One month deep

June 1, 2012 | Carolyn, ECH, AFS, Brazil, Centro Integrado de Estudos e Programas de Desenvolvimento Sustentavel (CIEDS)

I have been in Brazil for almost exactly one month. I am thinking so many things every moment of every day that I have no idea where to begin with this blog…



With reference to personal expectations:

I was trying really hard not to have any - I have been to Brazil twice before; a one year exchange in 2006 and a one month visit in 2011. Brazil has captured my heart and I continue to come back because of these wonderful experiences. I was trying to keep my expectations realistic for this visit because my others had been so incredible, and yet, here I am enveloped in perfection! My family and I are a perfect match and my work placement, colleagues, schedule, and tasks are inspiring. I could not imagine a more incredible international internship for myself.

Brazilian culture is not all parties. My colleagues work efficiently, work a lot, and work because they love it. This is contagious! I have been captivated by the passion that my coworkers have for even the tiniest of tasks. For example, I get to work a half hour earlier than everyone so that I have time to read the e-mails they sent before going to sleep because they stay up later than I do.
I work about 8hrs per day, often 12 or 14 with the commute times. I also often work on weekends because the women we meet work during the weekdays.
I recently fell ill because of a virus and exhaustion. The feeling this gave me was annoyance - I do not want to fall behind or miss any of the action at my placement! I realize this sounds ridiculous and unhealthy, but three month international work placements are partially ridiculous and unhealthy.

My work placement involves mobilizing women in poor neighbourhoods outside of Sao Paulo. Missing a meeting means missing the opportunity to meet another woman who will completely change my life and the way I see and understand things. Meanwhile, this work involves sensitive subjects and I am constantly frustrated that I am not able to word things as perfectly as I would like or understand the undertones of discussions and debates. I am not sure how long I would need to be able to do overcome this challenge, but I am devoted to improving my Portuguese.


With reference to my personal experience:

My biggest fear was that I would be treated like a foreign exchange student instead of an integral part of the team. I can honestly say that I am beginning to be given real portions of the team’s work. This is the most exciting part of my internship! I set off to work every day excited about the challenge ahead.

I am constantly aware of the very strange time in Brazil’s history that I am seeing; there appears to be a new, social programming ’industry’ arising. The pessimist in me feels that it may just be part of preparations for the World Cup and Olympics, while the optimist in me thinks it is Brazil’s social reawakening, supported by President Rousseff’s dedication. Either way, it is exciting to see so much activity centred toward social justice.


My host family and I talk about everything - to the point where conversations most often end with, “Oh no, look at the time, again! We should really all go to bed.” My twelve year old host brother makes me breakfast banquets in the morning and even asked me to teach him yoga! I cannot articulate how much I enjoy their company.

I have been exploring the city on my own and with friends from my previous Brazil travels. I feel comfortable in Sao Paulo so long as I only try to understand this massive city in so far as Metro stops - otherwise I really do continue to feel lost.

Time to get back to work, e vivando em Português!

Ate mais,


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