ABOUT TIME…

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