Baylor in Brazil students share faith, earn class credit

Baylor students assist Brazilian children and adults in learning how to live healthy lifestyles during their study abroad program in the second 2011 summer session.
Jade Webb | Courtesy Photo

By Jessica Foumena

Through the Baylor in Brazil program, students spent the second summer session combining faith with work on the southeast coast of Brazil. The students took classes, taught health classes to locals and did mission work with several local Baptist churches during their stay.

“Students worked with local churches to develop programs that develop healthy lifestyles: eating healthy and managing stress,” Dr. Eva Doyle, co-director of the program, said.

Fort Worth junior Mallory Streiffert said she liked the comprehensive aspect of the program because it included mission work, public health education and study abroad credit hours.

The missionary aspect of the program caught the attention of Gilmer junior Jade Webb as well.

“This trip was unique from most Baylor study abroad trips because it was a mission-based trip,” Webb said.

This program not only allowed students to take Baylor courses in a foreign country, but also to become involved with the people of that country by working with churches and other health leaders in Brazil.

In the mornings, students attended two courses: Global Health and Environmental Health. The afternoons and evenings were dedicated to teaching local residents about having better health; each student taught at least two or three lessons as part of their curriculum.

“Our plan was to focus on areas that most affected these adolescents, like nutrition, exercise, stress, drugs, alcohol and sexuality,” Streiffert said.

The global health course provided knowledge about health issues around the world and locally in Brazil, whereas the environmental health course addressed the effects of various factors such as society, culture and economy on people’s health.

“Our goal for the students is that their eyes will be open about health issues around the world,” Doyle said. “They will develop a deep understanding of how they can help and be part of the solutions of these health issues.”

The first full week, the group traveled to a small mountain community called Dores do Rio Preto with the First Baptist Church of Anchieta, where they renovated a local church and hosted a vacation Bible school for the children of the community.

“We worshipped with this church and evangelized to the people of the mountain community,” Webb said. “While there, as well as with the other churches and school, we taught the LiveWell program or a modified version of the LiveWell program.”

The LiveWell program focuses on the different aspects of health, with particularly heavy emphasis on the spiritual aspect. Students taught classes to the local residents through the program.

“Teaching about human physiology through a translator to an audience that I did not know the education level had its challenges,” Streiffert said. “I simply kept it simple to understand while at the same time did not insult their intelligence.”

Despite the language barrier, the students worked directly with the local residents and had the opportunity to share their faith.

“We worked to teach the adults and adolescents that God fills our life with purpose and part of that purpose involves maintaining a healthy life by exercising and eating better,” Webb said. “It was different to interact with a different culture spiritually and learn what exercise looks like a different setting.”

The students plan to transfer their newly acquired knowledge in their future professions.

“I plan to implement what I learned about people’s physical, spiritual and emotional health when I am a doctor,” Streiffert said. “Being around the Brazilian people and seeing what their actual needs are encouraged me to further my education in order that I can go to low-income countries and help as a medical doctor with these needs.”

For more information about the Baylor in Brazil program, email Dr. Eva Doyle: