Friday, November 13, 2009

Ahoy! I'm sitting in a grocery store that's right under my apartment, with great internet. They have tables so I don't feel really strange, only a little bit. I have gotten a couple of looks and I am the only one with a computer right now but I'm not the only one that has used this space as an internet café, so I don't feel super sketchy.

I am now officially a 'professora'! I taught two classes this week (picture = CUCA), and as far as I can tell, I think the students are really enjoying the class. We talked about United States history (one of my favorite subjects) and have had discussions about the general concept of culture, what it means, and how it can be different to each person. We've also talked about the ideas of democracy as a means of government and as an ideology...Though I don't know how well that came across in translation. My class is huge--51 people registered, but both days about 35 or so showed up. As far as I can tell, this is pretty common with courses at CUCA--lots of people register, about half of them actually attend.

Speaking Portuguese for an hour and a half (well, either that or listening to it) gets really, really tiring. Each day I realize just how little Portuguese I really know and can utilize. But there's no denying that I've been able to improve at an incredible rate. Learning languages is quite a phenomenon. And it is truly frustrating. I remember during the first few weeks of the program one of the other students said that her family has a parrot, and the parrot could speak more Portuguese than she could. I'm continually amazed when I meet little kids, and they go off chattering, speaking better Portuguese than I ever's crazy!

I'm also taking a Capoeira class at CUCA. Capoeira is an afro-brazilian martial art that started as a way to disguise battle training as music and dance. Slaves would stand in a circle (roda) singing and clapping, the berimbau and the tamborine their primary instruments, while two opponents sparred in the center. It's really popular here, and I have had the opportunity to "watch" a few capoeira games (watch is in quotes because capoeiristas don't let you get away with standing in the roda without participating) and it has truly been a privilege. People "play" with such joy and there is so much energy emanating from everyone in the circle. Everyone participates, whether it's singing, playing an instrument, or playing the game, which is a very strategic combination of reaction to what your opponent does and cunning to try and beat him. My first official class was yesterday and I had so much fun, just learning the basics! I am really sore today, all over, but it was definitely worth it. If you can, you should try and check out some capoeira traditional music, on iTunes or online. It's got a really unique sound and the lyrics are fantastic. Some lyrics are about trivial things, some about 'Mother Africa' and some about just life. One of my favorite lyrics from last night:

Vivemos aqui nessa terra lutando pra sobreviver (we live here on this earth struggling to survive)

um lugar onde poucos tem muito e muitos não tem o que come (a place where little have much and many don't even have enough to eat)

Olhando isso eu fico triste me pergunto qual é a solução (seeing this I'm sad, and I ask myself what the solution is)

estou feiliz por ter a capoeira commo forma de expressão (I'm happy to have capoeira as a form of expression)
Capoeira é uma arte e arte é obra de Deus (Capoeira is an art and art is the work of God)

nessa terra eu não tenho muito mas tudo que tenho foi Deus que me deu (in this earth I don't have much, but all I have God gave me)

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