To the editors:
I must take issue with Aidan E. Tait’s uninformed and misleading depiction of the Harvard Summer School’s program in Rio de Janeiro ("More to Life Than Harvard," op-ed, Sept. 18). When I participated in the program in 2006, our class activities included visits to cultural centers, historic parts of the city, and even to a non-governmental organization that works with children from impoverished neighborhoods of Rio’s Zona Norte. In no way was the program "devoid of the striking diversity so emblematic of Rio."
Furthermore, Harvard’s relationship with Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) is a very productive one: Several students from the 2006 program have gone on to spend whole terms studying at the university. PUC deserves no more criticism for being a private rather than public institution than Harvard does. In addition, the Office of International Programs and other sources of funding at Harvard provide grants to reduce the $5,500 cost—which includes a package of tuition, housing, activities, and weekend excursions—for most participants.
The Summer School program in Rio is clearly meant as an introduction to Brazil, and many students participate to further their language skills and to prepare for future work or study in the country.
ADAM R. SINGERMAN ’09
September 19, 2007
The writer participated in the Harvard Summer School program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2006.