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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16


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    [post_title] => An Experience in 6 Words
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An Experience in 6 Words

Samantha Goerger,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

Good luck figuring out what this is about…

Posted On

06/27/16

Author

Samantha Goerger

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    [post_content] => As an enthusiastic Classicist, a student of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek, I embarked on my Bridge Year confident about my knowledge of languages, ready to delve into a "living" language - one whose existence is not bound to recovered copies of historical texts and documents, but rather one which breathes expression into the lives of 220,000,000 Brazilians. Upon first glance this language operated just like the oldies - present, imperfect, aorist; infinitives, conjunctions and periphrasis. But after a superficial glance, one begins to perceive a difference between reading Cicero's diatribe against Catiline in 63 BC, one veiled by 2000 years of cultural disjunction, and hearing a living and breathing woman recount the difficulties of her past life in the Brazilian badlands, the Sertão.

The difference of course is that Classical Latin is a fossilized snapshot of a monied aristocracy of time gone by; a collection of Odes and Epodes made to a small patrician sector of society; a body of formal and often highly political literature that cannot truly encompass the feelings and experiences of an entire people. Not to mention that the lexicons of these languages are defined only by those words that can be found in the limited number of manuscripts. It was from this world of formal and normative grammar systems that I was thrust into the bustling and vibrant world of Candeal. All I know is that after nine months here, I am astounded by the sheer size of a language. The complexities and subtleties. All of the varying sub levels of formality. The slang. All of the neologisms and compound words, intricacies that one only encounters in a language that defines a nation's collective experience. Portuguese is a language spoken by an entire culture, a language that changes with its people, one that has been influenced by Tupi Guarani, by Yorubá, by English. It's two friends in the street discussing their favorite sneaker brands. It's my my host mom telling me about her day at work. It's me trying to teach my students the intricacies of my own tongue, so foreign to them, in a language foreign to me.

The largest difference for me was forcing myself to incorporate the language into my being in a much more significant way - I was no longer deciphering the complex literary devices of Vergil, but rather trying to express myself through words entirely new to me. I was no longer a passive reader, but rather an actor, one tasked with learning to assimilate all of these little peculiarities into my being and then connect with a foreign culture through them. Portuguese still has a formal and beautiful literature - the Amados, Drummonds, Saramagos and Camõeses; but beyond that, it is a tool for communication and a central aspect of the lives of the many people I've come to know here, as well as now my own.
    [post_title] => Língua Morta, Língua Viva
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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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Língua Morta, Língua Viva

Michael Milam,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

As an enthusiastic Classicist, a student of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek, I embarked on my Bridge Year confident about my knowledge of languages, ready to delve into a “living” language – one whose existence is not bound to recovered copies of historical texts and documents, but rather one which breathes expression into the lives […]

Posted On

06/25/16

Author

Michael Milam

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    [post_content] => One of the first activities we've done on "transference," our last-week retreat designed to close out Bridge Year in a reflective mindset, was writing a poem about one of the most important or transformational moments each of us experienced during our time here. In a unique format that practiced discipline and our ability to be concise in our means of expression, we first wrote the poem in exactly thirty words, then pared it down to twenty, then ten, and finally six. With each edit, we could take away words, add new words or write something entirely different, as long as the meaning of the poem was retained. We were free to use any poetic format we pleased.

I wrote my poem about one of the most magical musical moments I experienced, when the band I was playing in at JAM no MAM, a wildly popular, city-supported weekly jazz jam session, hit the downbeat on Freddie Freeloader, a blues popularized by trumpet legend Miles Davis.

 

Smoky Odor

30

Freddie Freeloader commands order in order to organize some semblance of mortar in the midst of this jazz band's smoky odor. Our jazz is chaos that only Miles Davis can control.

20

Freddie Freeloader commands order in order to organize some semblance of mortar in the midst of this band's smoky odor.

 

10

Freddie commands order to organize mortar in this smoky odor.

6

Freddie commands order in smoky odor.

 

Which iteration was your favorite?

 
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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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A Poem in 30 Words

William Grear,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

One of the first activities we’ve done on “transference,” our last-week retreat designed to close out Bridge Year in a reflective mindset, was writing a poem about one of the most important or transformational moments each of us experienced during our time here. In a unique format that practiced discipline and our ability to be […]

Posted On

05/31/16

Author

William Grear

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Back in October when we had first arrived in Salvador, the group was touring various service sites as we began to sort out who would volunteer where. I came to Brazil knowing I wanted do something within the realm of sustainability and hopefully with respect to plants, so I was particularly excited for our meeting with Débora from Canteiros Coletivos, an urban gardening organization that on paper seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. But when we rolled up in front of Gantois (one of Salvadors’ neighborhoods in which Canteiros has helped to establish community gardens) and were introduced to a favela that to my naïve eyes appeared dirty, dangerous, and disorderly, I was a bit apprehensive. The prospect of coming to Gantois by myself and either teaching English or mobilizing planting projects struck me as a task that, while potentially super rewarding, would be extremely difficult.

            I made the right decision, however, by standing by my interest in urban gardening and pursuing Canteiros Coletivos as my service site. Not only because volunteering with Canteiros evolved into an opportunity to take care of seedlings in the nursery, lead and participate in urban gardening interventions throughout Salvador, and also get to know a community of incredible environmentalists, artists, and activists. But also because of Gantois in itself: by teaching English to two local boys who have planted alongside Canteiros for the past few years, this special little community has become one of my absolute favorite places in the city.

            Every Thursday I hop off the bus on Avenida Anita Garibaldi, say hello to Paulo (an old timer who sells medicinal herbs on the street corner), and begin the ten or so minute walk to the Sena’s, my English students, home in the heart of Gantois. As I make my way deeper into the community and further from the main avenue, the houses and the spaces between them grow increasingly smaller. Children playing, men and women chatting, and the occasional fruit vender marketing his product with determined enthusiasm begin to fill the streets. And the plants and artwork that Canteiros Coletivos has helped to create and cultivate over the past few years materialize. Once I turn a corner and come out on the other end of a narrow alley that brings me to center of the community, the little girls and boys that I have gotten to know these past few months pop out of their homes and literally attach themselves to my arms and legs. Once I manage to the shake the little monkeys off (promising to quickly return), I slip past a wrought-iron gate and stroll down another narrow path bordered by more small colorful homes and pockets of Atlantic rainforest, finally arriving at the Sena’s tiny but clean and comfortable home. Here I find my students, Yuri Sena (17) and his friend Hugo (14), hanging out on the couch with their notebooks in hand. Yuri’s mom Rita is a bit further back in the connecting kitchen, cooking up something delicious for lunch. And baby sister Maria (2) is stumbling and sometimes dancing about the house as her aunt Sheila (25) tries to get her bathed and dressed for school. They all warmly welcome me into their familial orchestra and our class begins.

            Yuri, Hugo, and I gather around the small table in the pink living room, Maria crawling about our feet. We start with basic introductory phrases… the response to “Hugo, what’s your name” sometimes being “my favorite color is blue” or “I love lasagna.” When it comes to counting, however, Hugo finds his rhythm and sings the number line to the beat of a Brazilian song. And Yuri, who is older and a bit more advanced, can tell you about his plans to travel to the United States or England in the past, present, and future ;) He is also always eager to chat about American politics, finding the latest Apple vs. FBI conflict rather comical and Donald Trump’s candidacy even more so. Then Sheila, once relieved by Maria’s departure for school, will hop in and identify the color of every object in the room. And our class eventually evolves into a fun Portenglish conversation through which we exchange the idiosyncrasies of our respective cultures: sharing music recommendations, favorite foods, and slang.

            Our classes have also taken a hands-on form. Every other week or so, we’ll walk around the community checking in on the plants that have been there since Canteiros’ first actions in Gantois. A little weeding here, a little watering there, and an exchange of gardening and nature vocabulary along the way. And Yuri will occasionally take a machete to a stalk of cane sugar so we can chew on the sweet fibrous plant as we stroll. We have also just finished working on a map that identifies by street and scientific name some of the trees and plants that border a nearby avenue. The next step is painting and mounting little wooden plaques so that Solteropolitanos passing by are able to distinguish the cajazeira (cashew tree) from the castenheira (chesnut tree). This project, in particular, has really inspired us to learn the names of plants that none of us previously knew… in any language ;) Anyways, these supplemental gardening activities not only enable Hugo and Yuri to engage their developing language skills in a more practical way, but also maintain a connection with the plants that they have for a few years now watched grow. One of Canteiros primary goals, after all, is to empower Salvador’s low-income communities through the entire planting-process: germination, growth, and preservation.

While our classes tend to take twists and turns, I can always count on one of Rita’s delicious lunches. After spending an hour or two amidst the intoxicating smell of feijoada, moqueca, or any other traditional Brazilian dish simmering in the kitchen, a full plate is set before me with a vibrant glass of mango or pineapple juice on the side. I always come to Gantois with an appetite and can’t help but dig in semi-ravishly the second my food arrives. Rita smiles. She would like to open a restaurant (and certainly should) but is held back by the initial expense. So I’ve told her to come back to New York with me and sell Comida Baiana at street fairs. Don’t be surprised if Rita Sena is featured in Zagat New York’s next publication.

So a community that was at once daunting and served as a reminder of how different and foreign I am has become just the opposite: a welcoming shelter. A few weeks ago it began to downpour (or cai cacao -- fall chocolate – as Brazilians say) the second I got off the bus in front of Gantois. With a solid ten-, fifteen-minute walk ahead of me, I scurried over to Paulo’s herb-stand thinking I’d wait it out. But lacking the patience that seems to keep Baianas beneath storefronts during these moments of intermittent but strong rain, I only lasted a couple minutes before deciding to brace the weather and make a run for it. I could have walked at a snail’s pace or even taken a dip in the ocean and wouldn’t have been any more drenched upon arrival at Yuri’s front door. So I was particularly grateful when Sheila came to the door with a warm towel and brought me upstairs to change into some of her own clothes. I’ve never looked (or felt) more Brazilian than I did that day wearing her floral romper. The point being, however, that Gantois and the Sena home in particular literally adopted its role as a refuge from Salvador’s occasional storms.

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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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Gantois Gate

Anna Marsh,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

Back in October when we had first arrived in Salvador, the group was touring various service sites as we began to sort out who would volunteer where. I came to Brazil knowing I wanted do something within the realm of sustainability and hopefully with respect to plants, so I was particularly excited for our meeting […]

Posted On

05/31/16

Author

Anna Marsh

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    [post_content] => It was clear from the very first day that I arrived in my homestay in Candeal that there was a very stark difference between me and my host family. This daunting contrast initially filled me with worry and uncertainty as I stepped, not only into a different language and culture but, into a place where people had a very different value system than my own. But to be perfectly clear, however large the differences seemed, they never made me dislike my homestay experience or diminished how much I appreciated the kindness, concern, and genuine affection the community and my host family offered me.

The first night I walked into my homestay with a guitar in my hand, an unseemly large bulk on my back, khakis and a polo damp with sweat from the balmy tropical night, my face red from the strain of carrying all my things up the steep road leading up to the house, my heart bumping out a breakneck samba beat in my chest as each step brought me closer to seeing where I would be living for the next seven months. I proceeded behind my homestay sister and mother up the two flights of stairs to our third floor house. After settling in for a couple minutes my host father, Elias, turned on the TV and we all sat in the living room exchanging awkward pleasantries and questions while half watching the television program. The show was a Brazilian rendition of the biblical story of Moses and the Jews. A ruckus of screams and shouting started downstairs and I asked what it was. They told me it was the church on top of which we lived that congregated every other day. My host sister offered me the password to the wifi, which happened to be "Feliz Com Jesus". To me it all seemed to fall into place in that moment. I felt trapped. Religion and faith are topics that are rarely brought up in the social circles I frequent in the United States, and often make me feel uncomfortable when discussed in any setting. And now I would be living in a household with people for whom religion is an integral, active, and visible part of their lives.

At the time I foresaw numerous clashes that would arise from casual conversations or discussions on myriad topics as two very different worldviews met, each with different views on social issues, predestination, marriage, love, and much more. I worried about how I would act in situations where sensitive issues came up, and whether I would remain silent or express my views and risk offending them. My main worry was making an affront to their sacred beliefs when they had already generously opened their home and shared their lives with me.

Finally one week into my homestay experience, the first dreaded discussion arose on the topic of organized religion. I sighed deeply, and thought to myself, that it was going to be my last night in my home stay house. My host sister, Carla, described her relationship with the Baptist church that functioned on the first floor of our building. While I discussed my agnosticism and skepticism of certain religious institutions and dogmas. Even when it was clear that we had incredibly different mindsets and values, neither one of us lashed out or retreated from the conversation as we sat there for hours trading ideas, viewpoints, and experiences. In hindsight I cannot imagine that conversation going any other way, but in the moment I was relieved and surprised we found agreement on a couple issues as well as respect for each other when it came to things we disagreed about. We had another conversation like that one and then another and then another. Some of them had tense moments, but never did they deviate from the cordial and respectful dialogue we had established. I attended my family's church several times, including on New Year's Eve, and I learned more about a different worldview and the role of faith and the church in urban working-class Bahian communities like Candeal.

I continue to have certain issues with major religious institutions and their doctrines, but this experience has encouraged me to grapple with questions regarding personal values and the greater truths of existence. Through this experience I have managed to, within my own mind, counter some of the negative preconceptions and assumptions that had been instilled within me about people with strong religious devotion and conservative values. Overall, I have developed my ability to respectfully dialogue with people with different worldviews and perspectives. Carla and I do not always agree on issues of faith, religion, and social values, but that has not impeded us from becoming like siblings. With her I learned that the goal should not be to try to reconcile two, arguably incompatible, perspectives, but to accept the differences and learn from each other's reality in search of the commonalities that link everybody's experience, perhaps in the hopes of finding hints to a larger human truth.

I have applied said approach in various discussions with people in Brazil. One of the most poignant was with Carla. One day she explained I was brought to Brazil by a higher power, while I saw it as having had the good fortune of being selected for this amazing opportunity by the Bridge Year Program because of my interests, qualifications, and potential. In the end we left it as an open-ended question with many acceptable responses we go back and forth about to this day. Through this experience I have defined and broadened my mindset when it comes to issues of faith, religion, and value systems, and started to make an effort to cut through the barriers that have been consciously and subconsciously erected to separate people and prevent prima facia differences from obscuring my perception of a person. I have come to realize it's not necessarily productive to debate what/who sent me here, and may or may not be responsible for our existence. But rather appreciate the moments I get to share with people and utilize my opportunities to form meaningful and enriching relationships. But when those debates come up about what/who is responsible for the wonderful world we enjoy, it will be a conversation I am more prepared and open to engage in than ever before.
    [post_title] => What/Who
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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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What/Who

Nathan Poland,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

It was clear from the very first day that I arrived in my homestay in Candeal that there was a very stark difference between me and my host family. This daunting contrast initially filled me with worry and uncertainty as I stepped, not only into a different language and culture but, into a place where […]

Posted On

05/31/16

Author

Nathan Poland

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Back in February, I watched a Youtube video by MinuteEarth on biodiversity and soil quality. It is revealed that the two most diverse places in the biosphere are the bushes in interior Australia and the Amazon rainforest. Contrary to first instinct, both places are known to have rather thin and poor soil. The logic behind this is that because of malnutrition, taller species are not able to grow fully and monopolize the light, heat, water, etc, thus leaving space and resources for smaller species to occupy.

Apparently, the Amazon was a bit out of reach. However, hiking in the Vale do Pati (the famous trekking route in interior Bahia) last week, I could not help but notice that there was indeed only a thin layer of hard, sandy soil on the surface of the stones, but the open meadow between the mountains is still crowded with hundreds of species of different orchids, bushes and other plants I could not identify. Their roots wind together and hold fast to the thin soil, making it steady and unbreakable. The uncultivated nature and its exquisite way of functioning was definitely a sublime picture.

By analogy, during the past nine months in Brazil, I was always amazed by its richness of diversity, especially in the careers and lifestyles people choose for themselves. In fact, one of the greatest lessons Brazil has taught me is that there is not one and only way of living a fulfilling life. It comes from Joas and Drica and GAP, who see great treasure in the trash that is thrown away; it comes from the artisans at ARSOL, who honor the inherited techniques and transmit love and creativity through their products; it comes from Marcos, my IEA mentor, who believes in the transformative power of spray paint and street art; it comes from Clei, our guide in Chapada, whose life is a non-stop journey (in flip-flops, for sure); and of course, it comes from my host families in Candeal and Palmeiras, the taxi drivers, Alex and Debora, people dancing Samba and applauding sunsets in Barra… Coming from a generally more conforming society, I was deeply impressed by learning from and taking part in their life stories: some parts are overwhelming and crazy while others are amazing and inspirational. I admire the stories not only because they are from eminent and committed figures, but also because Brazil offers the magic soil – certainly not the richest economically speaking, but a wide spectrum of social diversity and inclusiveness.

If I could keep anything from Brazil, I wish it could be the courage and creativity to see that even the simplest life implies infinite layers of possibilities and adventures, and the power and grace to master them and eventually dwell there.

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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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A Terra Mágica (The magic soil)

Yunzi Shi,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

Back in February, I watched a Youtube video by MinuteEarth on biodiversity and soil quality. It is revealed that the two most diverse places in the biosphere are the bushes in interior Australia and the Amazon rainforest. Contrary to first instinct, both places are known to have rather thin and poor soil. The logic behind […]

Posted On

05/31/16

Author

Yunzi Shi

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    [post_content] => 

We participated in a poetry workshop with Kane. We wrote down significant moments of our time here in Brazil and took some steps to end up with a nice lil’ poem at the end. This is what I ended up with.

Vergonha? Não. “Volte com mais confiança.”

---Translation---

 

Shame? Embarrassment? No. “Come back with more confidence.”

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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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Transference Reflection

Sera Gorucu,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

We participated in a poetry workshop with Kane. We wrote down significant moments of our time here in Brazil and took some steps to end up with a nice lil’ poem at the end. This is what I ended up with. Vergonha? Não. “Volte com mais confiança.” —Translation—   Shame? Embarrassment? No. “Come back with […]

Posted On

05/31/16

Author

Sera Gorucu

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    [post_date] => 2016-05-03 12:27:55
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    [post_content] => It's hard to believe that it is May, and that we are entering into the final phase, and month of our year together here in Bahia. We take off for Santa Cruz da Cabralia, in the south of the state, tomorrow early, and this begins our month designed by the student group. We will engage in service work with an indigenous tribe in Cabralia and then spend a week trekking through the Vale do Pati in the Chapada Diamantina before heading into transference (our internet will be limited in both places, since we are getting off the grid here)... there are lots of good things to come. Love to all from Brasil!
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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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E maio chegou…

Hanna Jacobsen,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

It’s hard to believe that it is May, and that we are entering into the final phase, and month of our year together here in Bahia. We take off for Santa Cruz da Cabralia, in the south of the state, tomorrow early, and this begins our month designed by the student group. We will engage […]

Posted On

05/3/16

Author

Hanna Jacobsen

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    [post_date] => 2016-04-14 18:43:26
    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-04-15 00:43:26
    [post_content] => 

Olá viajeros!

My name is Kane Smego and I am so excited to be joining you all for the last month of the program in Brazil. I currently live in Los Angeles, CA but I am originally from Durham, North Carolina. I first fell in love with the incredible collage of language, culture and politics that is South America at age 19, when I first spent a summer in Bolivia and was romanced by the mountains and the people. I had gone there with a high school friend of mine whose mother was Bolivian, and spent the month living with his grandmother, Doña Leonor. He began his second year of college a couple days after we arrived, so I spent the month with grandma Leonor stumbling through my broken Spanish to communicate as we explored the city and surrounding areas of Cochabamba. I still remember that first morning, peaking around the corner to find her sitting at the table before deciphering her invitation to join her. It was that first trip abroad that taught me the possibilities that manifest when we enter a new place humbly and eagerly, and with a mind open to learn, listen, and love. With Hanna’s guidance, you all have had the last 9 months to build relationships and new understandings, and to challenge yourselves in ways that you may have never imagined. I’m looking forward to hearing about all that you have experienced, and to sharing in that reflection process!

I continued feed my passion for language and culture when I returned to the states from Bolivia, attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I received my degree in Spanish language, and also studied four semesters of Arabic. But I will be diving headfirst into the world of Portuguese, and I’m so excited to practice with you all as I’m sure yours is pretty sharp by now! 

But here’s the twist in the story, ready for it?! I’m also a performance poet and Hip Hop artist, and since I graduated in 2010 I’ve been working as a full-time artist and educator, traveling across the country and internationally using art as a tool for self-transformation, community engagement, and cultural exchange. Last summer, I worked as an instructor on the Dragons program in Peru, but this will actually be my first time in Brazil, which makes me so excited for all of the revelations and challenges that a new place can bring. I’m stoked to learn along side you, and I’ll be looking to you for guidance and insight based on the time you’ve spent soaking up all of the wisdom and beauty Bahía has to offer. And I’m sure we will write some poetry!

Com muito amor,

Kane

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Hello from Kane

Kane Smego,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

Olá viajeros! My name is Kane Smego and I am so excited to be joining you all for the last month of the program in Brazil. I currently live in Los Angeles, CA but I am originally from Durham, North Carolina. I first fell in love with the incredible collage of language, culture and politics […]

Posted On

04/14/16

Author

Kane Smego

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-14 14:53:08
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    [post_content] => What an honor it was to participate in one of the world's well-known and highly praised celebrations! We were lucky enough to experience different sides of it (with the help of our program and the beneficial exchange rate). We were able to hang out on the sidelines in camarotes, where they have their own private entertainment while still being able to enjoy the blocos that drive by. We got to follow a bloco - hours of dancing and walking, following a band as it inches down Avenida Sete. And we got to see a calmer, more family-oriented side of Carnaval in Pelourinho, where bands march on foot through the streets (and we got to play with one of those bands, led by Bira Reis). There are definitely countless more ways to partake in the events, and I am grateful to have been part of any of it. It's an atmosphere filled with excitement, positivity, and even love. It became clear why some people speak so passionately and even poetically about the experience. I am so thankful for it, and for having the bridge year squad with me during it.
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Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

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Carnaval, on a lighter note…

Sera Gorucu,Princeton Bridge Year Brazil 2015-16

Description

What an honor it was to participate in one of the world’s well-known and highly praised celebrations! We were lucky enough to experience different sides of it (with the help of our program and the beneficial exchange rate). We were able to hang out on the sidelines in camarotes, where they have their own private […]

Posted On

03/14/16

Author

Sera Gorucu

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