While I began packing my bag the night before I realized I would be off to Brazil for a week, I had a pile of mixed emotions the height of the Eiffel tower. I went to sleep that night secretly hoping that tomorrow wouldn’t come. I did everything to get prepared for Brazil, took all the classes, went through the interview process and made it but I never really envisioned this day coming.
It was the first time I would be traveling without my mom and on top of that this was my first time traveling abroad. I was freaked out!
Our group – HEAF – The Harlem Educational Activity Fund got to Brazil 12:30 pm the next day and as soon as we got there our tour guide was waiting for us and immediately started treating us a though we were family. We ate an amazing lunch; chicken and rice Brazilian style with acai fruit. Later we went on a tour of the surroundings and went to visit the markets where we were allowed to call home.
For the entire week we went to visit so many organizations and schools doing good things for the Afro-Brazilian youth. With each stop we were all made to feel like family and there was a cultural exchange. We came bearing American gifts and the Brazilian youth loved the Yankee baseball caps the most! There were three parts of the trip that really stood out to me. One was when we danced Capoiera, which is a form of martial arts. Also when we went to visit Project Axe- a community organization, and I will never forget the Brazilian block party. The nights we spent in Brazil were filled with music, laughter, and excitement. We were able to connect with the residents in Brazil through dance, and we danced so hard we made it rain. It was like dancing the electric slide the Brazilian way! One day in particular was very special because we were going to get the opportunity to show what we learned in Capoiera class to one of the outstanding Brazilian masters. We went to the studio of an amazing Capoiera teacher and each person got to join into the game but me. At a point I thought I was going to be in Brazil and not be able to play the game of Capoiera. That was not the case because when we got to the school were we were doing our community service, which was to clean up the entire school, we played again with the students from the school and I might not have been able to play well but I did play.
Of all my time in Brazil my Project Axe experience was the most amazing. I went crazy when I learned there was a fashion display. There were beautiful dresses made out of paper Mache. All the lovely ladies creating designs and they did it just to have something to do – a favorite pastime. They were not planning to become designers, they simply enjoyed their craft. As a matter of fact most wanted to become doctors and lawyers. In my mind if they did become fashion designers they could make it big in the fashion industry. They were beyond talented they were creating vogue quality outfits out of bottle caps and straw it was just breath taking to look at it gave me chills. You could see joy all across my face. That had to be hands down for me the best part of Brazil!
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