brazil (79)

Back in Canada

After a long and drawn out return, with a 10 hour layover in New York City, I have finally returned home. My reintroduction to North America started with a day in NYC, luckily I have a cousin who was able to show me around, which was a much better alternative to spending the day in the airport. Back in Canada the first thing I noticed was the peace and quiet, as I live outside of the city limits. Not being woken up at 7am every morning by the school behind my apartment in Brazil blasting music, or hearing traffic and the hustle and bustle of daily life was nice, although a part of me does miss the chaotic aspects of live in Brazil. Boarding the flight from NYC to Calgary, most people stood quietly in line, minding their own business in the North American way. Life in Brazil had me accustomed to strangers greeting you in the elevator and hearing the constant chatter and conversation of the people around me. While both cultures have their aspects I appreciate, I do miss the warmth and energy that many people I interacted with in Brazil expressed. Overall, this experience was a great way to experience how a diffierent culture lives and interacts, and gave me a greater appreciation for how my future students, many of whom will be new to Canada, would feel living in a brand new cultural and linguistic environment. 

The photo I have chosen is from Iguazu falls in Brazil, days before my arrival in Goiânia. It reminds of how despite being the same person before and after this experience, I am leaving Brazil with a love for the language, food, music, dance and people, all of which, at the time this photo was taken, I was not aware of. I left with the same size bag as when I arrived, but I am full of all of the memories, experiences and new interests, which I did not have prior to this experience.


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Good old Goiania

Hello everyone,


I can’t believe our time here in Brazil is coming to an end. It has absolutely flown by! As things begin to wrap up I find myself reflecting on all the things I will miss here in Goiania, most notably the warmth of the people. We have been received with an overwhelming amount of hospitality and kindness down here in Brazil. People here are so eager to help us and ensure we are having a positive experience. It will be especially hard to return to the cold weather of Canada after this.


When we arrived and went to the local grocery store we were very lost. We didn’t recognize half of the fruits and vegetables when they asked for our CPF numbers we stared blankly, and we were blown away when they asked about many installments we would like to use to cover our bill. We have eaten our way through all the obscures fruits and veggies we could find. We understand that a CPF is a kind of like a SIN number, and only Brazilians have them. We realize that Brazilians don’t like paying the full cost upfront, but that there is nothing wrong with buying your groceries with one payment. Despite my best efforts, my Portuguese is still a little shaky, but the grocery store attendants have complimented my progress!


It has been such a great opportunity to observe a different pedagogy and continue to reflect on what my own teaching practices will look like and how they will have evolved after my time here on TAB.

*Attached is a photo of us at the Goiania zoo with our Protguesse Professure!* 

Thank you for everything Brazil, you will be missed!!!

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Run Your Race

To the Virgins, to Make Most of Time – Robert Herrick (1648)

I got a haircut this weekend over at friend’s place.  He set me up with a really nice barber, Fabio, who spoke some Spanish, so it was better than last haircut I got down here – which was the quietest haircut I had ever gotten!  Through the hour-long process of chatting and trimming, he mentioned that he used to have a boyfriend who lived in another country.  They were really serious, and his boyfriend wanted him to come down and get married so they could live together.  But Fabio was scared, and so he didn’t do it.  Now, here he was six years later, and he still regrets not having gone to get married to his now very ex-boyfriend.  “That opportunity has passed, and it’ll never come back,” he explained with a melancholy that transcends language barriers.

This week, we TABers were asked to write something a little more personal than the typical posts about being good ambassadors of the University of Calgary in our TAB experience, some sort of memorable event or personal insight.  And so, here’s my insight, to borrow from one of the best movies about teaching ever made: carpe diem.

If you’re on the fence about taking advantage of this TAB opportunity, if you’re wondering if you have enough money, or time, or strength, or patience, I would recommend one thing: you do.  Whatever you think might be holding you back isn’t.  The chance to study abroad through a program as well respected and supported as this one is an opportunity that should not be passed.  The University of Calgary has taken great steps to ensure your safety and success through this program, and you should not let this opportunity pass you up. 

Experiences like this one change lives. 

They enrich lives.  They challenge you. 

Take advantage of that challenge – you’ll be happy that you did!

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Wrapping Up

3689237741?profile=RESIZE_710xWOW! It has been two months already…time has flown by. Feels like a week ago we were meeting our coordinators, teachers, and students. Yesterday was our last official day with our school schedule here and it was quite sad knowing that our time here was coming to an end. We did a presentation about Canada at an English based high school and the students and teachers were flooding us with questions. Their excitement about where we were from made me feel a bit better about having to come back to Calgary so soon.

Things I miss about Calgary:

-having a regular body temperature (Goiania is HOT! With no A/C or fans in our apartment, I’m ready to get cold a couple of times before I’ll want to be back in the heat!)

-having bubbles from dish soap (I know it seems strange, but it is hard to believe you are getting dishes clean when there are no suds)

-flushing toilet paper (something people take for granted… having to empty garbage bins daily is not ideal)

-my bed and pillow

The thing I will miss most about Brazil is the friendly culture:

-Being smiled at/ greeted walking past someone reminds me that we are coexisting humans and that’s how it should be… cellphones have created a virtual world of conversation and takes away the authenticity of day to day life around other people…maybe smiling or saying good morning to someone could turn their day around because someone acknowledged them, try it !! It feels good.

-Getting a hug and a kiss on the cheek as a goodbye seems like a lot at first being outside the culture. Coming into it, Brazilians are so welcoming and family-oriented that it makes you feel apart of it. There is an extra level of interconnectedness and caring between people here and it is AMAZING!

-Being welcomed with open arms by our coordinator, teachers, staff and friends we have made has been very special. Being a part of our Portuguese professor’s birthday celebration with his family after only meeting him briefly seemed strange at first, but we went, had traditional foods and learned a dance move or two. Our coordinator made us a traditional Brazilian meal (feijoada) that was hosted at a university student’s (and friend) family home. They were so happy to host us and have invited us back for one last BBQ before we depart.

I am so grateful to have had this incredible opportunity and making connections with people here. Until next time Brazil, I will be back as soon as I can!!!! <3


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Missing Acai Already

I take a sip of coffee and inhale deeply. It is my last morning here in Goiania, and as excited as I am to be going home and seeing my loved ones, jumping back into the activities I love, and being in nature I am a little sad. It feels like in the blink of an eye the past two months have just disappeared.  3689131347?profile=RESIZE_710x3689121392?profile=RESIZE_710x

This experience has challenged me, pushed me out of my comfort zone, taught me things about myself I never knew, and given me the opportunity to truly understand what it is like to be an English Language Learner (ELL). With every experience there are ups and downs. Living with five people in three-bedroom apartment is no easy feat. Not being able to communicate with people, can be challenging and frustrating at times. But you learn to communicate with each other, take your space, follow your heart, and do what you need to do to be happy.

3689137916?profile=RESIZE_710xI believe all of us are walking away from this experience with new ideas and perspectives on education. Given the opportunity to observe in a public middle school, we learned how to not only communicate without English, but how to just observe and learn from student-teacher interactions. The language school offered the opportunity to see how English is taught as a second language and the private school showed us just how different the two school systems are here in Brazil. Reflecting on it all now, the lessons learned throughout this trip have helped me already to become a better teacher. I understand what it is like to not understand or be able to communicate like an ELL student in a Canadian classroom. I have become more comfortable communicating WITHOUT words and understand the value of a simple interaction when you both leave understanding.

I exhale. My bags are packed. I have learned. I have laughed. I have cried. I have sweat more than I could ever imagine just sitting drinking a glass of water.

Will I ever come back to Goiania? No probably not. Should you come to Goiania, Brazil for TAB? Yes! 100%!


3689131736?profile=RESIZE_710xWhat I have learned living in Goiania, Brazil

  • I love Acai and could eat it everyday for the rest of my life.3689119623?profile=RESIZE_710x
  • A fresh coconut a day keeps you smiling and feeling good.
  • Cooking in your oven is not really a thing…it is just too HOT.
  • Everyone is extremely friendly and curious to know where you are from and WHY you are in Goiania of all places.
  • It is not that dangerous…just take normal precautions as you would do traveling anywhere.
  • Pamoha is delicious.
  • Student – teacher relationships are much different then home.
  • Don’t get an apartment without AC or you will die a little.
  • Portuguese is hard to learn, but if you show you are trying people appreciate it.
  • The fruit is amazing!
  • Brazil time is a thing.
  • The parks are a nice escape from thee city.
  • It is not that hard OR scary to drive in Brazil.
  • You will learn more than you can ever imagine!



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Full of Culture...and FOOD!

Brazil has been full of cultural experiences. Having the opportunity to be apart of different types of schools (public, private, and language learning centres) has shown how assess to education and privilege can differ educational experiences. 3678454742?profile=RESIZE_710x

We had the opportunity to travel to Rio de Janiero and went on a hike that started in a favela. A favela is considered the slum areas in Brazil. Our tour guide educated us on what favela life generally entails and we were able to see the second largest favela in South America from the top of the mountain. It was shocking to learn that directly beside this favela, was one of the most expensive private schools and areas to live in Rio. The socioeconomic status divide in Rio is very visible and made me reflect on what impacts this has on education. 3551954815?profile=RESIZE_710x

On a lighter note, we have been eagerly trying as many chances to eat our favorite Brazilian foods before heading back to Canada. It will be sad to come home to limited and very expensive produce choices when we have been used to all the fruits imaginable. Who knew cashews had a fruit… because I sure did not! 

Some of my favorite foods have included: acai bowls, pamonha (blended corn with cheese, and other fillings wrapped in a corn husk and boiled), brigadeiro (delicious chocolate truffles), and all the new fruits that we find at the store.

9 more days until I have to face the cold!!! 3678457450?profile=RESIZE_710x

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A great lesson in PUC Idiomas...

Time flies so fast when you need it to slow down a little bit. That is my feeling for the last month in Brazil. We traveled a lot and had the chance to see the beautiful scenery, and most importantly, we made lots of friends here. I would never forget the human interaction, especially with the students. I finished the presentation of introducing Canada to the Brazilian students in PUC Languages ​​and Extension Center with Chelsea. We are so happy to observe how English language learners practice speaking English with the help of the teacher. Whenever the students are having difficulties speaking English, we would wait for the response patiently and encourage them to take time and slow down a bit. During the teaching process, we also respect students' living experience when comparing the similarities and differences of the landscape between Brazil and Canada. We ask students to participate by sharing their opinions on the presentation and we receive positive feedback from the students and the teacher. It is the first time that I teach ELLs in a foreign classroom and I feel fantastic! I am so glad I get such a great chance to use my body language and eye contact in my teaching. It is so helpful and I will continue to develop my communication skills with ELL in my future practice!

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The Home Stretch

As we enter the final two weeks of our experience I can hardly believe that 6 weeks has already flown by. We recently had the opportunity to experience other parts of Brazil, and were able to truly appreciate the diversity this country has to offer. Being able to apply what we learned in our Portugeuse classes with people from other parts of Brazil and learning about the different colloquial expressions and accents was a great experience, and truly demonstrated the complexity of the Portugeuse language and its geographic variations. We also had the opportunity to visit the local zoo here in Goiânia with our Portugeuse teacher, which demonstrated authentic learning, as our lesson was based around flora and fauna, which would have been a completely different experience simply learning in a classroom without the real-life examples in front of us. Our last two weeks will hold a variety of presentations in the schools and language institutes we have been in, and saying good byes to the incredibly kind and welcoming people we have met here.

The next post I write will be from Canada!



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Where has the time gone?


After a relaxing ten-day vacation in Florianopolis and Rio we are jumping back into the heat and life here in Goiania. As online classes start to come to an end we are buckling down and getting our work done.

This week we will get to teach an English lesson on Canadian Sports at PUC Idiomas the English language school here. The students are eager to learn and full of questions. I am looking forward to the learning experience and interactions I will get to have with the students as we work together and help each other through language barriers.


We will also be saying goodbye at the middle school this week. It has been an amazing experience to observe even with a language barrier. I have learned a lot about classroom management and the differences between public school in Brazil and Canada. The community and culture in the school has also been amazing to see. It is something I would love to see back at home in our schools. Students coming together to create performances and events for the community. I think it really shows the connection between the teaching staff, student, and community.

3672889397?profile=RESIZE_710xOur little getaway though was a great opportunity to experience some Brazilian culture and soak in a little sunshine and beach time as we are in Brazil after all! We got to go samba dancing, learn about the Favelas in Rio and history behind them, see some of the National parks, and experience southern Brazil! It gave me a great appreciation for 

Brazil and a better understanding of the Brazilian culture. Living in Goiania has been a fantastic experience, but taking some time to see the coast and other parts of Brazil has given me a new appreciation for Brazil and the culture here.

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More than halfway there!

Dear TABers, it has been more than halfway and so far the visiting was fabulous. As we are entering almost the ending of the program, we are given instructions from the teachers of PUC Idiomas to teach more content. When we have extra time, we are also planning to go on a trip somewhere in Brazil besides our teaching and learning time. I went to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil last weekend. There are some wonderful museums and attractions to visit. I personally prefer the urban designs and the city structures of Brasilia. There are lots of green and the landscape is so different than Goiania. This is a picture of me standing in front of the present office. They are changing the Brazilian national flag the Sunday when I am there. I missed the ceremony but there will always be the next time. I would come back again to visit more cities in Brazil. It was such a wonderful place.

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Updates from Brazil!

Posted on behalf of Annecy, one of our Brazil TABers

Wow! A month has flown by already… but what an amazing experience it has been. My understanding of Portuguese is improving slowly, even the grocery store employee commented on our ability to understand and communicate being better, so I will take that as a win. Our next Portuguese classes are field trips to the zoo to practice directional terms and animals, and a trip to the supermarket for a scavenger hunt of foods we have learned. What a fun and authentic way of learning and I know I will be reviewing the foods before the hunt! Our small amount of Portuguese managed to get us local entry pricing to a National Park, so I guess we are starting to fit the part.

We have been able to visit 3 different schools while we have been here, one being a municipal junior high, one a language learning program for after school, and one private institution. I was able to teach a small art lesson at the municipal school. I was able to communicate in French to the teacher, and she translated into Portuguese. It was amazing to see all the students engaging in the lesson, as the school has some issues with students’ willingness to learn and behavioural problems. Watching the art teacher with her classes, I have realized that she has acquired their respect through building relationships with them and starting each class with a bold statement that the class is required to reflect on. For example, “What are we emanating into the universe? And what are we getting back?”. Her message for them that class was gratitude. Listening to the students discuss this message was very powerful and I believe that her ability to help them build their character, will help these students become positive and strong individuals of society. The other two schools are less accessible to all, as they come with a cost. It acknowledges that the access to schooling and resources can be greatly influenced by one’s socioeconomic status.

One more month to go and I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities and experiences coming our way!

Until next time,

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Museums in Goiania

Hello again dear readers!

Here in Brazil we’ve had the opportunity of being hosted in, and guided through a number of museums run by PUC, the University we are partnered with here in Goiania. The first museum was highlighting the life work of Jesko, a photographer, and videographer who dedicated his life to documenting the Indigenous people here in Brazil. A professor from PUC University who is a specialist on Jesko’s works accompanied us through the museum. We watched a short documentary and saw a number of photos representing the lifestyle and class structure of sixty-seven different tribes. I found this museum incredibly interesting, as I was able to relate some of the things I saw and learned to my learning’s in the Indigenous Educations course I am currently taking through the University of Calgary.

The second museum was an anthropology museum, which was also run through PUC University. Prior to this I had had very litter exposure to anthropology. We were able to examine pieces of pottery and tools that had been used and created here in Brazil up to two thousand years ago!! There were objects, which seemed to be to be just small rocks or stones, which the anthropology professors explained to us had actually been tools. This could only be known through small ridges on the stone, which were invisible to the naked eye. Meaning in order to find this piece of history it is necessary to leave no stone unturned! I was amazed by how meticulous anthropology studies are.  This was a powerful learning experience for me and completed me to be thinking of ways that I am able to included and anthropological studies into my classroom in the future. 

The final museum we went to which really capture my attention was the natural history museum. This museum focused largely on the ecosystem we are a part of here in Goiania. The museum showed the experience humans have had heard since their arrival. There was also a section of the museum that reminded me of Heritage Park! There was a historical town that had been recreated, complete with schoolrooms and traditional homes. There were also two types of Indigenous villages that had been recreated in order to see how people had lived in the past. It was so interesting to see this history come to life! I have attached a photo of one of the Indigenous villages which was recreated. 

Look forward to sharing more of my learnings with you in the future!

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Touchy Technology

Another week, another new school to visit!  This time, it was to one of the best private schools in Goiania.  For the first time, I saw a teacher use an overhead projector and student technology (smartphones for a Kahoot).  Ironically enough, the internet was spotty – just like any given school in Calgary!  This school was absolutely beautiful.  With courses from preschool to pre-university, this complex located right in the middle of the city had a little bit of everything.  In the elementary building, they had everything from Biology to Yoga with well equipped classrooms and colourfully decorated common spaces.  I wonder if the students realize how lucky they are to have such great facilities and it definitely makes me grateful for the learning spaces we’ve developed in Calgary.

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Classroom Experiences

A highlight from the last few weeks was team-teaching a lesson with my fellow tabber and roomate Maddy, with the assistance of the history teacher, Fernanda, at our placement school Marechal Castello Branco. Our lesson was delivered in Portugeuse, with the assistance of Fernanda, and focused on the history of Canada, specifically from the years 1900-1930. This time frame was chosen because in the students previous classes they had been learning about Brazilian history during that time frame, so our presentation presented significant events from the same time period in Canada. It was great to see how curious and excited the students were to learn not only about the history of Canada, but about Canada in general as well. 


Time truly has flown, and is continuing to fly as we are now past the halfway point of this experience. Soudade is a portugeuse word which has no direct translation in english but can be most closely described as a feeling of longing for a person or place. While I have not left Brazil, I am sure that once I am back in Canada I will have soudade for the people and places I have come to know here.

Until next time,



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Life in Brazil

Boa Tarde!

 It is hard to believe I have been in Brazil for a month now! We continue to discover new little spots just steps from our apartment like the gelato shop down the block that we will very quickly become late night regulars at…we even got a loyalty card! The weather has finally started to cool off a little, making it more bearable and comfortable for everyday activities and sleeping, but still warm enough for daily gelato!

This past week we finalized the rest of our schedule for the next month and I am very excited for the experiences to come! We have been observing at a middle school on Monday and Wednesday mornings which we will continue to do, as well as our weekly Portuguese classes, but we have now added observing and helping at PUCI Idiomas the English language school run through the University. The students are all in their teens and we have been split into different classes which are based on the student’s English levels. We attended the first class yesterday and the students were so keen to learn English, it was very inspiring. With such few people speaking English here in Goiania, or being comfortable to speak the English they know, I really enjoyed seeing so many young students eager to learn. I look forward to what we will learn about teaching through this experience as my partner teacher is very keen to work with me and share his knowledge and tools for teaching English as a second language.


3638916960?profile=RESIZE_710xI remember getting on the plane 25 days ago, so uncertain of the journey I was about to embark on. Everyday I am learning new things and becoming more and more comfortable living with a language barrier and learning how to communicate through broken Portuguese/ English and hand gestures. As the journey continues, I know there will be lots of learning and teachable moments to gain from. Already I know that this experience has helped to change my perspective on ELL students and my role as an educator.


After a quick little weekend getaway with the girls to Iguazu falls I am ready for the next month of learning and adventure!


Til next time!!!







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Galavanting in Goiania!


We’ve heard through the grape vine that the weather in Calgary has taken a turn, and it is snowing in September. I’m here to report that it is finally cooling down in Goiania as well; the temperature has dropped to below 35 degrees Celsius!

We are really beginning to settle into a routine here in Goiania. On Monday and Wednesday mornings, we observe a junior high classroom in partners. Dexter is my teaching partner and we have been lucky enough to teach a few small lessons on Canadian history and geography. This is more easily said then done as none of the students or teachers speaks English. Thankful Dexter has picked up Portuguese very quickly and I am wonderful at charades so we are able to get by! It’s been such a blast teaching in these classes and every week we are coming up with new excuses to do another mini lesson on Canada. (I’ve attached a photo of what it looks like when my charades fails!)

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we observe an English course at a language teaching facility run by PUC, the university we are working with here. These courses are extracurricular activities for students who are interested in studying languages. As a result, the students are all super excited to be there, and the classroom environment is much more relaxed. On my first visit to the class, the teacher asked all of the students to come sit in front of Erik and I while we conducted a mini interview. Some of the students were shy, while others couldn’t wait to tell us everything. We learned about their favourite soccer teams, music, sports, food and siblings. I had a really great time trying to get each student to open up and share with us. It’s been an amazing opportunity to get continue to develop the skills that will allow me to build relationships with students in the future.

Portuguese lessons continue to be a struggle, but maybe my next blog post will be solely in Portuguese!! It has been incredibly interesting to see how our professor teaches us and keeps us all engaged. I may be learning more about education than Portuguese, but it was been a wonderful experience. 

All and all Brazil is AWESOME, and I cannot wait to enjoy my next month here!!!!

Until next time!

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Program at PUC

We began a new series of class visits this week at a new School.  We’re with late junior high school / early high school students in a tuition-based institute for language acquisition.  The institute offers classes in English, French, Spanish, German and Mandarin.  In the Intermediate English class that I attended, there were 16 students with varying levels of Intermediate English.  I was really impressed with their willingness to participate in the class – especially because the teacher had them sit in front of a us and tell us a little about themselves one at a time – ‘hot seat’ style.  While some students needed prompts, most were comfortable speaking up for themselves on their own.  This class is considerably quieter than the classes I witnessed at the public school, but since this is an optional program, I wonder if they’ve got a different level of commitment. 

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Adventure goes on...

 It has been almost 3 weeks after landed in Goiania, Brazil. My body has been gradually getting used to the climate here. It had been a dry month so far with 35 to 39 degree every day. I am trying different fruits and food now and then. This week, we had the chance to visit PUC Idiomas and met the kids for the very first time. We will be here every Tuesday helping teachers to teach students English. The students are lovely and very active to ask questions. During this process, we also observed lots of different teaching methods in terms of ELL learning. Even though the time has passed so fast during the first three weeks, I feel that our adventure has just started. I can't wait to see what is waiting for us.

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Surprise City

What a surprise city in the middle of Brazil.  I purposefully didn’t research too much about Goiania before heading down here – I didn’t want to have too many preconceived notions.  Taking on a journey like this is built on an openness to new experiences and I wanted to come down with as open a mind as possible. But this week, while giving a presentation on Calgary, conversation drifted to comparing the two cities.  And, to find out, they’re not too unsimilar.  Both have about 1.5 million people and have comparable geographic areas.  In fact, in class I put a Google Map of Goiania next to a Google Map of Calgary at the same zoom level, to see that they’re nearly identical.  One major difference that I still wonder about is the fact that there seem to be many more high-rise apartment and office buildings in Goiania than Calgary.  We’re surrounded by several 20+ story apartment complexes and have yet to find ‘downtown’ – but the population densities of the two cities are somehow comparable.  The students were surprised to see a picture of a moose right outside more home, but they’ve got monkeys here in a park within walking distance from our apartment – so go figure!

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Goiânia so far!

While it feels like yesterday that I arrived here in Goiania, two weeks have already flown by! So far we have had the opportunity to meet locals, attend a traditional Brazilian birthday party, eat bottomless Brazilian BBQ, try Acai for the first time, and travel to a beautiful waterfall among many other things!


Last week we had our first day in the school where we will be volunteering, the students and faculty were all incredibly warm and welcoming. This past saturday we attended an event at the school, where we saw the children perform a variety of events and enactments, which illustrated the complex combination of local and religious beliefs. In addition to watching the performances, which the students had been preparing since this February, we had the opportunity to try a variety of local foods which were being sold at the event including caldo do frango, a chicken stew, and Guarana, a soft drink made from the extract of the Guarana plant which grows in Brazil. 

This coming week we will have two cultural outings, during which we will be accompanied by students from the history department from the university who will take us to local museums and culturally significant parts of the city, in addition to our weekly Portugeuse lesson and our lessons at the school. 

See you in a few weeks!



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