Joanna Scolary, MSc student
King's Brazil Institute
"Brazilian participation in World War II? Really?! I had no idea!"
Such is the response I receive across the board when I share my experience in Italy with my friends and family. Yes who knew that some 25,000 soldiers had left the warm Brazilian sun to come fight alongside the Allies in the snowy Italian Apennines from 1944 to 1945?
I myself, much like my surprised and intrigued audience, had no knowledge of Brazil's involvement in the Second World War. It was therefore not only a wonderful educational experience but also a memorable human experience to be able to walk in the footsteps of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in Italy. Indeed, having the opportunity to visit the places where the Brazilian troops were stationed and fought, talking to survivors and listening to stories from people perpetrating the Brazilian memory made for a truly unforgettable trip.
In fact, as my companions and I walk up snowy Monte Castello, where the Brazilian soldiers fought the enemy, I take a moment to ask myself how such a wondrous winter wonderland could once be home to such violent episodes of our common history. I also think how saddening that the Brazilian soldiers could not revel in the beauty that was before them because of what they were going through. However, I find consolation in hearing the stories about how those dark pages of our history books were embellished by the presence, courage, joie de vivre and humanity of those 25,000 brave Brazilian men.
I always joke about referring to myself as a "brasileira de coração". After such an incredible trip I can say without the shadow of a doubt that Brazilian at heart I now feel more than ever.
Obrigada to all for making this study excursion so delightful!