Having returned from the most amazing time in Brazil I have been reflecting on all the valuable experiences. In doing this I have been reflecting through a hauora lens and utilizing Sir Mason Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā model as a framework. It has reiterated that I felt a good balance of synergy between each taha throughout my time in Brazil. I have learnt a lot that I can take into my studies and career in education and into my community and I have felt personal growth through this experience.
Some of the reflections I have had since returning home are as follows.
Taha Hinengaro – Mental health
It was a privilege to spend time with the Guarani people in their community. We learnt about how they live and interface with modern society. It was also a privilege to visit the Quilombo da Forzenda and to be guided through their food forest and learn how horticulture is approached. We also were fortunate to have lectures whilst in Sao Paulo on Brazilian history, Indigenous rights, Quilombos and Indigenous communities as well as a crash course in Portuguese. There were also visits to a number of museums and a highlight was the Indigenous Cultures Museum as well as the Indigenous Peoples Memorial. These museums were a modern approach to presenting ancient learning through to current times. To learn about the history and rights of Indigenous people in Brazil was confronting and challenging at times but ultimately a rich experience that has broadened my world view and inspired me to speak power to truth of how valuable it is for all people to have a sense of being and belonging that honors their culture. It was a visceral experience as much as it was an intellectual experience that has enriched my hinengaro.
Taha Wairua – Spiritual
To learn about spiritual practices in Guarani culture was enlightening. We shared songs and stories in Guarani prayer houses. We learnt that certain instruments were used by women and others used by men. In sharing understanding of our respective environment’s and cosmology, I found my wairua lifting. At the Landless Workers Movement I was inspired by their kaupapa and mahi. Supporting each other through very challenging times with a respect for all people. Our groups final project was inspired by a poem that was read at the meeting, There were some very special moments connecting with others throughout the trip. This has reiterated the power of relationships and working with others on a shared kaupapa.
Taha Tinana – Physical
It was an amazing opportunity to partake in a Capoeira workshop. To learn about the history of the art form from a master was an honor. Capoeira is a martial art form that was invented by slaves and had to be practiced in a playful manner so not to look threatening. Hence when there is a Capoeira challenge it is referred to as play. It was a great way to shake off any jet lag from the arrival also. One of the most important lessons from the master was “Cold head, warm heart, hot feet”. Sao Paulo is a great city to navigate by subway and foot and we were lucky enough to have Talitha show us the city in this way and I really enjoyed walking around the city. It was so nice to get a swim in at Ubatuba although the ocean was pretty gnarly that day. I later learnt that Ubatuba is a surf spot of one of the best surfers in the world Brazilian Gabriel Medina. It was lovely in the Atlantic rainforest also and there were beautiful views of the Atlantic ocean. We also had the chance to visit the lake in Brasillia and paddle boarded on the lake. We also had the opportunity to see a football match and support the team of the people Corinthians vs Portuguesa amongst a vivacious crowd. Brazil is an incredibly lively country that loves to party. We had the chance to dance to all sorts of music including samba and carnaval. There was plenty of chance for movement on the trip and this enhanced the experience. Not to mention the delicious and nutritious food that kept us going.
Taha Whānau – Family
Spending a month away from my fiancé and family was the most challenging aspect of taking up this incredible opportunity. Having access to the internet for the majority of the time was helpful to be able to keep in communication with home. I was so grateful for the support I received in the lead up, whilst away and in retuning home. It was also great traveling as a rōpū and forming social connections to support one another throughout the time away. We had an incredible group of kind, intelligent and fun people who took care of one another and connected organically and in meaningful ways with each other and the people that we met.
It was a steep learning curve to be able to understand and speak basic Portuguese. “Nao falo Portuguese – I don’t speak Portuguese” became a much-used phrase. I was so grateful when I was able to communicate with locals that “obrigado – thank you” was my most used word. I met a lot of people in Brazil but not many spoke English. We also had the privilege of hearing the Indigenous language of the Guarani people. I also had a pleasant surprise to learn some Gen Z language from my fellow tauira. We are all girlies that slay and it’s not that deep, period.
In reflecting on language I have been thinking about how stories are shared and interpreted. The way in which information is shared and how we can learn from one another through embracing our own languages as well as each other’s. This really resonates with the concept of Ako in which the Teacher and Student learn from one another.
Learning to take into the future
I have had such an incredible experience with the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Latin America Indigenous History and Rights. My time in Brazil has undoubtedly had a profound impact on me. I have returned to Aotearoa New Zealand with confidence to take into my studies in 2023 and onwards. I have a deeper understanding of my privilege and how I can work towards contributing to a more just society. As a student of a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education I have been inspired through the arts and culture in Brazil. The people of Brazil live with such a fervor for life and being in their country has been energizing. These new experiences mean I have more to share and learn with others in an early childhood setting and beyond. I will be forever grateful to be a Prime Minister’s Scholar and to have had the most fulfilling trip to Brazil.