Law SchoolPersonalities

A Duck Abroad: Arsénio Rodney Gonçalves Lampião’s journey from Africa to Eugene

Arsénio Rodney Gonçalves Lampião is pursuing his master’s degree in law at University of Oregon. In his free time, he edits drafts for a book he’s writing on moot courts (simulated trials), practices English (which he just learned in 2012) and speaks at legal conferences.

His journey to UO from his hometown of Inhambane in Mozambique has been an interesting one, filled with tests and achievements.

And luckily, no crocodiles.

Lampião’s close friend, Brady Holyrod has plenty of great stories to tell, but this one is his favorite: “We went on a rafting trip to the Rogue River on the first weekend of school,” said Holyrod. “Arsénio was hesitant to swim and wouldn’t go in the water until we assured him there were no crocodiles.”

In his hometown, he taught as a professor and worked with students who were part of moot court programs. Each year, 50 countries compete in a simulated trial with real world problems.

Lampião led his school to victory and was recognized as the represented professor. Before teaching, however, he won his own moot case in 2010.

But he said his most defining moment was when he was accepted into law school in his country.

“We only have one public law school. I remember when I applied they said they only have 60 spots and over 6,000 students were applying. We had to take a national exam that was very competitive. When I found out I finished in third place, I felt I had achieved my greatest accomplishment, but I knew this was only the beginning,” he said.

Lampião’s friend, Chris Beattie, describes him as humble over his many accomplishments.

“As a Fulbright scholar pursuing his L.L.M., Arsénio brings much needed class to the U of O,” said Beattie. “He always dresses to impress, and has a dedication to education that is second to none.”

After earning his degree in law at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique and a postgraduate in energy law at Institut International des Droits de l’Homme in France, he decided he wanted to pursue his masters at UO.

“I have been here eight months and the people are fantastic. You can have a trusting conversation with anyone here, anywhere,” said Lampião. “I think the shock when you travel abroad to my country is that we are very warm people also. They will talk to you and kiss you on the face the first time you meet them.”

Even though he is far from home, he keeps up with hometown news and is very passionate about his country that he hopes to someday work for.

“I love my country. I always try to change this image of poverty because everywhere you turn on TV and in campaigns about Africa they never show happy or healthy kids. They always construct a very negative image of my continent, but of course there are many good things happening too,” he said.

Lampião hopes to return to his country someday and use his knowledge and experience he gained abroad to better his country.

“My goal is to work for Africa and help other countries to achieve sustainable development,” he said. “I would like to help them explore resources and develop, but also to protect the environment — that’s the goal.”

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Sarah Vella-Labrador

Sarah Vella-Labrador