Luísa Soares, Writer


As an exchange student and a person who has lived outside the United States almost my whole life, I believe it’s really important to pay attention to what’s going on in the news around the world.

In Brazil, we usually compare ourselves to the “American way of life” because it’s a pattern followed by a lot of countries in several aspects such as entertainment and politics. Being aware about US elections, Democratic and Republican parties, is basic knowledge to have, especially if you want to become a journalist.

In the U.S when I talk to people about Brazil, I have to explain a lot of the time that we speak Portuguese and not “Brazilian.” I feel a void sometimes and in order to explain what’s going on in my country, I always use American references.

For example, to talk about the new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, I refer to him as the “Brazilian Donald Trump,” so in this way, people will understand how terrible he is. I speak with people in this way because I am not sure if they think Brazil is important in the world scenario, since we are not the biggest economy or country.

A study by National Geographic in 2016 with 1,203 young adults between 18-to-26-year-olds, who attend or have attended a two-or four-year college in the U.S., helps address my point. According to the survey, most young Americans couldn’t pass a test with 75 questions about geography, current events, and economics and trade. The average score was just 55 percent, which means a failing grade in most U.S. classrooms.

The research also showed gaps between what they understand about the world and what they need to know about it. As an example, there is a grasp on concepts like the importance of the U.S. dollar and the structure of the United Nations.

It’s hard to pay attention to everything that is going on around the world because we have so many ways of keeping ourselves updated. In the past, we didn’t have social media and presidents speaking through this channel like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro do now. In the past we counted on press releases or newspapers to do that. Nowadays, there is a huge amount of information, so sometimes we don’t know where to look or which source is more reliable.

This leads us to another issue named “fake news.” As a journalism student, I try to help friends and family to distinguish what’s true and what’s not. The problem is that several of my friends who are not part of a media degree don’t believe when I say some media companies are good and others are bad.

This deficit in knowledge and trust in the media’s role can reflect a person’s political decisions in election period. No one can ignore what’s going on in the world because it affects us on topics such as global warming, access to clean water and poverty. We might not see the impacts right now but they are there and sometimes worse than before.