Tenzin Gyalmo - Brazil

March 11, 2019

[image: IMG_1616.jpeg]

*Image 1. Laguna (Learning Seminar 2)*

Hello people. I went MIA there for a bit, didn’t I?

It’s March and I can confidently say that I have finally mapped out my

daily routine here. You are right, it is about time isn’t it? I mean I have

been here 7 months, but 7 months went by quicker than I had thought it

would. Don’t we all start out like that? We all begin with the calm, “I

have all the time I need in the world” and then it shifts to “Wait actually

I am half way there. Time does fly.” and then right now I am at the last

stage where we all lose our calm and go “OH MY GOD I have only 3 weeks

left, I need to make a list of things that I haven’t done that I need to do

in these three weekends I have left.” Yes, it never ever changes no matter

the amount of time you have been given, two years, 7 months –

procrastination is crazy present everywhere.

But it is also inevitable when you are in a new city, learning a new

language and volunteering in an area you have no previous knowledge about.

Everything drastically changed for me after the summer break from

mid-November to mid-January. Before the break, I was still struggling

pretty hard with communicating in Portuguese, be it my host family or at my

apprenticeship. I had the knowledge but not the confidence. As for my host

family, I was still figuring out their routines and the family dynamics and

trying to find out where I fit into all that. I loved my apprenticeship but

I still didn’t take on much initiative within it.

However, after I came back from independent travel (To São Paulo and

Salvador) I found my confidence in Portuguese. Talking and being around my

host family actually got easier and more comfortable and work became so

much better. This all happened in February, two months before I leave

Brazil. Frustrating, I know. But like I said it was inevitable. The first

half I was exploring, I was testing out new waters, I was trying to figure

out how I fit into the city and the culture of Brazil. But after spending

some time away from my daily routine, unintentionally I reflected on my

experience in Brazil, and when I got back I had my routine figured out, I

knew what I liked doing and what in this culture I truly connect with. So,

in all honesty, these two months, February and March have been by far the

best months from my entire experience in Brazil.

Now that I am satisfied, and not that lost as I used to be here in Brazil,

I want to share how a normal week in my life looks like.

Monday to Thursday I work (volunteer) at an NGO called ACIC – Associação

Catarinense para Integração do Cego, translated to the Catarinense

Association for the Integration of the Blind. The objective of the

organization is to help integrate people with visual deficiencies

(blind/low vision) into society. They offer various courses like arts and

ceramics to artisanal production courses, to Dance classes, informatics,

and computer courses, to Braille lessons, to support groups with a

psychologist and much more for adults from 15 years of age onward. They

also have a very strong sector for children from ages 1 – 14 with

multi-sensorial sessions, braille lessons, a kid psychologist and mobility

lessons to teach them how to use their canes efficiently.

It is such a beautiful organization with great teachers and students. They

do such meaningful work every day.

I spend my entire day from 9 am to 5 pm (Monday-Thursday) in ACIC, and I am

so glad I do. But what is it I do? To be honest, at first, ACIC seemed like

an organization where everything seemed great and it seemed like they

didn’t need any help at all. It is an NGO that has been up for 41 years!!

So the first two weeks what my supervisor in the NGO (shoutout to

Maristella!) gave me a 90-minute session with each department. I helped out

with every department in the NGO, and after these jam-packed amazing two

weeks we discussed with my then little to no Portuguese what I was most

interested in doing at ACIC. I chose two things – working with kids, and

ceramics. So then we worked out my hours dividing it between the two and I

have had such an amazing time ever since. I assist a ceramics teacher in

her class. I assist her with ceramics, sculpture and painting lessons for

low vision and blind elder students. At CADI (the kids’ department) I

usually substitute absent teachers, and here I have full autonomy over what

activity I want to do with the kids. Usually, I teach them how to play

chess, I might read some books in Portuguese to the young ones or if they

are in their teens we will just talk about music we like etcetera. They

recently have also started to trust me with other work. They once asked me

to sit at the reception and take calls and help students with doubts, it

was great fun. They also invited me next week to the administrative sector

of the NGO to participate in how they work and organize projects, funding,

and sponsors. Working at ACIC is the highlight of my whole GCY gap year.

So spending 8 hours in ACIC I get back home knackered, in a good way. So I

will usually have a relaxed night where I will read something, watch some

tv with my host family or stay on social media for a while (a while lol)

and just head to bed.

*Ceramics Class*

Now on Fridays, I have Portuguese lessons from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. The

mornings I will sleep in or if I feel like it, I will head to Lagoa (where

we have our classes) meet up with some friends and do some Portuguese or

have some Açai (One thing I will miss very much after Brazil). Friday

nights there are usually some events happening in Floripa, so if it’s cool

I will go there with a couple of other fellows. Like last Friday was

International Women’s day and there was a march in the center. It was one

of the most memorable nights I have had, where women and men gathered to

protest for women’s rights, to protest against machismo, racism, fascism,

homophobia and many more. The whole march was filled with powerful chants

and the march exuded so much power and oneness!!! Happy International

Women’s day to all <3

* International Women’s Day (March 8) March*

Now weekends are usually tricky. There is usually not much I want to do on

weekends or too many things to do. There is no in-between. But I will

usually hang out with friends if it is a nice sunny day we would go to a

waterfall or a beach. At nights we will go for forró a type of music with a

very intimate form of dance, its very beautiful. Or maybe head to some kind

of funk party.

If there is an exhibition I will go see that or an event on Facebook that

strikes my fancy. But with the end of my time in Brazil fast approaching I

have made a “Final 3-weeks” bucket list filled with more beaches to visit,

hikes I want to do and places to visit.

* Cachoeira do Poção*

Gaining more confidence in navigating the city alone and some recognizable

proficiency in the language has really helped me try out new things and

have made these two months really memorable. Yes, it is quite late, but

that’s just how it turned out and if I re-did this whole experience I am

positive that it would turn out the same. Any questions? Ask away.

Thank you for reading.

Tenzin Gyalmo