Written by Danery Manzanares – August 21, 2013
What can I say, this experience has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Yesterday, the 5 ambassadors from Recife and the 5 from Campinas finally joined back into one family. It felt as if we were a big family and half went with the mom and half went with the dad. It is great to be back together again. We were all ecstatic to see each other again and were more than ready to share the many experiences we lived in each of our host cities.
Not many people get to say that they were able to step outside their hotel and step onto Ipanema Beach. Being able to feel the sand between your toes and feel the waves splashing against your feet is something so sensational. There is a very good reason why Rio de Janeiro is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The beauty of this city really can do magical things to a person.
A night on Ipanema with the 10 Youth Ambassadors really taught me just how amazing it is to be around people that you can connect with. This trip also taught me that, sometimes, it is better to listen with both your ears instead of talking with just your mouth. You really begin to see and hear things for what they are and not what they appear to be. I can’t wait to see what Rio has left for the U.S.Y.A’s and also what the U.S.Y.A’s can bring to Rio.
Written by Emma Hart – August 21, 2013
This morning, we had our last breakfast in the amazing city of Campinas. Before dropping me off with the rest of the group, my host father took me to eat pastel, a delicious deep fried pastry with various things inside.
So, we parked the car and went into a market where vendors were selling meat, fruits, vegetables, etc. We ordered our pastel, and watched as they threw the pastry into hot oil, and in a matter of seconds handed you your hot, crispy breakfast. The perfect first bite of pastel and sip of guarana (really good soda) was enough to make me smile.
My host father ordered another pastel, and began to eat it, and sip his Coke. I looked over my shoulder to the left and saw a homeless man. He looked really unhealthy. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit scared when he was walking in my direction. I turned my head away.
My host father glanced over and saw the man. Without second thought he walked right up to the man and handed him his pastel and Coke. I stood there so amazed.
This moment perfectly describes Brazilians: so kind to everyone. This is a moment I will always remember, and a way of life I won’t forget.
Written by Sicily Ranieri – August 19, 2013
Today was such a relaxing day. I got to sleep in till 1 pm, which allowed me to get 11 hours of sleep! One of the main rules that I have learned during this trip is to always get as much sleep as possible and whenever you can. I have absolutely loved this whole trip but I was tired almost all the time!
So after my first real sleep my family and I went to another all-you-can-eat meat restaurant where I developed a food baby!
After that Paola and I went to the park to longboard. We thought we would only stay for a couple hours but ended up staying for almost five.
At the park there were many people, which was very cool because I actually got to see people having their daily reunite. I saw people playing different sports, people skate boarding in the skate pool, people fighting with swords, a model posing for a Miss Brazil photo shoot, and the list goes on!
While all of this was going on we started to hear music. Curious, we walked to the outdoor stage and realized there was a free concert going on. I don’t usually like or have ever actually heard hard metal or scream-o type of music but I wanted to watch anyway to see what a Brazilian concert was like!
We grabbed a coconut to drink out of and sat down for a couple of hours to enjoy the scene! Paola enjoyed the music, while what I liked the most was to observe people in the front rows banging their heads to the singer who was screaming at the top of his lungs while wearing a wrestler mask.
After my ears couldn’t take the extremely loud music anymore we decided to call it a night!
Written by Zoe Melton – August 17th, 2013
My week in Recife has been so wonderful. I was sort of sad that I had to begin my week with a stolen phone but, sadness quickly turned into happiness as the day progressed. The day my phone was stolen, I went to a Nautico game which was so much fun. My host uncle is the president of Nautico so we got VIP seating. The soccer team is very nice but I have devoted my heart to the team, Sport. We went to a game and then went on the field which was amazing. I also got my shirt signed by all of the important soccer players which was very awesome.
As the week progressed I fell in love…with Guarana. The soda is the best thing I ever tasted and I am addict. In ABA, we have so much fun. We learn Portuguese, Brazilian Culture, and fun Dances all in the same day which is exciting. I have met so many caring individuals that I want to stay in Recife. We also went to beautiful Olinda and shopped at the interesting mercados. At the mercados, I saw so many beautiful and unique items that showed the culture of Olinda. Recife is so beautiful that I don’t think that I want to leave.
Written by Joseph Cuellar – August 16th, 2013
Some people could describe how fun and amazing this trip has been so far, in words, but not me. This trip has been one of those things that you just have to experience for yourself. It cannot be described. Ever since I have been in Brazil, I have enjoyed everything. The weather, the people, the food and the sports. My host family is wonderful to me and I enjoy every moment in this beautiful country.
When we visit schools and meet new people we immediately feel attached to them and are so sad to leave, even though we have only known them for a short time. I hope the Brazilians will remember us Americans as more than the people who attempted to dance forró and stepped on a few of their toes!
These are our last few days with our host families and I plan to make the very best of them. After that it’s off to Rio!
Written By Sophia Alvarez – August 14th, 2013
This Tuesday, the Campinas Youth Ambassadors woke very early–to many complaints–in order to drive to the city of São Paulo. The sleep deprivation was well worth it, however, to see the largest city in the Western Hemisphere.
From the moment we slowed on the highway due to infamous São Paulo traffic, I could sense the enormity of the city. Although I have been in large American cities such as New York, I live in your typical, spread out, moderately populated Midwestern city. Thus, the sheer number of people, cars, skyscrapers, and square miles of São Paulo was an experience in and of itself. There was a density of life that reminded me of how many other people and other ways of living exist on this planet.
For lunch, we went to an enormous public market in São Paulo, where I was inundated with new sights and smells: row after row of raw meat and seafood, huge ham sandwiches called mortadellas, cheeses from all over the world. I had a pastel for lunch, a traditional Brazilian food consisting of dough stuffed with cheese, meat, palm hearts, or even chocolate. It was delicious! After lunch, we went to two museums, the Museo de Portugues, and the Museo de Futbol (pronounced fuch-e-ball by Paulistas, or residents of São Paulo). I particularly enjoyed the language museum, because we were able to trace the origins of Portuguese through history, and see how different human languages are related.
Between new foods, a new language, new cultural experiences, and the sheer size of the city, our trip to São Paulo continued a theme that I have found throughout my time in Brazil: diversity in ways of life. The USYAs are experiencing this theme everyday, from ham and cheese breakfasts in the morning to crazy driving during the day, to dinners with extended families at night. I am excited to see what other ways of life are still out there, waiting for discovery.
Written by Makenzi Seaton – August 15, 2013
I’ve noticed that the expression “Lost in Translation” can mean a few different things. Among these, it can literally mean “lost”.
Five American Teenagers in Recife, Brazil, does not always equal success in communication. Lets just say that VERY many shop owners and random Brazilians trying to strike up a conversation with us often get blank looks or a very uncertain “Nao fala Portuguese”. But we do our best with a simple smile and a “muito prazer”.
Smiles are universal. We don’t have to be fluent in Portuguese to express our happiness of being in a new place and sharing our love for traveling and discovering different cultures. I’ve also noticed that many Portuguese words or phrases will not always translate to English or mean the same thing.
I think that when we will return to the US, we will experience something similar. We will be bombarded with questions about our trip (and in many of cases, exclamations on how much tan we got), and of course we will try our best to give our experience the justice it deserves, but chances are that most people won’t understand.
But let’s smile anyways. People, family and friends will see the utter happiness this trip has exposed many of us to. Maybe they’ll understand. After all, smiles are universal.
Witten by Jeff Bonar – August 14, 2013
Prior to coming on this trip, whenever I thought of Brazil I always thought of colors. That said, I have absolutely no idea where this thought originated. Maybe it came from the combination of green, yellow and blue on the national flag of Brazil representing the country´s history and geography. Perhaps it came from images I´ve seen before of Carnival revelers wearing flamboyant costumes and performing elaborate dances in a kaleidoscope of color. I may never know for sure how this idea became embedded in my head. Nevertheless, it has been reassuring to realize that Brazil does live up to the expectations that I have had.
Since coming to Brazil exactly one week ago, I have been introduced to bright and delicious tropical fruits and juices that I didn´t even know existed. I have walked down streets of colonial buildings restored with pinks and teals and oranges. As I type this I am wearing a red and black striped soccer jersey in anticipation of the Sport Club do Recife soccer match that I will be attending with the U.S. Youth Ambassadors.
What is most impressive though is the mix of Brazilian friends that I have made. Friends with blonde hair, brown hair, black hair and red hair. Friends with ancestry that includes all regions of the world. Friends with colorful stories and smiles and gestures.
A rainbow isn´t a rainbow if one of the colors is absent. It wouldn´t look right or elicit the same feelings when you saw it. Similarly, Brazil needs all of these colorful things and people present in order to show its true beauty. And I for one am just happy to be able to experience it.
Written by Danery Manzanares – August 12, 2013
I think I am ready to call Campinas my second home. The experiences, memories, and moments I am having here are beyond unbelievable.
Today was our 2nd day – and probably the most important one – of Portuguese class here in Campinas, and I missed almost all of it. There was a misunderstanding, and I showed up at the last 10 minutes of class. I guess you can say that I am definitely enjoying it so far. I really do love all of the people that are working with us and helping us here. Isabel, Cinthia, Fernanda, and Manuele are all really great! They are making this experience that much greater.
Being able to go to the stadium where Ponte Preta plays was a pretty awesome experience I really enjoyed. We got the V.I.P treatment which was pretty nice. Even though it was a small stadium, it was still pretty awesome. I saw a new type of animal I had never seen before that looked like a cross between a bee, a bird, and a butterfly. Brazil just gets more and more beautiful every day that passes.
Being able to experience a new type of food is always great. We went to “Restaurante do Rosario” and I got to try some new stuff that I’ve never had before, such as artichoke hearts, some kind of meat that had banana sauce and bananas cooked with it, and rice with frozen hash brown strips which were amazing. I am falling into a deep love with the food in Brazil.
Last but most certainly not least was our dance classes! Today I realized just how bad of a dancer I actually am. Our dance teacher was really good so it was hard to make the dancing look as good as he was able to. We got to learn to dance frevo, forro, samba, and capoeira. The phrase “zoom zoom zoom, Capoeira mata um” is playing over and over again in my head. If dancing is like it was today all over Brazil, I want to move here!!!
To top this fantastic day off, we spent some well needed time at “Sonho de Verao”. It was some of the best ice cream I have ever had. I would describe the ice cream I ate as “heaven in my mouth.” It was anamazing end to an amazing day.
Written by Emma Hart – August 12, 2013
She snuggled into my arms and held my hand as we were driving down a bumpy street. In my mind I thought, how can I feel so complete? How can I be so content? I made my new eight-year-old friend start loving me unconditionally in a very short time. Tears came to my eyes. How can we be so instantly comfortable with one another? What confused me the most was that Louisa and I had never carried a conversation together.
Today, I learned something new. But not a random fact, or something you could learn from a textbook. I learned something you have to experience in order to fully understand. Although having a common language helps communication, it is not vital to a relationship. One’s actions can speak more than any common language. Further, one’s expressions of love and happiness can easily speak for themselves. Language is definitely a barrier, but it does not define a relationship. What truly counts is the love we share with each other.
Today I made a new friend. Not by talking about our common interests or sharing our “favorites”. No, we became friends through simple gestures, gestures of kindness and love.