Well although the journey in Brazil is complete, there are a few blogs that need to be posted from our time in Nova Almedia.
January 24, 2007
The last few days have flown by.The camp has been going extremely well.All of the skits have connected the kids to bible stories, the crafts have brought out their creative sides and they continue to kick our butts at every game we throw their way.I have to say though, our soccer skills have improved greatly in the past week and a half.
We have also been very busy with construction.The dorm that the girls have been staying in was sanded and painted.That was a very large job.Additionally, the forest behind the camp has been thinned out so that the space can be utilized in a more efficient way.All we hope is that our hard work does not go to waste when we leave because many of us are afraid that the grass will grow back just as fast as it was cut.
Today is our last day at the camp.This morning Kate, Ryan, Matt and I were busy making thank you cards for the staff and volunteers that assisted us at the camp.Others have spent the morning decorating the hall for this afternoon.At 4 all 80 kids will show up for a final fun-filled few hours.It is very sad to think that this fun experience is almost over.
Tomorrow we are headed to RIO!We have three days to be tourists and enjoy the sights.Personally I am most excited to see the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain.Our class has bonded in such a cool way and it will be so much fun to share such a cool experience and beautiful sights with them!
Well once again siesta calls…I really am not looking forward to giving up siesta time once we get back to the states!I’m sitting outside on the patio and Amanda just came up and screamed “I DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO THE STATES!”I don’t think that any of us really want to leave this paradise!
Yesterday afternoon made the entire trip worth while.Seeing the joy in each child’s eye when they danced the boogaloo and watched us crazy Americans play charades brings the best feeling to each one of us on the trip.It is so amazing to see us interact with each other with the difficulties of not speaking each others language, but somehow throughout the past week and a half we have gotten away from this difficulty.Today was all about the kids.They sang songs, played games, and were given presents.They also had tons of fun stealing our digital cameras not to take pictures of them, but to take pictures of other people just because it is so much fun to them to play with such a cool toy.The whole camera thing got out of control because the little ones LOVE pictures and they must see that they look AMAZING in each one of them.
Another surprise for us was when they presented each one of us with handmade cards and a box of chocolate.The little girl that gave me my present was one of my favorites and it is somewhat heartbreaking to realize that the experience with them is over.When the festivities were over we took a picture with the entire group and sent them on our way with hugs.
Last night we spent a few hours having “cultural exchange” night with the people of the camp.We sang songs, played a game and gave our thanks for all they did for us.They taught us how to SAMBA like they do in the parades at Carnival (Mardi Gras in the US).We have all turned into pretty impressive samba’ers while spending the time in BRAZIL.
They also tried to scare us one more time about the dangers in Rio.Basically we are all crazy scared, but I am confident that we will be safe and have a wonderful time.We haven’t had any major problems yet, so let’s hope it stays that way.
I am beginning to get a little excited to see everyone at home and RMC.We have all found it nice to be out in the “wild” and not have the ability to communicate as easy as we do while at home.We spent the rest of the night engaging ourselves in some intense catchphrase.It is absolutely amazing to see how well all of us have bonded since we were all rather unfamiliar with each other going into the trip.I am leaving with twenty four new great friends and enough memories to last me a lifetime!
It is sad to know that we won’t be returning to Camp Nova Almedia anytime soon…but we’re in Rio BABY!!!!
Yesterday was our day of reflection from the trip.We watched the movie “the Mission,” which centers on an Indian tribe in the area which we were staying and their difficulties they faced during the colonial period.Then, the class reflected as a class on all different aspects of our trip.Specifically, we thought about ways in which we can carry on the experience that we had and continue to help the shade and fresh water project and the people associated with it.Many of us are extremely interesting to help continue to support such a wonderful cause. I also have a sincere desire to return to Brazil sometime in the near future. Nova Almedia was such a peaceful beachtown full of wonderful people and Rio de Janeiro was without a doubt in the top ten most beautiful cities in the world!
We also handed in our reflection essays which was the final component of our grade, so now we are finished with the course.In conclusion to my blog for 2007, here is part of my reflection:
So what exactly did I gain from spending J-term in Brazil?It would take many hours and many more pages of writing, but here are a few of the most significant memories.The service learning aspect of this course showed me that there are so many things to learn outside of the classroom.One can gain insight in such different ways through this type of courses.Meeting and interacting with such wonderful kids showed me that a language barrier is not as hard to conquer as I had previously believed.The kids also showed me that they are excepting of all.Race can define an area, but it does not have to and the Brazilian culture is an amazing example of this.Seeing the results on the appearance of the camp after the ditch was completed, the dorm was painted, and the “Amazon” as I called it was cleared was extremely rewarding.Experiencing the culture in both the small town of Nova Almedia and the large city of Rio de Janeiro was very interesting and insightful.Gaining the friendship of twenty three other students is always fun and having these friendships will help me to get more involved on campus in different groups that I have learned about while in Brazil.From the crazy YA BRAZIL! song, to the unforgettable moments with the kids to the sights of Rio, this trip has created countless, long lasting memories!
I hope that everyone enjoyed hearing about Brazil.It was difficult due to the circumstances with the internet in Brazil, but I enjoyed sharing some of the experiences that our class had during J-Term 2007!
Today is our final day in RIO. We are about ready to check out of the hotel, and head to a market for some last minute shopping. Our LONG flight home leaves at 8:30 this evening.
The past few days have been such a blast. Yesterday some of the class went hang gliding in the morning. In the afternoon we ventured to sugarloaf mountain and saw the city at sunset. The skyline was so beautiful. We are all peeling like crazy from all the sun, but we are all coming home with wonderful tans!
This morning a few of us woke up early to watch the sunrise and go in the ocean for the last time. It felt nice to be in the water especially since we hear it is beyond freezing at home!
Time to leave and have some FUN....see everyone in VA soon :)
So we have run into another problem...the computer in rio doesn´t recognize any of the blogs that any of us have written while on our trip and we are typing on the WORST keyboard EVER!
But we are alive and alright...well actually better than alright! Our hotel is right across the street from Copacabana and all of us have beautiful beach views! It is also a big step up from the concrete bunks that half the class was sleeping on the past week and a half. This evening we explored the shopping, went to a local cafe and watched the soccer game! Tomorrow we are off to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, spend some time on the beautiful beach and go SHOPPING in a huge market!!! We also will be venturing to Sugarloaf Mountain and living up our last few days in BRAZIL!!!!!!!
We promise to post a little about our trip when we get back...well that is if any of us decide to leave this paradise!
Brittany, Luke, Madeleine, and the rest of the gang!!!
A few Tylenol PM does a wonder for a bunch of college kids on a 12 hour flight…
The weather today has given us internet!!!!
Don’t worry moms…We’re here!
We have finally arrived at our final destination of Vitoria.The travel experience as a whole has been alright; however, very long.Due to foul weather in Texas, our flight was rerouted which added about an hour onto the whole endeavor.But…I was able to get a whole 8 hours of sleep on the plane with the help of Tylenol PM.Most of the class was able to get some sleep on the long and packed airplane and our spirits are high going into the first day of our adventure.We spent the flight reading all the latest gossip magazines (while our professors read the economist), watching Movies, solving mind boggling soduko puzzles and coloring pictures from our super sweet coloring books!
Upon our arrival in Rio we were attacked by crazy porters, crazy ladies urging us to donate to their specific cause, and crazy people pushing us to change our valuable American money for Brazilian money.It was a very overwhelming experience to be pushed into!
I cannot even begin to explain the excitement that much of the class had during our decent in to the cities of San Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.It was very interesting to see the differences between the two, and I am very glad that we are visiting in the Rio area.San Paulo is best described as a concrete jungle, whereas Rio is surrounded by beautiful tropical mountains.While on our decent into Rio, we were able to see the Christ the Redeemer statue (one of my most exciting sights for me personally!).The best feeling was getting off a 12 hour plane ride and feeling the warm, humid air soak into our skin!
Well off to explore the area of the camp.If you cannot tell by the past few paragraphs, the 30 hour trip has taken a toll on me as well as the rest of the class.A good night’s sleep is going to be wonderful.
Hi from Nova Almedia!Today is our second full day in Brazil and the first day of camp.The children are absolutely precious.This morning thirty children, mostly 6-10 year olds showed up ready to learn and play.We started by watching a play which some of my classmates put together about the creation story.Following the wonderful production, we spilt into three groups-games, music, and crafts.Pearson, Tim and I played tag with our group and then the little ones challenged us to a game of futbol (American soccer!).It was very fun to play with them; however, they kicked our butts.Some of the other members of the class continued to work on the construction/yard work projects.
The first session of the camp ended around 11:30 and it was time for a siesta!!!A nice break is what we all were in need of after a seven o’clock wake up and a morning in the sun! The weather has been rice in the morning and then the clouds have brought rain in the afternoon.But I think that we are all enjoying the relaxed lifestyle.
Yesterday we all worked on projects.Some people sanded the dorm that all the girls are living in (it’s brand new and very nice might I add!), others dug a ditch that holds electrical wires (the pipe exploded just now…so there is a new sprinkler to jump through!) and my group moved a pile of trash and tree limbs into the shrub area on the property. The funny thing about the projects is that everything is on a “for now” basis.The head of the campGordon decided that the pile was not far enough back, so yesterdays work had to be redone today…it was pretty funny to all of us!We also have found the latest scare in brazil…poisonous snails!While going through the pile of trash we found about 30 of these snails.They’re crazy and we are staying away from the poisonous liquid coming out of them!!!
Last night we ventured into the town to see what life was like outside the gate of the camp.We got ice cream and watched some local kids play soccer.In the US we have basketball courts and in Brazil there are soccer courts in the parks.Tonight we are venturing to the second oldest church in Brazil.It is interesting because many churches are on the top of mountains.They are stunning churches and I can’t wait to see the view from the top of the mountain.We have also talked to some of the college aged Brazilians working at the camp.They have taught us many words and giving insight to Brazilian culture.
Well off to take a little nap before the afternoon session of the camp begins…hope everyone at home is doing well…hoy mi amigas!
Today is our groups day to do yardwork and construction.This morning we finished digging a ditch to hold electrical lines.This afternoon we will be filling that ditch back in!We have also been clearing brush behind the camp.There are no modern tools, so we are using these golf club-like tools that are sharp.We are all having fun and enjoying the nice weather...we have heard that it is very cold in Richmond.We have also found that we have some pretty sweet skills when it comes to speaking Portuguse...all of those years of spanish class have paid off!!!
Last night we visited the second oldest church in Brazil which contained the oldest oil painting.It was on the top of a mountain which overlooked the entire town and the ocean.The views were absolutley breathtaking and it was fun to venture outside the camp during daylight!This weekend all of us are looking forward to hitting the beach and some local attractions in the area.
Right now it´s siesta time so we are all relaxing before the work begins again...Pearson is sitting outside and says hi!
Greetings from Brazil. We have found the internet connection to be different from ours - a radio connection - making it slow, probably impossible, to keep blogging at camp. So a quick note to let you know we have arrived and are excited about this experience Check back, the next blog will probably be when we arrive in RIO.
Ciao Ashland!There is just about an hour and a half until we depart for Dulles airport for our lonnngg trip.The past few days have been full of packing and repacking.One of the most fun aspects of a trip like this is that there are so many unknowns, one of which is packing.Since we will be traveling on two different airlines, the weight limits are different and unless the people in Rio are extremely lenient people, more than likely all bags over 30lbs. will have an excess baggage charge.This doesn’t sound that bad for one or two bags, but considering there are 26 of us, it could pose a major problem.
In addition to the whole luggage dilemma, the trip in itself is full of unknowns.From the impression of the professors, everything except for where and how long we will be staying for is unknown-and I like it that way.We don’t know what time we will be waking up, how long the children are at the camp with us, whether or not we will become professional fence builders (right away) or if we will spend much of the time painting, what the town is like and how freely we can go out and experience the culture.Being flexible is key to having a BLAST (which we will have of course J)!
During the long plane trip, I am going to try and learn what I can of Portuguese.People say that if you speak Spanish to the Brazilians, they will be able to comprehend what you are trying to say…but I doubt that they will be able to understand me given that I have extremely broken Spanish skills.I guess it is just another unknown!
Today was the first day of class.We went over all the normal stuff (policies and procedures) then jumped right into the fun of getting to know the rest of the class.The class played the totally lame- but always fun - get to know you games!After we were all a little more familiar with one another we jumped right into presentations about different topics which we assigned to us last semester.I presented today on the demographics of Brazil.The five other presentations were all very interesting and we have 20 more to go.These topics are helping us get a background of the culture and of the country itself.It wasn’t very fun to have to write a paper and prepare a presentation during winter break; however, I’m now finished with half of my grade my first day of class!The rest of the week we will be listening to our classmate’s presentations and hearing from guest speakers who have either traveled to Brazil on the same type of trip we are going on or have lived in Brazil.
We also talked a little about the challenges that we will be facing during our trip.Not only do we have the challenge of getting all 27 of us to our destination, but as the professors warned today, we are traveling to some of the most dangerous crime stricken cities in the world.The professors did a wonderful job at scaring us…so pray that everything goes well for us during the trip!
Finally, we received our final itinerary for the trip.We will be leaving on Sunday for an extremely LONNNGG trip (including a 12- hour flight from Houston to Rio and then a six hour layover in Rio).We will be arriving at our final destination in the town of Vitoria at six the following evening…I’ve never taken a trip quite this long, but I’m sure with the 26 other wonderful people going, we will make the most out of it!
BRAZIL: The largest country of South America and one of the most beautiful of the world. Also known in the world for its peaceful and kind people (urbandictionary.com).
During J-Term 2007, our class will be the first J-Term study abroad at RMC to venture to South America!During our time in Brazil, we will be staying in the small coastal town of Vitoria and working at a camp for underprivileged children.I am extremely excited to 1) Leave the US during winter and head to a warmer destination 2) Visit South America and 3) Continue on a similar serviced-based course to help others in need.Last year several students going to Brazil including myself spent our J-Term helping the recovery efforts in New Orleans.This experience is going to be very different than New Orleans; however, I am taking the same attitude into this trip as the last on:Go in with an open heart and positive attitude and be willing to do things that you have never done.I have found with this mindset that a person gains through helping others, and making countless memories along the way.This will be my 5th trip of this kind, and I am just as excited as ever to leave and see what is in store for us!