Oi e bem-vindo! (Hi and welcome!) My name is Chris Iba and welcome to my blog! To give you some background on me, I am a high school graduate who wanted to do something different with my life, something unconventional. However, this was not always what I wanted to do. Four years ago, I was an average student, blind of the foreign world and its diverse cultures, religions, and languages. This all changed when I enrolled in a program called Modeled United Nations. Unaware of the world beyond Huntington Beach, this one class taught me more about myself, my community, and my interactions with others, than any other. It truly opened my eyes to the international community and made me want to truly understand the culture of different groups of people. So, I took a leap of faith and decided to take a bridge year with Global Citizen Year to discover the stories, culture, language, and beauty of Brasil! And here I am!


I am a Brazil fellow living in a town called Garopaba in the state of Santa Catarina. I live in a neighborhood called Encantada which is about a 20-minute drive south from Centro or downtown. I live with an awesome family. My host father’s name is Brummell. He is from Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, but moved to Garopaba after he had my host sister and realized how dangerous Rio was becoming. Brummell is also a civil engineer. He is divorced, but his wife lives across the street and they are still good friends. Her name is Cristina and she is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She treats my as her own son and is always looking out for me. My host sister’s name is Brunna. She is 25 and is working with my host father and caring for her son, Vincenzo who is 6. Vincenzo or Vico is a little rascal. He’s super sweet and full of energy, but can be hard to deal with sometimes. Finally, I have a host brother who lives in Florianopolis which is the capital of Santa Catarina and is about 1 hour away. He is 18 and just got back from Michigan. He is currently studying for the SAT equivalent in Brasil so he can attend UFSC, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina. Also, my entire family loves to surf and has traveled the world in search for the best surf spots!


My apprenticeship is to help Professor João at the Instituto Federal de Santa Catarina Campûs Garopaba.  IFSC is a federally run education institution that can best be described as a set of 23 vocational schools that are scattered around the state of Santa Catarina. My campus focuses on cross curriculum courses that mix Microbiology, Biochemistry, Environmental Science, Technology, and Tourism. We are currently working on three projects. The first is to help prepare the first degree program at the campus. Currently you can only take semester or yearlong courses, but the institution wants to create a four-year graduation course. It is going to be called Technology in Sustainable Development and I am aiding in the creation of the curriculum as well as spreading the word about the program.  The second project that I am working on is to help my professor create an app to monitor the right whales. This is a type of whale that travels from Antarctica to the beaches of Garopaba in order to mate. Whale watching is an important tourist aspect of the town and brings in a substantial amount of income however, we do not know the patterns of their mating locations which makes it hard to guarantee that tourists will even see a whale during a whale watching session. The final project that I am working on is creating Digital Elevation Models of the nearby beaches. Currently the only type of maps of the ocean depths are those made by fisherman that are not very comprehensible.


This pretty much sums up my current situation in Brasil. From now on, I will be focusing on more specific topics for my blog posts, but I thought that giving you all a general overview of what my year is looking like would help you visualize the reality that I am living in.


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