Courtesy of John Lyda.
John Lyda in Brazil
Councilman John Lyda recently traveled to Brazil to serve internationally on an American Council of Young Political Leaders delegation.
What do you get when you mix an equal number of Democrats and Republicans under the age of 40 who represent varying political interests from all across the United States? The ideal group to serve internationally on an American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) delegation.
The ACYPL was founded in 1966 in an effort to promote international understanding and cooperation with young political leaders throughout the world. Since then, with the financial support of the U.S. State Department and private contributions, ACYPL has sponsored several delegations each year and has made a tremendous, positive impact on countless young political leaders and the constituencies they serve. In January, I was honored to receive a call from ACYPL informing me I had been selected to participate in an exchange to Brazil in April of this year.
Prior to our departure for Brazil, our delegation met for the first time in Washington, D.C., where we were briefed by the State Department, the Brazilian Embassy, and staff from ACYPL. It was a brief introduction to the eight days that would follow and change each of our lives forever. The agenda for each day while in Brazil was packed with meetings that would broaden our horizons on Brazilian government, business and culture. Our delegation would spend two to three days each in the country’s tourism center of Rio de Janeiro, the federal capital of Brasilia, and the economic epicenter of Sao Paulo.
Brazil’s democracy, still in its early stages at 29 years old, is patterned largely after the U.S. with three branches of government. One distinct difference is that Brazil has 32 political parties, and most interesting is that they are not easily distinguishable based on ideology. Rather, the political parties are moderate in nature, identified more by geography and culture.
The sports attention of the world will be focused on Brazil for the next two years as they play host to the three largest sporting events in the world: FIFA World Cup, 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and 2016 Paralympic Games.
Socially, Brazilian people are warm, welcoming, and have no inherent fear of others. They greatly admire America and welcomed our delegation with open arms. Like any society, they are not immune to social issues and challenges, the greatest of which are the favelas. Favelas, dating back 100 years in Brazil, are large clusters of slums often located in the city center that have been inhabited by the poor and handed down for generations. By 2020 the city hopes to have stopped the growth of these communities and decrease the area of the favelas by 5 percent.
I’ll forever look back on our exchange with fondness and gratitude to ACYPL for the opportunity to learn from other leaders both domestically and abroad. Most importantly, I have a renewed sense of honor to serve the citizens of the great city of Hoover and to live in the greatest country in the world, the United States of America.