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Cultural collaboration comes to life through music

August 31, 2015
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Mitacs Globalink intern at SFU uses her research to connect schoolchildren across continents

Laise Barbosa gets a glimmer in her eye when she reflects on her research at Simon Fraser University this summer. As an education student and avid musician from Universidade de Brasilia in Brazil, Laise was excited to combine her two passions under one research project with Dr. Susan O’Neill at Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education for her 12-week project in Canada.

In collaboration with university researchers and a high school classroom in her native Brazil, Laise and her SFU professor facilitated cross-continental music lessons with Canadian students in grades 3–6 and Brazilian students in grades 7–12 through video conferencing. Working in tandem with researchers at a Brazilian university, they are interested in understanding how students from each country came to better understand the other’s culture, developed social awareness, and fostered creativity as a result of the music lessons. They hope to publish the results of their research in the coming months.

The collaboration has opened up a whole new set of opportunities for Laise. She has been invited to collaborate with her research counterparts in Brazil this fall as she completes her undergraduate studies at home. This will help to extend and prepare for future iterations of the research project beyond the initial 12 weeks that Laise spent in Canada.

She also plans to come back to Canada for graduate school next year: “I would really like to come back through the Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship,” she says with a smile. “And, my professor has promised to help me in any way she can so I can come back!”

The experience apart from her research has been equally as breathtaking for her. “Vancouver, which is nearby, is a lovely city. And SFU has a beautiful campus. My favourite part is to walk the trails around Burnaby Mountain Park and visit the rose gardens that overlook the Burrard Inlet.” Day trips in her off-hours with fellow interns have taken her to Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver, and to hiking trails in nearby Whistler.

“Mitacs Globalink makes an environment for us to learn from our professors and researchers, but also from each other. I truly believe that the friendships and connections I have made during my internship will last me forever.”