What is up with Brazil?

Sophie Winter - Brazil


September 26, 2017

As my posts on social media bring on an onslaught of questions about my days, what I am doing in Brazil, why I am taking a gap year, and more. I have realized that I have not disclosed exactly what I am doing living in a foreign world for seven months. 

No it's not to change the world, (not right now at least), no I'm not trying to change my community, nor do I believe in being a “white hero”. My intentions for being here and immersing myself in Brazilian culture is simple. I need to open myself to as many new experiences, languages, smells, tastes and ideas because how can I help a world I don't understand?

If you had asked me my junior year of high school about Brazil, I would have most likely responded with a quote from "Rio" the movie, and say, “they speak Spanish, right?” My knowledge was limited of South America. My knowledge IS limited of the world because I have not lived outside of the United States and Great Britain.

So, inside of my busy days I am learning how people in Garopaba live in communities, where it's one large family. How people take time to have lunch together, dinner together, and are always willing to help. I have learned that people are curious about where I come from, and like junior year Sophie, have incredibly incorrect stereotypes about my world. 

I have realized that just my presence in my community has already broken down walls of stereotypes in nature. While my host family and I were raised in completely separate places, we still love the same, laugh the same, and have the same affinity to dislike Donald Trump and his actions. (A relief for me.)
I work at a place named, Morro de Fortunado. A Quilombo where decendents of slaves and runaways live. I work in agriculture, next to the strong women and men whose ancestors created the space we work in. Morro de Fortunado sits on the side of a steep hill overlooking the ocean, Garopaba, and the neighboring communities. It's a stunning view, and I am lucky to have the chance to learn and grow here.
Every Friday and Saturday there is a farmers market where we sell crops, and handmade jellies locally. Other days we are weeding, or filling out orders for the local schools. I leave my job physically and mentally exhausted, and it's delightfully exciting to shower and sleep. It's great, my learning curve is steep as each day I am surrounded by new words, people, customs and foods. It's a lovely challenge, one that I look forward to accepting over the next seven months. 

Sophie Winter