Universidade Anhembi Morumbi (UAM) professors André Hinsberger and Vívian Angélica dos Santos Malva call the program they run in favelas, or slums, in Brazil “citizenship” efforts, rather than just community service. By involving their naturology students from UAM, they are providing not only relief and care to the favelas’ population, but are also educating their students in more than just the skills of their trade. This is service that instructs in citizenship.
The center that the two professors operate in partnership with UAM is called Casa do Zezinho and provides integral health and educational services to the community it serves, including acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and psychology services. Students from UAM perform more than 1,500 consultations a month.
“Our students learn that you are part of the environment you live in, and they can feel that social change can start with them,” Hinsberger said. Learning this mindset had a large effect on Vívian Angélica dos Santos Malva, who is now a professor of applied naturology at UAM but was previously a student at the institution. During her time as a student, she served in Casa do Zezinho, and it was the first place where she had contact with a real patient. The work that the center does became a passion of hers, and when she became a professor at UAM, she started supervising students working in the clinic.
Casa do Zezinho has been in operation for more than 20 years and continues to build new partnerships with a diverse set of actors, including the Brazilian government, large corporations, and other NGOs. But to Hinsberger and Malva, what will always be most important is that their students learn the key tenets of citizenship, while applying their studies in a way that serves.