media
Before the war started, a Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo stated that "unless the [U.S.] president demonstrates that Baghdad is an imminent threat, it seems more reasonable to believe that the real motives for the war are oil, and U.S. hegemony."
Now after the fighting has subsided, a discussion in my Portuguese class was held concerning a newspaper article that said the American people should have shame because no chemical or biological weapons have been found, and the principle ethics of humanity were compromised by invading Iraq to gain control of the oil-rich nation.
The reputation of America is not being helped by the behavior of some Americans, be they public figures who oppose the war openly or some of the military in Iraq.
I can't count the number of times I have been confronted about the marine who draped the U.S. flag over the head of the statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad. Although, to us, the flag is a symbol of peace and liberty, the world doesn't understand or accept that. This was yet another instance when not only people in my city, but the world, were given a negative view of America on television stations and in newspapers all over the globe.
What I've learned
While in Brazil I realized that people in the world think differently. Some believe that casualties of the war are justified by the freeing of the millions of suffering Iraqi citizens. Others are completely anti-war and see solutions other than bloodshed. I have been introduced to a completely different environment, not only geographically but also morally and mentally. The roads are stone, rarely is there ever pavement, people greet me with "three kisses", the lunchtime is spent at home away from the office and public displays of affection that may not be accepted in my city in the United States is seen as "natural."
Like many of my peers, before I came to Brazil I felt as if I was out of touch with the rest of the world. Now that I have a different international outlook and perception, I must bring my experience back home and try to influence my peers.
Copyright © MacNeil-Lehrer Productions All Rights Reserved