In May, 45 North­eastern stu­dents from many dis­ci­plines will embark on a cul­tural immer­sion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, through the university’s Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram. But first, the stu­dents were treated to a unique pre-​​orientation to the country’s his­tory, pol­i­tics and social fabric from Ambas­sador Fer­nando de Mello Bar­reto, Consul Gen­eral of Brazil in Boston.

Bar­reto, a diplomat and former lawyer who has served as the Brazilian ambas­sador to Aus­tralia, met with stu­dents on Thursday evening in the Behrakis Center. His lec­ture spanned the country’s polit­ical his­tory to its economy, and he fielded ques­tions on issues such as higher edu­ca­tion, industry, social class and even the infra­struc­ture being built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

When asked about how the country — con­sid­ered one of the world’s top emerging mar­kets — has diver­si­fied its renewable-​​energy invest­ments, Bar­reto par­tic­u­larly noted how the country’s car man­u­fac­turers have devel­oped flexible-​​fuel vehi­cles that can run on dif­ferent blends of gaso­line and ethanol.

This is a booming industry,” he said of renew­able energy. “It pro­vides a lot of jobs because there’s a market. It’s consumer-​​driven.”

Northeastern’s Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram takes stu­dents all around the world to con­nect with their peers in dif­ferent national, cul­tural, polit­ical and social envi­ron­ments, and pro­vides a unique global expe­ri­ence that builds upon and enhances their aca­d­emic studies and training at North­eastern. The experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­ni­ties incor­po­rate meet­ings with local gov­ern­ment leaders, com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions and their peers on var­ious topics, aca­d­emic course­work and a variety of lec­tures, site visits and cul­tural events.

This summer, more than 1,000 stu­dents will par­tic­i­pate in 46 Dia­logue pro­grams worldwide.

Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of the Col­lege of Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties, offered wel­come remarks to the group of stu­dents, noting the impor­tance of global learning in the North­eastern stu­dent expe­ri­ence. The dean, along with fac­ulty mem­bers Simone Elias and Thomas J. Vicino, pre­sented Bar­reto with a North­eastern plaque to rec­og­nize the impor­tance of devel­oping strong rela­tion­ships between the U.S. and Brazil.

Elias and Vicino will lead the Dia­logue pro­gram in Rio de Janeiro, which will run from May 5 to June 5. As part of stu­dents’ cul­tural immer­sion, they will take lan­guage and polit­ical sci­ence classes at the Brazil-U.S. Insti­tute, con­duct field visits to major com­pa­nies and par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity ser­vice projects.

Brazil is a 21st-​​century global leader — polit­i­cally, eco­nom­i­cally and envi­ron­men­tally,” said Vicino, assis­tant pro­fessor of polit­ical sci­ence. “Our stu­dents are global entre­pre­neurs, and the Brazil Dia­logue is a first-​​rate experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­nity for them.”

Simone Elias, Por­tuguese lan­guage coor­di­nator, said, “North­eastern stu­dents have a strong com­mit­ment to learning the Por­tuguese lan­guage, which pro­vides for excel­lent inte­gra­tive learning expe­ri­ence in Brazilian society.”

Richard Greer, a freshman who is pres­i­dent of the Por­tuguese Cul­ture Club, is one of the stu­dents par­tic­i­pating in the Dia­logue pro­gram. He said Barreto’s visit was an incred­ible jump-​​start to the pro­gram, which he noted includes stu­dents from numerous areas of study.

We have a very diverse group of stu­dents par­tic­i­pating,” he said. “We hope to learn all about what life is like in Rio de Janeiro, and bring these expe­ri­ences back to Northeastern.”