On Thursday, May 31, 2018, MIDN 1/C Michaela White, MIDN 1/C Mark Hanson, MIDN 1/C Mikaela Garrott, MIDN 1/C Stephen Larison, MIDN 1/C Kendal Good, and MIDN 2/C Simona Babb departed the United States Naval Academy, led by CDR Wagener, the Chair of the Languages and Cultures Department, for Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, the Southern Cone of Latin America.
The next 11 days were filled with a cultural and language experience that tested the Midshipmen in an unfamiliar environment. Everything from ordering a taxi and checking into a hotel to asking for directions and interacting with the locals challenged the Midshipmen’s language abilities. CDR Wagener offered his regional expertise and guidance to the Midshipmen in order to enhance their experience, and allow them to better appreciate the three countries.
Leaving Paraguay for Brazil across the International Friendship Bridge started the final third of the trip. In Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, the Mids were anxious to attend a traditional Churrascaria Show. Showcased dances from eight different Latin American nations were enjoyed at the same time as a buffet filled with Latin American foods and drinks. The next day was filled with another trip to the Falls, but this time from the safety of land. The sun was shining, and the Brazilians were very anxious to show just how much more beautiful their side of the park was from the Argentinian side.
The last destination on the LREC was the infamous city of Rio de Janeiro. The Mids learned about the constant efforts of the elite military police, or Bope, in fighting violence and drug trafficking in the Favelas. They also took a trip up Corcovado Mountain to the Cristo Redentor. Armed with miniature icons and plenty of pictures of both the statue and the view of the city, the Mids retired to Ipanema beach, where they relaxed and recuperated from a long trip. The final day of the trip took place at the Brazilian Naval Academy, where former exchange officer LCDR Alexander Ferreira gave the Midshipmen a tour, and Brazilian Admiral Claudio Mello de Almeida shared his experience working with the United Nations in leading the first Naval Component of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).