During my short time so far in Brazil I have been through many things that have left me with perspective. A quote that I recently heard, and am always coming to identify with more, is “From the hottest furnaces comes the finest steel”. Challenges have always been a part of everyday life and yield great opportunities for learning, and I am finding the more I am challenged the more powerful the learning experience.
After two of possibly the most eye-opening weeks of my life at Stanford training – where I made great friends – and living and breathing every waking moment of my life with the 11 Brazil Fellows during in-country orientation, the challenges had just begun. I was one of the first Fellows to be sent to my homestay, a familiar place where we spent much of our in-country orientation, The Museum of Imaginary Objects. I felt like I knew what I was getting into after spending so much time there, but it was only a matter of time before this impression was proven an impression by experiencing living there. I found myself trying to fall sleep on the tile floor in one of the exhibit rooms with a small cushion while the live bands on three of the four corners of my block blasted away. On top of this lack of sleep, transitioning and acclimating to the lifestyle of my new host family, which even compared to a “Brazilian family,” seemed even harder to understand, only seemed to be getting more difficult every day.
This museum/university that I lived in is where my host father takes the lead in helping people who wish to learn to liberate themselves of their “colonized lifestyles and mindsets” through vegetarianism, holistic healing, tantric dance and much more. This was very confusing to be surrounded by and even be held to some of the expectations of, especially when I had such difficulty understanding what was happening even if translated. After a while, I built up the courage to accept that I may not be able to acclimate to this lifestyle, so I explained what I was going through, and I asked to move host families.
Coming to the realization that I wasn’t ready to be completely immersed with my first family was one of the hardest challenges I have faced in Brazil so far. Now living in beautiful place in a house that is jutting over the ocean with my host mom who is as caring as I can imagine it gets, I have gotten to remain involved with my previous family on a regular basis. Now that I have been experiencing all they have to offer in more digestible pieces, I am slowly starting to understand their ideologies and lifestyle that have come to truly stretch my mind, perspective, and open doors to new ways of thinking that I never could have imagined. I now have a new respect and hunger to gain a deeper understanding of this new way of thinking that I have but wet my feet in so far, and I would call that some pretty fine steel.