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Voyeurism or Tourism?

by Vanessa Adegbite

Drip, drip, drip… Silence. Nothing was heard, but rain on the morning of June 2nd as the WVU College of Law Brazil Study Abroad members entered the heart of a favela in the world renowned city of Rio de Janeiro. More than 300,000 inhabitants lived there, yet not many were seen; what seemed like thousands of scant five-story homes; narrow roads; pungent, delectable smells, and underlying curiosity made the artwork that many of us seen the previous morning at the weekly hippie market come to life. Much like the rows of artists striving to sell their paintings, so were the hundreds of colorful homes painted on the once blank canvasses—all inspired by the favelas. As our guide lead us to the top of a tall building we saw it all. We were told the favela we were in was only pacified because of its close proximity to a World Cup site, but for the other 700+ favelas nothing had been done. We toured the mini city and were surprised by some of the pleasantries and luxuries decorating the people and homes, but realized much like our lives they too have one to live as best as they can, with as little or much as they have. Right before we departed the silence was broken at the outskirts of the favela and again you could hear the traffic of the streets and marketplace—leaving me wondering, what voice will I and my peers give to the silence that consumed the favela that day?


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