Familial Introductions

By Savion Sample

I sat alone in the living room, laptop in front of me, watching my hands do their little “dance” in place on my keyboard – a new hand-fidget I’ve unconsciously started to do ever since arriving to Brazil, and seems to happen only when I get too nervous. I’ve come to call it the quick-fidgety-tapping-on-the-keyboard-keys-so-that-it-produces-a-somewhat-audible-noise-without-actually-pressing-down-on-the-keys sound. It’s hard to pinpoint why this has started happening, but I think it’s because I no longer have my friends, my family, and the comfort of my home at the end of the day to fall back on when I get anxious, so these odd little habits spawn as a way to cope instead.

So, why was I so nervous? Because it was the day that I was finally supposed to introduce both my families to one another, my Brazilian one and my American one. I’m a person who likes to keep different parts of my life very separate from each other. I act very different around my friends, as I do with my family. The way I act depending on the social groups in my life is very different, so the fact that two very important pieces of my life were about to come together was a very strange feeling for me. What would they think of each other? What would they say? What would they say about me? What if they don’t get along? All these questions were hurtling through my head, which only made my hand fidgeting intensify. Continue reading

A Week Out of Home-Sweet-Home

By Rujen Amatya

 

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. 

Continue reading

Bleached Hands and Backflips

By Trevor Hall

Bleach is for clothes. Not for hair.

At least this is what I thought until today. As I rest my body against this hard bus seat, I reek of bleach. My hands are stained in the best way they have ever been before. Thirty minutes ago, I dyed my hair for the first time. Exhilaration runs through my body because I have checked another box off my bucket list. I am not even sure if I am on the right bus right now, but I don’t care. 10:08 reads across my red Lacoste watch. It’s peaceful, and as I look outside the window the dense shadows blend in with the darkness. Usually, I’m super stressed out on the bus, always checking my surroundings and GPS to ensure I am not on track for getting lost. Tonight, though, is a different night. On this evening in southern Brazil, I have forgotten all the negative possibilities. I have embraced my bleached hands and open my memory to backflips a week ago.

The water around me is covered in divots from the rain. The heavy clouds and the lagoinha (a small lake) that surrounds me are postcard-perfect. The paddleboard below me nudges me forward. As my mind wanders off into nothingness, I think about how I don’t know how to execute a backflip. But I figure it is a phenomenal time to learn—in the rain while paddleboarding. I am already soaked like a soggy sponge from the rain. And even if I don’t land it, the lake water would brace my landing. Hopefully…
Eventually, I conjure up the courage to push off.

Splosh. Continue reading

Pancakes…?

By Sophie von Muench

In the kitchen of my host family’s house, I happily fiddled with the proportions of ingredients and flipped pancakes in a small pan. For a second, I was brought back home as I heard an echo of my grandma’s voice in my head from the first time we ever made pancakes together. It was a month into my time living in Brazil, and I had yet to see a single one — apparently, pancakes as we know them are a purely American phenomenon. Thus, I was determined to make these perfect, complete with authentic New York maple syrup from my town’s local farmers’ market, and I was excited to share a little piece of my life at home with my Brazilian family. They were incredibly confused about the maple syrup (“what do you mean it comes from trees?!”) and were watching my every move, trying to craft a recipe to write down from my unscientific fiddling. Finally, I proudly set the stack of golden pancakes on the table with the bottle of maple syrup next to it, and stepped back to admire the scene. I gleefully awaited the moment of revelation when my new Brazilian family tried ‘real’ pancakes for the first time.

A minute later, I was motionless with my mouth gaping open and my eyes popping out of my head. My host dad had plopped a pancake onto his son’s plate, added a spoonful of meat, a little broccoli, topped it off with a sprinkle of cheese, and proceeded to roll the pancake into a taco. I realized I was holding my breath, and let it out in a big burst of laughter. Soon the small kitchen was filled with chuckles as my host dad laughed at how different our ideas of pancakes were, my host sister giggled at her pancakes falling apart (they were not designed to be rolled!), my host brother laughed at my amazement, and I laughed out of pure astonishment at what they were doing to my beautiful pancakes. The show-and-tell about American culture turned Brazilian in the 30 seconds it took my host dad to assemble the first pancake taco. The pancakes we had that day were neither completely American nor completely Brazilian, but a hilarious mixture that I look back on with the same warm amusement I associate with my favorite memories of home.

Because Why Not?

By Leonardo Ruiz-Sanches

It has been 2 months since I’ve landed in Brazil, but it feels like it was just yesterday that I was preparing myself for the ten-hour flight from Houston to São Paulo. I am finding it extremely difficult to accurately sum it all up. There have been many ups and some downs. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions: saudades, frustration, happiness, exhaustion, all packed into a small period of time. Constantly, there is something amazing happening. It could be anything from paddle boarding in the rain to the sun doing what it does and setting. It’s exhausting to always be aware of everything and I keep having to remind myself to write it down or else it’ll disappear from my mind. Saudades (longing for someone or something) come when a small thing reminds me of back home. Frustration, when I just learned a new Portuguese word but when the time comes for it to be useful forgetting it. We are not in Kansas anymore; we don’t live with our families or speak the common language. It is enough to change or begin to change one person’s perspective on anything. Continue reading