Saying Goodbye

Sophie Auvin - Brazil

March 21, 2019

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 )

Sophie Auvin