By Rujen, Tufts 1+4 Participant
After spending two and a half months in Florianopolis, I finally got the opportunity to leave my state, Santa Catarina. Our next training seminar was scheduled in Morretes, a historic city in the state of Parana. This was the first time I got the chance to spend some time out of my host family’s house. I was really excited for it, partly due to the fact that I could meet all my friends and mostly because I was leaving everything behind for a week.
We left Florianopolis at around 8am that day. After a long six-hour bus ride, we arrived at Curitiba, the capital of Parana. At Curitiba, we explored the famous Jardim Botânico and played some fun games inside its premises. We spent the night there in Curitiba and were ready for our visit to Morretes. Even though the bus ride to Morretes from Curitiba was only an hour, we took a four-hour train to enjoy the amazing landscapes, rich animal and vegetation biodiversity, canyons, gorges and waterfalls of the Serra do Mar. I felt that I was in the ‘real’ Brazil then.
After arriving in Morretes, we went straight to our hotel for lunch. The hotel was splendid with all the facilities that I could ever think of. It had sauna, swimming pools, soccer fields, a pool table and lots of board games. Above all, we got free time for the whole of the evening. I played soccer, swam in the pool, enjoyed the sauna, learned to play poker and pool, all on the same day. I would not have got these opportunities back in Floripa, so I wanted to take advantage of them. Over the next week days, we had many orientation sessions along with entertaining activities. We recalled our accomplishments from the past few months by hearing stories from different perspectives. We also planned our goals for the upcoming months. We had a competitive debate on voluntourism in which I got the opportunity to express my views. We learned how to make Farofa (a Brazilian toasted flour mixture) from cassava. We visited an alumni’s host family and apprenticeship to get an idea about the strong bond that we create. On the last night, we had our Thanksgiving dinner which was a new festival for me.
While returning from Morretes, I felt how tired I was. I had spent a whole week out of Florianopolis without my host family and apprenticeship. However, as I entered my city, I could see the famous bridge again. I felt a sense of relief. I could see the blue-striped public buses carrying passengers as usual and as I entered one, I could hear the ‘ding’ sound of the bus whenever any passenger exited. I was stuck on a traffic on the same road as before. As I entered my neighborhood, I could see the daycare where I worked. The same kid with whom I used to play was crossing the road. I got off the bus on my stop and started walking. On my way, the dog, which I had named ‘Bark’, barked at me this time as well. At last, I arrived at my host family’s house. Nothing had changed. But for the first time, I felt like it was my home. I had missed my home-sweet-home.