My first few days in Brazil!!
I arrived to Aracaju, Brazil on July 2nd in the evening and stepping foot out of the car and toibto the student housing apartment, was definitely a culture shock; I knew right then and there that I was not in Seattle anymore. Seeing everyone in my group and my study abroad leaders I was so excited, nervous, anxious, happy, and all of these other emotions rolled into one. But mostly I was excited to finally be here and being able to finally experience everything (even though I was really tired from the jetlag).
So for my study abroad program, we are focusing on disabilities technology, and rehabilitation in limited resource areas focusing on rural Brazil. For the past couple of days, we have been visiting a non-profit organization called Rosa Azul which helps children and adults with short and long-term disabilities. Some people have Autism, others have a disability that came from an injury, others have Down Syndrome and many others. The first day we were there (July 3rd), Carolyn, the founder of Rosa Azul, gave us a tour of the organization, introduced us to some of the people that volunteer and work there as well as introducing to some of the children and adults with disabilities. Being there the first day was so interesting; I lovved how everyone was so nice and friendly, some of the children were shy but I thought it was so great to be able to talk with them for a little. After having the tour, Carolyn gave us a little bit of history about Rosa Azul and her background of being in Aracaju. There was so much to take in so I don’t remember everything that was said but I just remember being inspired and fascinated by everything that Carolyn was saying to us and what she does for the organization. It is very admirable. After that, we went to a low-income community called tent city where the families that lived there were evicted out of their houses not because of rent but because of other families had to live their too. So those families that were evicted built shelters for their families to live in (community is similar to a slum). Being there just reminded me of how people should be appreciative for what they have as cliche as that sounds. But as much as the community was low-income, everyone there seemed very content with being there especially since their friends and family were there. This day was great!
On July 4th we went to Rosa Azul again but this time we were able to interact more so with the children and adults with disabilities and it was a great experience! Me and two other girls were spending time with the children and even though there was a language barrier with us speaking English and a tiny bit of Portuguese and the children and volunteers speaking fluent Portuguese, we were still able to somehow talk to them. It was awesome seeing how friendly everyone was towards us I don’t know why but I didn’t think it would be like that but I’m happy that it was 🙂 After that, we had a guest speaker that talked to us about disability laws in Brazil and how some of those laws get implemented. It was interesting learning how much time and effort it takes it just reminded me of some of those efforts in the US. A couple of hours after that, we went to our first Portuguese class and it was so exciting that we were actually learning more fluent Portuguese than just the few words we know haha. It was a little hard to learn everything but it was still fun.
On July 5th, we went to the market (marcado) and it was so cool! The marcado had little shops and fruit stands and it was so nice. I bought some dresses and jewlery and the food was good too. I wanted to buy everything that was there but I knew that can’t happen. The environment kind of reminded me of Pike Place Market but a little different. More things were on the street but it was great. Later on we had Portuguese class and it was the same exciting but fast lol but it was still fun to learn!
I know I wrote a lot but I wanted you all to have somewhat of a sense of my trip here so far. More to come! 🙂