To be in Brazil is to begin to understand Brazil.

As I discover more of Brazil, I have been learning of the complex challenges the country has faced and continues to. Through visits to Indigenous communities, a Quilombo community, the Landless Workers Movement and the Center for Indigenous Work, as well as the NGO GAIALATO, we have been welcomed by lovely people with open hearts willing to share their stories with us. As well as visiting the Afro-Brazilian, Immigration, and Indigenous Cultures museums. Along with lectures and meeting Indigenous academics. My understanding of Brazil as a nation is becoming far broader. These deep and moving experiences have really crystallised the importance of the programme and the need to understand the rights or lack thereof for Indigenous and marginalised communities.  There is a real need for these communities to have a platform so that we can hear their voices

We have also had the opportunity to enjoy Brazil’s beautiful nature in Ubatuba. Swimming in the Atlantic ocean and being in the Atlantic rainforest. Along with enjoying the fervour that permeates throughout Sao Paulo at a block rehearsal for carnival, embracing the incredible street life, and meeting some great people. As well as eating wonderful food throughout the city. Brazil is a wild and beautiful country but also a country faced with many social challenges, and to learn about this and sit with the uncomfortable feelings has been humbling, to say the least.

I have also found it a profound experience to be travelling with our group of incredible individuals. Wherever we go, we carry our values from home and awhi each other to ensure we all get the most from the experience as possible. Our Co-ordinator, Talita, is amazing, and I am constantly impressed by how she holds space for our group and individuals as well as her many talents, including but not limited to interpreting, facilitating connection, knowing the best places to eat, shop and have fun, as well as ensuring we are all well cared for.

I have so much to reflect on already and am considering how we can take the learning into our project work in Brasilia. I can also see how this experience will benefit my approach to study, work, and life back in Aotearoa. It has been a privilege to have this opportunity for cross-cultural learning and sharing in a real and tangible way.

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