Since touching down in Sao Paulo on January 20th (Jan 21st NZ time), I have been challenged, inspired, and thankful.
As someone with little travel experience, I was expecting to be challenged by Brazil and this programme. I knew I would be challenged in the sense that I was far from home and my support system; but also challenged by the new culture and language. So far Brazil has done just that. Driving into Sao Paulo, my preconceived perceptions of Brazil were immediately challenged. I saw poverty and vast inequality; but also vibrant cultural practices, bustling metropolitan areas, and even a Michelin Star restaurant. Brazil immediately opened my eyes and challenged my thinking.
Whilst being challenged by this experience, I have also been incredibly inspired by it. Our lectures have highlighted the strength of indigenous communities in Brazil that have resisted and persevered for nearly six centuries. Furthermore, our workshop on Capoeira, a Brazilian dance/martial arts form with roots in resistance of slavery, was inspirational as it demonstrated the strength of the African community in Brazil.
Throughout all of this I am thankful to be from Aotearoa. I am thankful to be from a country where I do not have to watch for pickpockets and can drink water from the tap. Ultimately, I am grateful to be from a country that provides these unique opportunities and enables me to learn about such a different culture and history.