Sunday, November 29, 2009


Dec 15 4:20PM Depart Fortaleza
Dec 15 9PM Arrive São Paulo
Dec 15 11PM Depart São Paulo
Dec 16 1:35AM Arrive Foz de Iguaçu
Dec 19 7PM Depart Foz de Iguaçu
Dec 19 9PM Arrive São Paulo

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Children´s Games and Packages!

Wow, quite a spate of posts recently--either I´ve been too busy or not busy enough...not actually sure which!

Today´s class was primarily dedicated to children´s games. We started off talking about typical food in the US and I waxed lyrical about the wonders of peanut butter, which is a surprisingly regular occurence. I thought it was important to talk/answer questions about food for a couple of reasons:

1. Everyone here eats rice and beans at least once a day. That´s not an exaggeration. You can´t find someone who doesn´t know how to cook arroz e feijão. When food comes up, Brazilians always want to know what our equivalent to rice and beans is. I have yet to think of something similar...I think the closest might just be PB&J sandwiches...cue another chance to sing peanut butter´s praises! When I told them sandwiches are really common and talked about Turkey Clubs and BLTs, they asked me if that was why Americans are all so fat. I wasn´t sure what to say but I ended up blaming (probably semi-unfairly) Fast Food.
2. Of the Brazilians that have actually visited the States (none of whom are students of mine), the majority have only been to Disney World, and maybe the other theme parks in Orlando. So they come back to Brazil complaining about how American food is awful and expensive to boot, and all anyone eats is hamburgers, hot dogs, and french fries. I wanted to correct this erroneous thinking.
3. Food is part of culture, intrinsically, and like I´ve said before, it´s funny to think about something we all need to survive changing so much from place to place.

The games we ended up playing:
-Duck Duck Goose this was definitely a favorite--people picked it up quickly and we played for a while. Incidentally, duck = pato and goose = ganzo, same as Spanish.
-WAH! Yes, all you Whiptail/BDC readers out there, I officially brought WAH to Brazil! We had an excellent time playing and by the end they really got it I think, though they definitely preferred duck duck goose.
-What time is it, Mr. Fox So I forgot the translation for Fox, so that was kind of lost, and I think I may have played it slightly wrong, but they got the general gist.
-Simon Says (Simon Diz) They really liked this one. I explained it to them and then said someone else had to be Simon because I didn´t know enough body parts yet—probably not quite true but I was tired of leading games and it got a laugh. We played that for quite a while.
-Morto Vivo We formally ended with a Brazilian children´s game they decided to teach me, and we had a lot of fun. When the leader says ´morto´, you have to squat down, ´vivo´, stand up. It´s simple but fast-paced and fun. I lasted for a long time which I was proud of.

We ended up formally ending right at 12 o´clock, but about half the students stayed after and we played ´rock paper scissors´and I taught them a few clap games.

I had by far my most fun day today, and I left in a stellar mood to head home for a late lunch, and then head over to the SIT headquarters where I picked up MAIL! A beautiful blouse and a letter from my wonderful Gran, and another letter from the Wellesley Office of International Study containing tons of news, a letter from the class dean, and (more importantly) Swedish Fish, Starburst, and a recipe for pumpkin pie— just in time for Thanksgiving! I think I might try and make something for class tomorrow; I´ll let you know how that endeavor turns out. Fátima´s oven doesn´t have any degrees or much temperature adjustment, so...well, we shall see.

Monday, November 23, 2009


After the usual questions about where I’m from and how long I’m here for and what I’m studying, it goes something like this (in Portuguese):

“So, do you have a boyfriend back home in the States?”
“You don’t?”
“What about here? Do you have a boyfriend here in Fortaleza?”
“Really?! But you’re so beautiful! I can’t believe you don’t have a boyfriend!”
“Nope, don’t have a boyfriend.”
“Have you at least kissed some Brazilian guys since you’ve been here?”
“Aw, but why not?!”
“I guess because I’m shy!”

Cue the less mandatory but still common conversation about Brazilian men and how they are happy to look at you/cat call you, but generally don’t want to buy you dinner or date you.

It gets old. Very quickly.

My Sunday Afternoon, or Why Getting Lost on the Bus is a Good Thing

So last Thursday, I got horribly lost on the bus. I guess it was bound to happen at some point. I usually take the bus line ‘Grande Circular 2’ to CUCA, but I wasn’t really paying attention, and I ended up getting on ‘Circular 2,’ which is a completely different route.

…Only it goes a while on the same route before turning into a completely different route, so I was sitting on the bus for quite some time before it occurred to me that the bus didn’t seem to be going exactly the same way as usual. I figured it was my poor memory, and it took me a bit more time before I summoned up the courage to head up to the driver and make sure that the bus was headed toward CUCA. I got a confused look from the bus driver, instructions to go to the terminal Antonio Bezerra and take a different bus from there from the guy waiting to get off, and then there erupted a small argument between him and a girl who appeared to be about my age, apparently about which way I should be going. Finally the older guy ceded and got off the bus, and the girl motioned to come sit next to her. We disembarked at UFC, the university…allllllll the way across town. She walked me quickly to a different bus stop and loudly asked if anyone was getting on the “CUCA/Barra” line. One girl, also about my age (there were lots of college students around…it is a university campus after all) said she was, and we got the bus together.

The CUCA/Barra bus took a long time to arrive, and we had an even longer time riding the bus all the way back across the city, and Joelma (that was the girl’s name) and I had a nice time conversing and getting to know one another. She’s taking an English class at the UFC and works two different jobs. We exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and made a tentative date to go watch the new Twilight together (I wasn’t particularly enthused, but it’s something to do and hang out again).

After much conversation, I ended up going to her house and chilling with her and her two sisters on Sunday afternoon. She made lunch for us to eat together (lasagna, delicious) and around 4:30 we left to walk to CUCA (it’s about a 20-minute walk from her house) to watch yet another gorgeous sunset, and then go to a Baroque ensemble concert. The ensemble was great, playing a bunch of really old stuff, but also some arrangements of Brazilian music they’d written for the group, including some great pieces composed originally by Luiz Gonzago.

Joelma and her sisters had never been to the theater before…I was taken back to the days of my youth when I’d go to some small ensemble performance with my mom at Penn and fall asleep halfway through…but either way, it was enjoyed by all. And that’s the story of why getting lost on the bus is a good thing.

But my Sunday didn’t end there! Fatima had introduced the group and is friends with a few of the musicians, and a big group of us (about 9) ended up going out after the concert for delicious pizza. I had a nice conversation with one of the recorder players who said he could procure me an oboe to play! And I’m going to an orchestra concert of his on Thursday! They’re playing some Villa Lobos.

So basically, a really solid day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tough Second Week

…Two more to go before write-up and presentation time; then it’s off to the south of the country (not exactly sure where, yet…), then…? I can’t believe the time—it’s just flying by.

The week has been particularly hard, for a number of reasons. I am really starting to miss some of those true constants: family and the ability to make it back to Brunswick from school in three hours or less; friends, both at school and at home; Wellesley, in all its ridiculous glory; and, of course, Ultimate. Our team splits into A and B teams at the end of the fall and the team list was recently posted. As I read through all the names, I realized I only recognized about half of them, maybe less!

It’s easy to get lost in this eternal summer, and think that time has stood still and everything will be waiting right where I left it when I get back. But of course that’s not the case, it can’t be. And recognizing that as I prepare for more transition will be crucial.

One of the reasons that this week has been so hard is due to my continual struggle for independence and against common sense. Don’t worry, common sense continues to win out, in the form of an armed escort to the bus stop as I’m leaving CUCA for home every afternoon. So far since CUCA’s opening there have been multiple students who’ve gotten mugged, including one girl who was robbed at gunpoint. All the professors get an escort to the bus stop, but I really hate it. I have stopped taking my laptop there, and really, it’s thanks to some good sense, and more sheer luck, that I haven’t had anything happen to me so far.

I feel like I’m treading very on a glass floor, and one wrong move, the whole thing will shatter. The only thing I’ve ever had stolen from me before was a bike, when I was 10 and living in West Philly, but somehow I feel like getting robbed here would be more mentally debilitating than anything else.

The fact that I am constantly thinking about it is probably a good thing, but I have just felt way too on edge lately.

Class at CUCA is going really well (see picture of another glorious sunset!). My students are bright and engaged, eager and curious. I’ve gotten about half a dozen invites to lunch with them, and a dozen more ‘Orkut’ (pronounced orkooch…Brazilian equivalent to Facebook) invitations.

Friday, ‘deu uma volta’ (I took a walk around the bairro [neighborhood]) with Beatriz, a 15-year-old, from my class. She has 5 brothers and sisters and lives about three blocks away from CUCA. Though I know I’ve mentioned a lot about it being dangerous above, it’s only really dangerous when you’re sozinha (alone) and when you’ve got a backpack/bag on you—that tends to draw attention. So I left my bag at CUCA and walked with Beatriz to get to know the neighborhood a bit. We went to her house, where I got to meet her mom and a couple brothers and sisters, including her 19-year-old brother, who’s deficiente—handicapped. I’m not sure exactly what handicap he has but it’s pretty debilitating. He can’t walk or even sit up without help and clearly has limited mental capacity. But he was really happy to see a new face, I could tell, and I think it meant a lot to Beatriz that I was willing to go with her. Her mom was also excited to meet me and Beatriz raved on and on about class, which was a bit unnecessary.

Beatriz warned me before that her family was poor, and I shouldn’t expect too much. I didn’t know quite how to respond to that. Even if I’m not “rich” by American standards, or anything, if she knew how much money I bring into that world, by my plane ticket alone, she’d probably be shocked. And when I met her family, her house was pretty humble—four rooms, she shares a room with three brothers and sisters, and one TV, no cable—but it was the house of a family that was living comfortably with what they had, sharing what was maybe not a ton, but you can tell they have enough, and they’re happy, and what’s more, eager to share it with whoever shows interest.

I was planning to do the next class on food, but I think I’ll save that for Thanksgiving day. One of my students had an interesting class idea, one I think will work—child games and songs exchange. I’ll teach them the ones we play in America, we can do some Brazilian ones too. I can only come up with ‘Duck Duck Goose,’ ‘Quack Diddly Oso,’ and Mafia, so if any of you have other suggestions, please let me know!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Re: Learning to Samba

I think the key is to move your feet really fast, have fun, and not care about whatever atrocity you're committing to the name of 'Samba'.

Seriously, I think I'm getting it.

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) Read More...

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Beginning of Part III

Well, I'm back in Fortaleza! We got back yesterday afternoon, leaving three students behind in Salvador for their independent studies.

Today marks the beginning of the field study period, something that's pretty exciting. I don't know how much I've said about my project, but I'll be working at a government-funded center that offers classes for youth ages 15-29 in the city. And while doing my own field study is intimidating, it's not even the most intimidating thing about this part of the program.The most intimidating thing is that I'm going to be speaking Portuguese 24/7. There won't be american students around for me to converse with; my academic director will be communicating via from here on out, it's exclusively Portuguese, a true immersion.

The field study isn't even the second-most intimidating thing. While I'm researching the youth center, I'm going to be teaching a class there as well, on "American art and culture"--a pretty broad topic, especially for only 8 "lectures". I figured it'd be a way to give back to the organization, but I was not expecting a serious class. Apparently 50 people enrolled. So, if any of you have any suggestions on what I should include (what even is American culture?) send them my way; I'd be grateful. My first class is tomorrow at 10:30, and I already can feel butterflies in my stomach...

I know I owe updates about Recife and Salvador, and I'm going to try to get around to them this week.

As far as the computer goes, I took it in today to get it looked at...looks like my hard drive failed so I'm without my computer for the rest of the week probably. Hopefully it won't be too expensive to fix. Oh, well. Life goes on, I guess. Read More...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

O Bahia, O Salvador...

Oi! After a long span of little to no internet, I am here in Salvador at an internet cafe with quick internet and a webcam/headset, so I´m a bit more accessible and have enjoyed a few skype conversations with family/friends! Look for me online; I´d love to chat.

Salvador is a beautiful, historic city (actually Brazil´s first city and capital, founded in the first decade of the 1500s) and I´ve enjoyed my limited free time exploring the city. Though much of our time here has been spent visiting NGOs (such as Bahia Street, which we visited today), we´ve also had a good portion of time on our own. It´s nice to relax and just be on my own in Brazil, navigating a different city without a group of Americans. Yesterday we had our whole morning free, and I went to a really cool used bookstore in the Pelorinho (pictured above), the historic center. The store´s called Beringela, which means eggplant in Portuguese. It was exactly what a used bookstore should be, with old, dusty books stacked up against the walls and shelves and everywhere there was space, kind of organized, kind of not, and a really nice shopkeeper who recommended about a thousand books to me (I only bought three). It had a little snack/cafe place attached so I got coffee and read for a while.

Food here is spicy and delicious!! I have been missing spices; Fortaleza tends to be pretty bland. The dish of choice is Acarajé (pictured, left), a delicious afro-baiana dish made from fried bean paste, stuffed with sauce, spicy tomatoes and bell peppers, and shrimp (with the shells on. and yes, that´s how you are supposed to eat them). But really food deserves a whole other entry, as does a week that´s missing here--the week in Recife and Cachoiera. Entries to come, I promise, as time permits!

Saturday I´ve got a free day and I´m planning to spend it at the MAM (Modern Art Museum or Museu de Arte Moderno, depending on which language you choose), writing letters and postcards that are long overdue, and checking out the museum of course, which is free. Apparently it´s a great place to watch the sunset, and Saturday night there´s going to be dinner and a jazz concert, so I´ll stay for that. I´m pretty excited. The only hitch in this plan is that my computer broke (it´s a long and very sad story. But it might get fixed in Fortaleza. Fingers crossed.) and thus I have lost a bunch of addresses I had saved. So if you want a postcard and haven´t already e-mailed me your address, do it!! Please!

Hope this update reaches all of you well--I know it´s flu season back in the States. Special well-wishes to my little sister, Sarah (are you even reading this Sarah?) who is a bit sick but starring in Beauty and the Beast at BJHS starting tomorrow! Break a leg, Sarah, I´ll be thinking of you!!! Read More...