The American Political Process

The American Political Process

The American Political Process

The American Political Process

Excerpt

In the Autumn of 1961 Harvard University was asked to organize an orientation program for seventy-five Brazilian student leaders being sent to the United States by the Cultural Union of São Paulo and the Department of State. The Office of Latin American Studies at Harvard arranged for four of us, specialists in American studies, to work with these students during the ten days they were to be in Cambridge.

When we began to prepare the program, we discovered that there were no suitable texts either in Portuguese or English. Such books of readings as existed were designed for college courses or, at the very least, assumed some specialized knowledge on the part of the reader. While we could expect the Brazilian students to be intelligent and well-informed about Brazil, we had to assume that they would know almost nothing about how the United States had grown, what its culture was, or how its democracy or economic system worked. To meet their needs, we felt we should put together four entirely new volumes containing basic readings.

When the Brazilian students arrived, these volumes were not yet ready. The four of us circulated some of the readings among them. We also talked with them at length and tried to answer their questions and find out what about the United States interested and puzzled them.

We are not sure yet what effect our teaching may have had. Among those hostile to the United States, we did not look for conversion. What we hoped was merely that all of them would go home knowing more about America, unable any longer to voice oversimplifications, and to this extent we think we did succeed. In any event, we hope that these four volumes, with their introductions, will enable others to undertake similar ventures.

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