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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – For freshman university students in Brazil, the beginning of the year often brings with it dangerous and humiliating pranks, with many students forced to shave their heads and ask for money on street corners. A project called Trote do Amor (Prank of Love), however, aims to turn dangerous and demeaning pranks into social actions to help others.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, pranks,"Initiation" pranks at Brazilian universities include shaving heads and being covered with paint,
“Initiation” pranks at Brazilian universities include shaving heads and being covered with paint, photo by Marcos Santos/USP Imagens.

In its second year of being applied in universities around Rio de Janeiro state, this year’s Trote do Amor calls for obtaining donations of food and hygiene products to later be given to institutions which take care of children and the elderly. Last year, the project obtained 5.5 tons of food for donations. This year eleven universities and seventy other educational centers are adopting the project.

“The mission is to transform the way initiation pranks are carried out in Brazil, starting with Rio de Janeiro,” 22-year-old advertising major Marcos Mendes told Agencia Brasil. Last year Mendes gathered some friends from his advertising class at Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing (Advertising and Marketing School) and created the Trote do Amor.

According to Mendes each university pairs up with a charity institution and sponsors a drive to obtain products for that particular institution. The advertising student says that this year not only freshman are adhering to the project but many sophomores, juniors and seniors are coming back to help.

Among the universities participating this year are UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), UFF (Federal Fluminense University), PUC-RJ (Catholic University), IBMEC (Brazilian Institute of Capital Markets) and FGV (Getulio Vargas Foundation).

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