Friday, July 4, 2014

I can't believe it is July and that we have been in Sao Paulo for a full month already.  For the first few weeks of being here it just felt like a long vacation.  The past week or so that feeling has worn off and I have began to realize that Sao Paulo is actually our home.  We have become so familiar with the area that I am comfortable walking down the streets and it really feels like Sao Paulo is my city.  My research in the lab is starting to take flight and is beginning to require more of my time and attention.  Because my project deals with baby rats, our research scheduling is based around when the rats are born, which isn't very predictable.

Exploring the city is one of our favorite things to do.  We have seen many different places and landmarks of Sao Paulo.  Tonight, I met a man at our hostel who has lived in the area for his whole life and got a degree in computer science from USP.  We talked for a few hours about the history of Sao Paulo and Brazil.  I love having good, intellectual conversations and talking with this man was one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had.  He started out by telling me about the history of Zona Oeste which is the western part of Sao Paulo where we live.  He said that in the early 2000's the area hadn't even been developed yet, it was just a swamp and favela.  Now there are buildings and roads covering every inch of Zona Oeste, you would never be able to tell that just 15 years ago it was completely undeveloped.  The most interesting information he told me about was the corruption and social problems in Brazil.  He stressed the issue of human exploitation in Brazil and that humans take advantage of other humans frequently.  He gave examples of corrupt politicians, human trafficking rings, and slavery.  There was one story in particular that really caught my attention.  He parks his car in a gated parking lot just down the street from our pousada.  He said it is not safe to park your car on the street because when you wake up in the morning it could be missing and the police cannot and many times will not do anything about it.  At this parking lot there are guards to keep surveillance over the area.  The guards work shifts of 24 hours for 6 days straight and only sleep a few hours at night while their partner is keeping watch.  They make a very small income and he described their job as not being a job at all but a form of slavery.  I asked him why people don't do anything about it and he said if he were to tell the owner of the lot that it wasn't right, then he wouldn't have a safe place to park his car at night because the owner would tell him to leave.  If he were to tell the police, they wouldn't do anything about it so he doesn't have much of a say in anything.

After hearing what Brazil is actually like underneath all the glamor of the World Cup and Olympic games that tower over it's social issues, it makes me really appreciate the United States even more.  I understand why so many people want to come to the US and live the American Dream. We as college students are so lucky to have been born in a country that gives us the opportunity to succeed and follow our dreams.

No comments:

Post a Comment