Saying Goodbye

I thought I’d be ready to leave when April rolled around. I thought I’d be
excited to come home, to leave Brazil, to start a new chapter. But, I am
not ready nor excited. I feel like a toddler who’s about to throw a tantrum
and scream “Give me one more month! Just give me April here, and I swear
I’ll come home”. Everything here feels so unfinished and incomplete, and I
have just found my groove. My Portuguese is getting better, I am enjoying
my apprenticeship and implementing my final community project, and I am
connecting with the people and culture of Brazil in a way that I wasn’t
before. I can’t say goodbye yet. I just need one more month before I leave
my life here as if it wasn’t my life. I need one more month before this
experience follows me around like a shadow I don’t know quite how to
explain. Just one more month to process the highs and lows of this time and
come to peace with it. I am not ready to go home yet. “Home” isn’t even
home anymore. If here is home, what is there? And if there is home, what is
here? We do all of this training and preparation, but no one ever says
“Hey, just remember you have to say goodbye to all of this in seven months
and move on with your life”. They talk about re-entering and re-acclimating
to life back home, but there was never a seminar on how to say goodbye. I
just need one more month. One more month to settle everything, to say
goodbye, to express my gratitude for a place which has taught me so much.
Just one more month. In two weeks, everything will be gone and different,
and I still won’t know how to say goodbye or adequately sum up this
experience in a nice little blog post. That is the great lie of Global
Citizen Year. They promise you an experience, a life-changing bridge year,
lessons you couldn’t learn anywhere else, and they deliver. But they never
say how hard it is to leave it all. They shroud the pain of saying goodbye
in colorful photos, pretty sentiments, and cheerful blog posts. I am not
ready to say goodbye, not yet. So, for now, I’ll say thank you instead.

My host family: Thank you for accepting me into your home. Thank you for
having faith and allowing a teenager from half-way around the world into
your lives. I experienced Brazilian life through yours, and you were
nothing but gracious as I adjusted and struggled. Despite cultural
differences and bumps on the road, I know I leave Brazil with a second
family. So thank you for your love, patience, and support.

My apprenticeship: Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for taking me in
and showing me your work, your organization, and your passion. You were
open to my ideas, my concerns, and my questions. Never did I feel like an
outsider working with you. And, even though communication and organization
lacked at points, it is through your project I have learned about Brazil
and its complex socio-economic issues. Thank you for giving me another lens
through which to see the world.

My Team Leader: Chris, thank you for being anything and everything
throughout this experience. Your guidance, whether it was about my host
family or apprenticeship or about Brazilian culture, was invaluable. I know
that whenever I need support or advice you will be there. This experience
was defined by your willingness to lead, to help, and to push, and I know
not only have I gained a mentor but a friend as well. Thank you.

Brazil: Every step is different and unsteady with you. Once I think I have
something, you have another surprise waiting around the corner. To attempt
to summarize all you have taught me over these past seven months, all I
have learned about myself, all I have discovered here, would be an
injustice. I will never be able to adequately explain all you have given
and taken during this time. All I can say is thank you. Thank you to the
warmth of the Brazilian people where I was always treated as family never
as a stranger. Thank you to the vibrancy of Brazilian culture. I have
learned to dance, to talk, and to live more brightly and to exude passion
in everything I do. Thank you to the Brazilian cuisine for getting me
hooked on acai, pastels, brigadeiros, fresh juice, rice and beans, requeijão,
and pretty much everything else. Brazil, thank you for teaching me to walk
through the world with an open mind. You have no idea how much I’ll miss
you (mas, não fica preocupado porque já volto, tá )