Saturday, August 13, 2016
I have Nothing but Gratitude
Upon conclusion of our exit interview, my mentor, Dr. Risoleta, asked me "so, other than the 'no rules of the sidewalk' and the avocado with sugar," which are some things that I had reported as different from the United States in the very beginning of my trip, "what else have you noticed that is different here in Brasil, perhaps something bigger?" Now, normally I'm not the type to have much to say when asked to have on-the-spot philosophical analysis of society and culture, but this time the answer was easy. It's something that I noticed very soon after arrival and could give an example of for every single day I've lived in Floripa. The most striking difference for me between Americans and Brasilians is their attitude towards foreigners. I can't tell you the amount of times that I've told someone that I don't speak Portuguese only for them to try and continue to have an entire conversation with me in Portuguese. At first, I thought it was annoying, because I thought they wanted a response from me, but soon I realized it was just their funny way of trying to make me feel welcomed. The generosity and care Brasilians give people they have never met before is truly unparalleled to anything I've experience in the US. Everyday as disjointed Portuguese stumbles out of my mouth as I try to order food I am incredibly grateful for the amount of patience and willingness to help that complete strangers have given me here. It's truly amazing how quickly you can make friends with someone here, even if you don't speak the same language. In the United States I feel like most people have this attitude about people who move or travel to the US without having mastered English before hand, and almost an unwillingness to help. If that were the case here in Brasil, my stay here would have been much more lonely.
When I would have these experiences with my coworkers or on hikes or on the bus or at restaurants or on campus or whereever I may be all I could think about is how I would never get a chance to fully repay these people for their kindness. For making me feel so welcome, for inviting me on their family roadtrips, for making Floripa feel like home, all I have is gratitude.
I am very sad to have to leave this place, but eternally grateful for the experience I've had and how its allowed me to grow. Now, back to Memphis and onto a new adventure!