Home Stretch

Maria Nazarova - Brazil


March 17, 2016

As I move into my last month in Brazil, I struggle.

I struggle when people ask me if I am excited to go home because this has become my home. I have routines here, I have friends here, I have a family that takes care of me. I guess I’ve just become accustomed to living here. Waking up and going on a bike ride to start my day, eating lunch and biking to work at the aquarium. These are things that I no longer remind myself to do everyday because they’e become habits.I struggle to come to terms with the fact that I have actually just spent eight months in a foreign country. That I chose to embark on this journey instead of going to college like I had already planned to do. The fact that it is coming to an end so quickly when it feels like just last week I was flying in, wondering what I would be doing with my year.

I struggle to find time for everything that I still want to do here before I leave. All of the people I want to see again and talk to before I never see them again. All of the places I haven’t yet explored in my host community alone, not to mention neighboring cities and the rest of Brazil.
These struggles, however, push me to make the most of the time I have left here. To talk to as many people as I can and learn their stories. To take all the opportunities I have handed to me without fear or apprehension. To give my all in the things that I am doing here.

Within this last month I am letting Brazil leave a lasting mark on me. On how I carry myself, how I act and who I am. It is not one-sided though, I am trying my best to leave my mark upon Brazil as well. Through my interactions with everyone around me and more tangibly through my project that I am doing here in my community.

Another fellow, Indira Patel, and I have decided to create a children’s space in an empty upstairs room at the aquarium we work in. We noticed that there was nothing in the aquarium geared especially towards kids to help them learn about marine life in a more interactive and exciting manner. With some help from a supervisor at the aquarium, scrap wood from my host family’s house, recycled water bottles and some amazing graphic design skills from Indi, we created posters, games and art projects created from recycled materials.

We are currently in the process of printing and mounting all of our creations in the aquarium for use by all of the visitors of the aquarium. I have learned so much and changed so much in Brazil, that I can only hope that this little change will bring the kids that visit the aquarium joy and a fun-filled learning experience.

Maria Nazarova