Uau!

Alondra Quiles - Brazil


January 23, 2017

Back in the states, it was never really a day by day interaction that I faced with people of different cultures.Yet, at the same time it was.  Although the United States is very diverse, I never really realized how normal it was. In fact, everyone I interacted with was either a Spanish speaker or an English speaker.  Whether I was at school or work or simply running errands finding people speaking Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, English, Chinese, Hindi, French or whatever language it be, it was always just normal. I never really questioned it or even had an interest in learning more about the person because it was a part of my everyday life. I simply accepted it.

 

Then I began to work at the Papelaria with my host mother Maria Jose. Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by people from all parts of the world. Not only traveling but also living in my own community. I found myself surrounded by people from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Senegal, Nigeria, Haití, Italy, Germany and the United States. And truth is, I wouldn’t doubt it if there’s other people from other parts of the world here. But every day in the Papelaria never seems to stop amazing me.

 

I think that the craziest realization that I face every day is just how lucky and blessed I have truly been through my experience here. I don’t wake up and only speak Portuguese throughout my days. I am fortunate enough to be able to also speak my native tongues: Spanish and English. That is what I am most grateful for. The opportunity to share bits and pieces of myself to strangers who gain interest in knowing about me because here i’m not simply just the white-washed Mexican that I was perceived as for such a long time back home. Rather, here in Brazil people refer to me as the Brazilian who lives in California and is a United States citizen and has Mexican parents. And with that reference I always have people saying, “Que legal!” or “How cool!”. That’s what makes this experience so incredible for me.

 

But it’s not only that. Brazil has done so much for me that I hadn’t realized. Every day before I go to sleep I give thanks to God for all that he has given and done for me. Through the UPS and the lows I have overcome it all and I have grown stronger and with more knowledge. I have created dreams and goals that I want to accomplish and know that I can accomplish. I have gained a tremendous support system here and back home that I was not always aware of and I am learning that it’s okay to have to fall back on others sometimes because as much as I wish I was a superwoman, i’m not. Leaving home has been hard, but now I find myself longing to go home with a fear that I’m not aware of how to handle. As I see my own changes and growth, I am afraid to unite with loved ones who have changed as well. I know that I am here for a reason and relationships change but facing them is another challenge that I must prepare for just as saying goodbye to those I have grown close too will be hard.

 

I’m not going to lie though, I’m extremely excited to see where I end up. Whether it’s a few months from now or years, I’m truly excited to see what is in store for me. Two years ago, I never imagined to find myself here in Brazil but look at me now. So i’m ready to face life and to learn and grow. But most importantly, I’m most ready to met new people and to build even more relationships because it’s a gift to grow together, learn together and fail together.

Alondra Quiles