Oxford college sophomore Guilherme Laport has taken the campus by storm. Last year, as a freshman, he never dreamt of how important Oxford would become to him. Currently, Laport serves as the student government association’s president, is a member of the business club, founded a jiu jitsu club, and created his own business with his friends.
Originally from Rio De Janerio, Brazil, Laport was used to a very relaxed way of life. He recalled that during his childhood, he would wake up and go to the beach before school. When comparing his South American lifestyle to his new lifestyle in the American South, he commented that people back in Brazil seemed happier. “I think people [back home] seemed happier because they were more relaxed. It’s the complete opposite in America.”
Another difference between Brazil and the U.S. that Laport pointed out were the gender roles in the countries. Last year, one of Laport’s friends had invited him over for dinner. Laport described his friend as the stereotypical All-American boy. Laport found it odd how his friend’s house had a “man of the house,” and how the whole house seemed to revolve around the power of the father.
“If it were my dad, he would not care. There would be no “father’s chair,” the status would be much more irrelevant. Everything in the house would have a more of a joking matter.” Laport did note the difference between the houses, but he did embrace both cultures and had a wonderful time.
The difference of gender roles between the U.S. and Brazil is something not only to be noted in the household, but in politics as well. The U.S., an older country than Brazil by almost 100 years, recently reached a milestone by electing our first African American president in 2008. However, we have yet to elect a woman. Brazil, a generally young country as well, recently elected their first woman president, Dilma Rousseff, in 2011. The difference in gender roles between the two different countries could possibly attribute to the different levels of progress.
Laport, a business major, recently got involved in school politics when he was elected as the student government’s president last year.
“Originally, I thought it was just a popularity contest, but once I was in, I realized that we [the student government] have so much power to make this campus a better place.”
Laport is always looking to help improve the campus. Last year, he was hit with the expensive reality of buying college textbooks. At first, he was not aware that students would sell used books to other students at a much cheaper price than what the campus’ bookstore or other retailers would sell them for. Laport noticed that students would post Facebook statuses and email conferences about books they were selling. “It was very disorganized and frustrating,” Laport said.
Laport and two of his close friends got together to create Campus MIO, an app that allows students to post their books, pictures of the product, and other information about the product to local buyers to ensure efficient and organized selling among students.
It seems that with everything Laport does, his inner business man comes out. Laport learns and practices the way of a businessman in and out of the classroom constantly, whether it is through Campus MIO, student government, or, his favorite, understanding and learning about new cultures.
During his freshman year, Laport roomed with an international Chinese student. He was so impressed and captivated by the culture that he even joined the school’s Chinese student association. Laport noted that it is important to understand different cultures, especially in business, because, “We are not always going to work with those who think like us and are from the same background.”
Laport has learned just that as he participates in many different activities at Oxford, working together with students of multiple backgrounds in making Oxford a more enjoyable and worthwhile experience for everyone.