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blake traeger, brazil, 2014-2015

There can be no doubt that Brazil is an emerging global power and is a valued trading partner with the United States, although that relationship isn’t without some tensions. Political analysts and consultants that can help maintain balance will be key to fostering the connection in the future, and UGA Honors student Blake Traeger hopes to find his way to the table.

While spending 10 months in Brazil next year for his Boren Scholarship, Blake will learn Portuguese in two entirely different environments.

The sophomore, majoring in international affairs and Portuguese at UGA, plans to spend time in the company of Brazilian students studying Portuguese literature and history at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNSEP) in Sao Paulo, the world’s ninth-largest city.

After a semester in classrooms, Blake will then transition into an internship with a yet-to-be determined Brazilian company. While he didn’t know his specific assignment in the summer, Blake says he looks forward to “learning professional vocabulary for international relations in a real-world environment.”

“This internship, combined with my study abroad, will teach me how to interact, live, and work in Brazil,” Blake, who in 2012 studied for six weeks in China thanks to a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Scholarship, says. “This experience will be invaluable as I will then be able to identify with other Brazilians working in similar situations and the problems they face on a day-to-day basis. This understanding will translate to a more accurate analysis of the public mindset.”

A member of UGA’s club tennis, swimming, and ballroom dance teams and a voice in the University Chorus, Blake says he most looks forward to living the life of a Brazilian.

“The part of my Boren year abroad that most excites me is the opportunity to encounter new cultures,” he says. “I have always had a fascination with other cultures -- why do they do the things they do, what makes this certain holiday special, how does this aspect of their culture impact their day-to-day thinking? I am hopeful that with this knowledge of the Brazilian culture I will be able to more easily relate to them in the future.”

With career plans that include serving as a government specialist focused on Brazil/U.S. relationships, Blake believes his Boren experience will be paramount to his professional goals.

“As a Boren scholar who has studied in Brazil, I will be uniquely suited to work as a political analyst for the CIA, protecting America’s trade interests with Brazil and ensuring that the U.S. government understands Brazil’s likely response to any U.S. actions, hoping to avoid misunderstandings and maintain national security,” Blake says.

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