Karyn Miller

Originally from London, England, Karyn now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina where her varied interests include cooking, running, singing, and writing. She served as the Associate Editor for her school’s newspaper and held a lead role in the school band as a clarinet player. Karyn also volunteered with Helping Horse, a local therapeutic riding program, throughout high school. She has been fortunate enough to travel a lot growing up, giving her an international perspective that she is excited to expand upon in the coming year.


Two Sides of Death

At the last GCY Brazil monthly meeting, we commenced as we always do: went around and told a high point and a low point of the last month in our homestays. Somewhat overly emotional, I couldn’t keep the tears from falling as I said that my high and low point were probably wrapped up in…

20 March, 2011


I now know the full process of making farinha, and have participated in almost all of it. It all begins with a field, a tractor, a plow, and some manioc seeds. The plantation process  I have not witnessed or been part of yet, but word has it that I will get the opportunity before I…

19 March, 2011


On January 15, I think I learned more about Nova Suica in one day than I did over the course of the two months prior. It began when I arrived at the settlement school to greet a group of Brazilian university students who were arriving for a 10-day program. I found the school empty but…

18 March, 2011


I looked out over the fields of Nova Suica, empty but for the occasional bull, the lights of the houses glowing in the distance. The night chill had already set in, but I resisted putting on my jacket for fear that when it got colder, I’d be out of options. And it would almost certainly…

17 March, 2011

Azeite de Dende

We were at the health post, handing out bottles to those who were interested in buying. “10 reais for one liter? Really?” “You kidding? Smell it. Flavored, washed with spring water, mashed by hand—and with an American helper? How often does that happen?” This was the basic negotiation going on—I was being used as part…

17 March, 2011

Health Agent

I’ve never really had any interest in public health. I didn’t know anything about it—I knew that functional systems were in place in numerous countries but that they ran the risk of providing poor care or not having enough capacity. And so, while I marveled at the idea of free health care, the little I…

10 February, 2011


A student from Salvador asked me, while we were conversing about why exactly I’m in Nova Suica, what I bring to the community. At our first monthly meeting, during our Portuguese check-up with Marcelo, he asked us how we think we can contribute to bettering our communities. A doctor from the health post in Santo…

04 January, 2011

Raspando Manioca

Hoje, eu raspei manioca. Today, I peeled manioc root. It was a very MST day—perhaps more so than any I’ve had yet. It was laundry day, because it was water day. Translation? We washed clothes and sheets with the water in the storage tank on one side of the house, and then transferred water from…

04 January, 2011


It’s been interesting living with the MST this past month or so: regional and state meetings (which were full-on weekend events), occupation of the town hall of Santo Amaro (one of the guys working there and living in an assentamento was not promoting the interests MST, apparently), occupation of new land (essentially seizing new land…

25 December, 2010


A few things I’m realizing will be a normal part of my life for the next 5 months: Every rooster in the settlement having a cockadoodldooing competition at all hours of the night Every dog in the settlement simultaneously breaking out in a chorus of shrieking and barking—also at all hours of the night The…

09 December, 2010

Two Views of the Bay

“I think you’ll find that if there’s one word to describe Brazil, it’s dichotomy,” Tony told us. Last Monday, the Brazil fellows visited a neighborhood in Salvador called Massaranduba, where we saw the last remaining palafitas, or water slums. We wound our way down dirt roads, between bare but solid brick homes, and past a…

27 October, 2010

Familia Brasileira

Piled in the van on the way from the Salvador airport, I just remember Tony turning to us and saying, “Okay guys, we’re going to spend a night at this house, get showered, get dinner, and cover some logistics. Tomorrow, we’ve got to get up nice and early to go to your orientation and meet…

11 October, 2010

Discovering Capoeira

“Hoje a noite, nos vamos ver capoeira com Tony.” I told my host mother in choppy, simplistic Portuguese. “Tonight, we go to see capoeira with Tony.” She smiled, “Ah…capoeira, sim!” Yes. If you don’t know what capoeira is, I highly suggest a YouTube search. But here’s a little background: First, you should know that Salvador,…

08 October, 2010


There are a few key ideas I’ve picked up on over the course of the past two weeks: Open-mindedness This was our advice to ourselves from the beginning of the training, and it was frequently echoed by speakers and staff. It’s a fundamental part of immersing yourself in a new culture: a willingness to hear…

04 October, 2010

Above the clouds

Yesterday, I woke up at the idyllic Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, CA, at 6:30am and set off on my morning jog over the steep hills of the complex in the chilly dawn air, camera in hand. A few ups and downs through the prickly hay and thistle brought me to the peak…

20 September, 2010

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Karyn Miller