Canek Phillips Travels to Cherokee Nation and Brazil

I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to so many wonderful places this summer where people have extended their hospitality and given me a chance to learn about their way of life.

My first leg of my trip (from May 7 to May 10) was to Cherokee, NC as part of a trip with a linguistics class taught by Prof Elena Benedicto. You may recognize Patrick too 🙂 He came along as well.

Cherokee, NC is the location of the reservation for the Eastern Band Cherokee, and it is home to the founding site of the Cherokee. The reservation is also home to a Cherokee language revitalization program that is headed by Cherokee natives who want to see the preservation and growth of their language. The reservation lies right at the feet of the Great Smoky Mountains, and to say that the land is beautiful is an understatement. I had never been to the Smokies, and after going, I know I need to come back one day.

Above is a picture of the founding place of the Cherokee nation. It was a pretty amazing place to see. The name of the founding place is called “Kituwah” and the story of how it came back into Cherokee hands is one that is quite moving.

A week later (May 16 – May 26), I went to Brazil as part of a study abroad program called Amazonia, Climate Change, and Remote Sensing. Above is a picture of the group I went with from the Manaus leg of the trip. Todd (the guy in black) is holding a bag of special guaran.  I highly recommend you ask me the story behind it one day.

This map illustrates our travels through Brazil.

We went to the state of Sao Paolo to the University of Sao Paolo – San Jose dos Campos (marked as #1 on the map). We visited the university to learn more about how UAVs are built and how they are used to gather data about the environment. Here is a picture of a UAV we saw fly.

We also went to the Brazilian Space Agency and a Brazilian Air Force installation.

We then packed up and flew to Manaus, in the state of Amazonia (marked as #2 on the map). We stayed at a hotel that was a part of the secondary forest, and we learned a little bit about how people live in the forest. The picture above is of a caboclu man making rubber in the traditional way.

We flew back from Manaus and took a break in Paraty (marked as number #3) which is in the state of Rio de Janiero. Paraty is absolutely gorgeous. It has a beach surrounded by mountains that poke out of the water.

The town was an important trading port for the Portuguese up until around 200 years ago when it diminished in importance. As a result, the population diminished and its colonial architecture became frozen in time. This is an aesthetically pleasing result for modern day tourists who are treated to bright vibrant colors on beautiful buildings.

Finally, we drove back from Paraty to the city of Sao Paolo. There were many times on the trip that I was completely exhausted from all the traveling. One of my companions on the trip was able to capture me at one of my finer moments.

Sao Paolo is a gigantic sprawling city. It is a modern city, and I was able to stay in a really really nice hotel with the rest of the group. This is a view from the top of the hotel.

I am currently in Nicaragua, which is marked as #4 on the map. I’ll send you an update in a bit about my trip there. I hope everyone is having a great summer.

Canek Phillips
Sloan Scholar, Engineering Education