“You are babies,
in the first week you are observing so to understand,
in the second week you are taking your first steps,
and in the third week you will say your first words”
– Marcos, host father of Maria in Curitiba.
On my third day in Brazil, I travelled in three overcrowded buses for two hours, and I was frustrated. I was frustrated because I did not understand anything around me: how to get on the bus, how it works, where I was going, what people were saying and how I was going to do this everyday for the next three weeks.
Luckily, Marcos (host father of Maria during ICO) was there to help Maria and myself get home. He noticed our frustration and reminded us that this was only our first week born as a Brazilian baby. He taught us that we aren’t meant to understand yet, we were only meant to observe and learn. To me, his words symbolise this past month of fellow training.
My first learning came from understanding my own and the organisations reasons for this bridge year. I had many great sessions and activities at pre-departure training in California in the Red Woods and at Stanford. I learnt that this year is about being, learning, reflecting and sharing a local view of a new community. That I am here to collaborate and not compete with locals to create wealth of experience for all involved. This is because we believe that talent is distributed equally unlike opportunity.
My first Brazilian baby steps came in understanding the art of just being in a new community. This took place during in country orientation in Curitiba, south Brazil. Through many difficulties (such as taking the bus with no Portuguese) and sessions, I learnt the reality of how difficult it may be to integrate into this new Brazilian culture. To help us ingrate we learnt about the importance of “service learning not learning service”, and how we must change our outlook towards having a growth mind–set and not a fixed one. We were taught that when faced with difficult situations we should empathise and not sympathise with others, and that curiosity should always come before judgement. One worry I had for this year was being susceptible to comparing my life to others, and perhaps doubting my path However, we learnt that ¨comparison is the thief of joy¨. So if I am to fully ´be´ in this bridge year, I must be present in and grateful for everything around me.
My first Brazilian baby words came during immersion week at my new home in . is a small beach town located in the state of Santa Catarina, south Brazil. Best known as a tourist surf town in summer, it is to me known as a close town built on community spirit with traditional fishing and flour milling. My first week was packed full of new activities, scenery and feeling as though I have said ‘oi ‘ (hey nice to meet you) to more than one hundred people. All of this plus the amount of new Portuguese I had learnt, at times left me tired and confused. However, now is the time that I learn to connect and apply my first learnings, steps and words as a Brazilian baby to become a Brazilian child. In other words, it is time to get into the grit of why I am here: to think local and to act global. I will try to move forward with one question in mind which I learnt in order to help my daily life here. The question looks not to search for the meaning of life, but instead focuses on: how can I make my life meaningful?
My story so far:
August 19th to August 27th: during this time I was at Pre-departure training in California. This was a smashing event full of great stories, games and food. I was able to spend time with the global cohort and make some great friends. Friends that I will meet at the end of the year and see how we have grown.
August 27th to September 25th: this time was In Country Orientation in Curitiba. I stayed with a lovely host family who taught we all my first things about Brazil. We travelled to falls de Iguaçu and climbed mountains together. During these days, we fellows would travel to International School to have language classes and a joint students where we shared our cultures.
September 25th to now: now I have arrived at my home the next seven months in . I am working at two different placements, the first is at a government school called Federal Santa Catarina, where I help a professor with his work, lead conversational English classes and help with their events in the community. The second is at , a day centre for children and Adults with disabilities, I help out with a gardening project and with daily activities. I am loving the lifestyle here so far and I even get to do Capoeira, a traditional martial art, music and dance three days a week with my Capoeira–talented host sister, .
To Maria, Eduardo and all the fellows who have made this training month great.
To Debora and Wellington, my host parents in Curitiba. You made the three weeks so insightful and fun. for your wisdom and introducing me to pizza.
To my host family, Tania, Elliot, , Karina and Dodo, for being so welcoming and fun to be around.