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Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17


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Three nights ago we returned to Palmeiras, sweaty and exhausted, after a four-day trek through the rolling hills of Vale do Pati. Three days later, I lie in bed with a slightly sore foot and the bittersweet feeling of the present gradually becoming the past. Before the echoes of our trek completely leave my body, I thought it'd be worthwhile to capture, in words and photos, some of our finest moments deep in the wonder of the Chapada.

***

The trek began and ended with sleep. On the early morning van ride to Guiné, our starting destination, I remember the van falling quiet as members of our troupe compensated for the 5AM wake-up call. On the ride back to Palmeiras, I fell asleep watching the headlights illuminate the indents on the dirt road, a bottle of green juice nestled in my lap. When I woke up, I saw my homestay mom in the near distance, walking home.

***

We walked — a lot. The first day we walked twelve kilometers from Guiné to Seu Miguel's house, which is nestled deep in the verdant hush of the valley. At our first viewpoint, I remember stumbling into the view and simply feeling stunned. I wondered how the trees in the distance were so violet. In the background, Joás, our eccentric guide, sang a song about feeling saudades for Pati, and each time he sang it it seemed to have a different tune.

***

There was a lot of singing involved: wildlife imitative singing, Disney song singing, renditions of Hallelujah, attempts at a two-part, earth-loving hymn. The lattermost we sang at the dinner table each night. Dinner was always a fun process; on the final night, after scrapping our idea of paying for a pre-made meal, the whole group spent three hours in the kitchen whipping up (re-)baked pasta, farofa, and a godó de banana made from some green bananas Joás found, and cut, on the hike that day. Joás' godó was certainly deserving of his exuberant 'bom demais!' (too good!). The repertoire of his culinary improvisation — which included oatmeal made with tea — was certainly something to learn from. Jordan's improvised oat cake, however, probably (pun certainly intended) took the cake with its ingenuity of utilizing all the extra food we brought.

***

Sitting on the top of Morro de Castelo, Jordan, Asia and I got a kick out of playing my favourite simile game, an I Spy... variation which involves the statement life is like... followed by one thing in the near distance which had to be justified in the context. For example: life is like an eavesdropping lizard on Morro de Castelo — it creeps up on you.

***

The next day, we went to Cachoeira dos Funis, where I promptly soothed the physical consequences of an all-black outfit with a dip in the ice-cold water. Trying to catch my balance under the roaring waterfall was terrifying; the water was so loud. Later on I climbed up the first waterfall to find a second, next to which I lay on a bed of flat rock thinking of calm things and feeling the taste of a wild berry on my tongue. I only left because a bee sat on my right leg and refused to move, which made me nervous.

***

Seu Miguel has a cat called Mingau that is all too eager to share his love. One morning I woke up at 6.30AM to feel something move against my left leg. It took me two minutes to muster the courage to look down and see what it was... and I was pleasantly surprised to see a little, curled-up body pressed against my own. He later came up and nestled in the crook of my arm for a while, but migrated to the next bed when its inhabitant began to stir. It didn't help with my cat-related trust issues.

***

The final day was a twenty-three kilometer long struggle, but we got there in the end. We overlooked incredible, sprawling vistas with honey-soaked oat cakes and cold sandwiches in our hands. We talked about things from sibling dynamics to funny love stories to childhood quirks. At one point we shouted as loud as we could, only to hear our voices echo back so clearly from a distance.

Ten hours after our early morning start, we finally entered the van, our legs exhausted and our spirits drained, but high. We hardly felt the saudades creeping in.

***

But now, on the first day of our last month, boy do we feel it.

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Vale do Pati: Moments

Jimin Kang,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

Three nights ago we returned to Palmeiras, sweaty and exhausted, after a four-day trek through the rolling hills of Vale do Pati. Three days later, I lie in bed with a slightly sore foot and the bittersweet feeling of the present gradually becoming the past. Before the echoes of our trek completely leave my body, I […]

Posted On

05/2/17

Author

Jimin Kang

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    [post_content] => Dear Friends and Families,

Today, April 25th, the BYBrazil group will depart for their 4-day trek through the Vale do Pati. Leaving early in the morning, the group will set out from their home base town of Palmeiras and head to the town of Guine, situated in the Chapada Diamantina National Park. Once in Guine, they will begin their trek to the guest house of Sr. Miguel. They will base out of Sr. Miguel's home for the nights of 4/25 to 4/27 (3 nights total), with the option of passing their last night in the Vale at Igrejinha.

On 4/28 the group will trek back to the city of Capão and be in Palmeiras by the evening. The group will have daily access to radios for basic communication, but internet and cell access will be limited during this travel window. You can expect to hear from the group on 4/29 forward!

Thanks for your support!

 

 
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Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

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Vale do Pati Trek-4/25 to 4/28

Elizabeth Johnson,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

Dear Friends and Families, Today, April 25th, the BYBrazil group will depart for their 4-day trek through the Vale do Pati. Leaving early in the morning, the group will set out from their home base town of Palmeiras and head to the town of Guine, situated in the Chapada Diamantina National Park. Once in Guine, […]

Posted On

04/25/17

Author

Elizabeth Johnson

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    [post_content] => "Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world." — Indian sage Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950)

Excuse the Goodreads quote, but I feel it perfectly captures what the service element of the program is all about. Before coming to Brazil, I saw ‘service’ as something done with the obvious and superficial intention of ‘doing good’; it was a conscious addition to day-to-day life rather than a part of it.

Another conception I had of service was that it wasn’t entirely selfless. In an educational environment where service was a quantifiable tool that was correlated with the metric for ‘success’, I grew skeptical about the meaning of service and why people chose to do it.

Doing service work in Brazil has taught me that I was both right and wrong in my conceptions. I was wrong to think service was something distinguishable from the quotidian; even day-to-day activities can offer the kind of moral benefits (like solace and inspiration) and the practical improvements we attribute to effective service.

Yet I was right in that service isn’t entirely selfless. Sure, it requires acting for others, but service is also very much about acting for yourself. Service, as Ramana Maharshi purportedly claimed, is really all about self-realization. Of building yourself into a stronger person so that you may leave the world a stronger place.

***

In Salvador, I spent six months working with a movement called Canteiros Coletivos. Put street art, recycled products, urban planting and social activism together and you’d more or less get an idea of what Canteiros is all about.

Yup, this environmental-cum-social-cum-political movement was as badass as it sounds. Every morning I’d head over to Débora’s house, where I was greeted with an explosion of colour and life. As I watered the myriad plants growing out of tires, milk cartons, and old paint cans, I’d often be stained yellow by the stem of the tomato plant, or have my fingers turn fragrant from the hortelã, the basil or the rosemary. No two waterings would look the same: sometimes I’d spend more time watering the plants that looked a little exhausted, and when it rained I’d only do a quick check-up of the jasmine and the pineapple plants that sit beneath an overhead covering.

Sometimes I spent the day painting recycled detergent bottles to use as vases on the streets. A few times, Débora, Thiago and I, along with whichever volunteers were around for the day, spray painted lampposts and decorated them with plants and reminders to love the spaces in which we live. Walking to work and watching the plants grow — a sign that they were being cared for by the surrounding community — was always a treat.

Oh, how I could go on about the other stuff we did, like planting fruit trees by a busy roundabout in Gantois, holding gardening workshops with little kids at alternative fairs, and planting beans and pumpkin and sunflower saplings on the roadside in Vale do Canela.

A part of the reason why I wanted to work with Canteiros was because my real mom has a mini-garden jutting out from our living room window at home. I was entirely indifferent to it, thinking that gardening was beyond me. Yet Canteiros has taught me that planting isn’t so hard, and in fact rewarding in ways other than harvesting the end product (like delicious cherry tomatoes): it teaches lessons in patience, selflessness and the beauty of watching great spaces — when treated right — create important interactions between people. Upon returning home, I’ll undoubtedly help my mom with her mini-garden, and I’m also thinking of doing a few street installations myself. There isn’t a sight more heartwarming than seeing a busy passerby stop to admire a lamppost decorated with painted vases and a whole load of flowers. Besides, public streets are called public for a reason: they’re ours to care for, and ours to respect.

It’s important for me to mention that the other volunteers made my experience doubly rewarding. Every day I’d have at least one other volunteer with me at Débora’s house, and we’d tend the plants together as music echoed through the space. I always enjoyed talking with Lucas, whose famous homemade cakes made several appearances throughout the year, and whose compassion and warmth I’ll never forget; Victor, whose love for insects, although beyond me, always impressed me; Lhaís, with her fun Couchsurfing stories and enviably chic wardrobe; Mariana, with her conversations on all topics from Carnaval to bottled milk. It’s incredible to realize that there are so many like-minded people to meet in the world, and that Canteiros is just the tip of the iceberg.

***

Here in Palmeiras, my days doing service take on a slower pace. Three mornings a week I visit Dona Toinha, who is incidentally my and Jordan’s homestay grandmother. At eighty-eight years of age, Dona Toinha is an incredibly dignified woman who has lived a long life of dancing, singing samba de roda songs, selling spices, and generally being active and present for everyone she knows. Her Alzheimer’s makes it hard for her to converse with me — sometimes she says she wants to say something but the words don’t come out right, and other times she forgets who I am — but she always smiles whenever she hears a joke, or quietly sings a traditional samba song every once in a while.

When I sit with Dona Toinha, showing her my paintings, my crochet or asking about her life, I feel focused and present in a way I rarely do. Three hours fly by, and the hospitality of her family (i.e. Jordan’s homestay family) makes me feel like a part of the family itself.

Recently, Dona Toinha became especially weak and spent several days lying in bed. I wasn’t sure what to do during that time, not only as a foreigner but also as someone with little practical knowledge of how to work with the elderly. When I raised this concern with Hanna, our director, she talked to Dona Toinha’s daughter and main caregiver, Maria, to ask what I could do. Maria said that having me sit beside her mother was enough, regardless or not we conversed. Ever since I’ve thought a lot about the meaning of service, and it strikes me to think that even bringing a different energy into a space can be considered meaningful ‘work’ — although I hesitate to call what I do with Dona Toinha ‘work’, as it feels like a regular part of my day to visit and be with the family.

Two other days a week, I work with my homestay mom, Neide, at the environmental organization GAP. On Wednesday mornings I go around Palmeiras pushing a rubbish cart, picking up recyclable trash that residents leave outside their homes. Tiring it may be, the work is relatively relaxing when done beside Neide and her friends, Terezinha and Yvonette, whose laughter is always contagious. In the afternoons I sort through the trash and sometimes get to work the Wall-E machine (i.e. the garbage press machine) to create very visually satisfying blocks of material. Although the work is exhausting, it does feel pretty cool to be able to sort things really quickly and through them into buckets basketball-style — especially when my homestay dad is involved.

Perhaps my job at GAP isn’t as glamorous as my work at Canteiros, and perhaps I have nothing more to offer than an extra pair of hands. Yet the lessons I learn about recycling and consumerism are, though intangible, things I can carry back home and apply to my life there. I’ve never really thought about how recycling works in Hong Kong, or at Princeton, but I’m willing to find out — and I’m more than willing to be conscious of how much waste I produce, and whether or not the consumption of their constituent materials is entirely necessary.

***

So, perhaps the work I’m doing won’t solve Brazil’s corrupt political system or end poverty. But service doesn’t always have to be done with the intention of a lofty goal bigger than oneself. In fact, service may start with enriching oneself, which may incidentally happen through the process of enriching the life of another. And if we all engage in this thing called service by making it a part of our day-to-day, we may even start a chain reaction that ultimately makes humanity happier to be where we are, when we are, and with the people we are with.

And I guess that’s the biggest gift you can give.

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A Tale of Two Cities: Service in Brazil

Jimin Kang,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

“Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” — Indian sage Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) Excuse the Goodreads quote, but I feel it perfectly captures what the service element of the program is all about. Before coming to Brazil, I saw ‘service’ as something done with the obvious and superficial intention of ‘doing good’; […]

Posted On

04/10/17

Author

Jimin Kang

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Desce a escada de degrau a degrau, até chegar a areia que corre pelos dedos do pé. Ali, você olha ao seu redor. Contra essa parede que quebra as ondas, ficam deitados barcos e barcos e barcos. Alguns são pequenos e compactos; outros grandes e ostentosos; alguns pretos, de madeira velha; outros, novos de letras decoradas e cores especiais.

Olha.

O resto da praia fica vaga. As únicas figuras que se destacam são de um pescador, pés firmes na terra, e dos dois garotos sentados na areia, inspecionando os corpos sem-vida dos peixes com as suas facas. Eles parecem estar conversando. Sobre o que, não se pode saber. Não se sabe se são colegas de trabalho ou amigos. Um deles fica sentado enquanto o outro sai para o mar e lava as suas mãos. Olho para o pescador. Ele já foi embora, para as pedras escuras e distantes. Ele olha para o horizonte. Eu olho para o mar que sobe e desce, uma rotina banal. O sol e o céu ficam quietos. As nuvens se estendem no céu sem-fim, pintado com cores distintos que lembram do passado.

Olho para o fim da praia, lá onde as pedras consomem a terra. Se você seguir as pedras com os olhos, vai ver a ladeira sutil que sobe até as discretas casas dos pobres. Descendo uma escada próxima, vem alguns fotógrafos e três modelos jovens. Chegam até a areia, e olham ao seu redor, procurando algo. Eles passam pelos homens eviscerando peixes, pelos árvores tropicais enraizados pela parede, até chegar aos barcos.

Ficam ali. Os fotógrafos tiram fotos.

Pronto.

Embora para outro lugar. Andando, procurando. O homem do peixe para, recolhe uma cesta de palha, cheia de peixe cru, e o deixa cair nas ondas que se aproximam. As nuvens no horizonte começam a sumir; mas na parte mais distante do horizonte, pode-se ver uma tinta rosa decorando a tarde. E brilha forte, brilha forte. E, com o tempo, vai diminuindo o brilho. Agora, bate. E, agora, perdi o oxigênio.

 

Agora some.

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Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

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Observações

Leopoldo Solis,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

Desce a escada de degrau a degrau, até chegar a areia que corre pelos dedos do pé. Ali, você olha ao seu redor. Contra essa parede que quebra as ondas, ficam deitados barcos e barcos e barcos. Alguns são pequenos e compactos; outros grandes e ostentosos; alguns pretos, de madeira velha; outros, novos de letras […]

Posted On

03/27/17

Author

Leopoldo Solis

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    [post_content] => As instruções pareciam tão simples - vá lá, e escreva o que observar. Então, eu fui para o meu quarto para pegar meu caderno e uma caneta. Consegui encontrar o meu caderno, mas faltava a caneta. Porém, ainda restaram noventa minutos, e aí sem pensar eu fui à farmácia em busca de uma caneta.

"A senhora vende canetas?" em perguntei ao chegar, da forma mais educada.

"Não," ela respondeu, desinteressada.

Voltei para a praça, sem caneta e sem ideia de que eu ia fazer. Tinha alguns colombianos brincando ao redor, mas eu tinha esquecido a palavra para "caneta" en espanhol. Pensei em pedir uma caneta na recepção da pousada, mas fiquei com vergonha e saí sem nada. Desesperado, decidi desistir de tentar, e pensar por um minutinho.

Olhei para Oceano Atlântico, e como me viciei na história do Brasil, pensei nos portugueses. Há quase quinhentos anos, vieram para aqui - a Bahia - procurando terra nova, e recursos, para o império deles. Trouxeram a civilização ocidental, governadores, funcionários, tecnologia então moderna, a religião católica e a língua portuguesa. Trouxeram canetas. Também trouxeram escravos, cujos sofrimento e pena não pode ser explicados na palavra escrita.

Andei um pouquinho mais pela orla, e encontrei as duas instituições religiosas do Rio Vermelho: a Igreja de Santana, e ao seu lado a Casa de Iemanjá. Quem tem fé vai orar e rezar, mas sua fé não vem das palavras escritas na Bíblia ou outros textos sagrados - se fosse assim, não faria sentido. Eles acreditam porque sentem; porque eles pensam.

Afastando-me agora das praças, cheias de gente, cheguei à Praia de Paciência. Desço e sento, ainda sem nada para escrever. Escuto. Como se soletra o som das ondas batendo suavemente na areia? Não existe palavra em inglês, nem em português, tcheco ou chinês. Então escuto.

Penso nos dez mil pensamentos não escritos, pensados por dez mil pessoas padrões dando seus passeios pela Orla do Rio Vermelho, nenhum deles com caneta. Dizem que a caneta é mais poderosa que o facão, mas permanecerá deitada na mesa sem ser pega por um pensador, que tem a facilidade de expressar suas ideias e a coragem de escrevê-las.

Talvez eu simplesmente não queira escrever, mas enfim - essa é a minha tarefa. Então, me irmão... será que você pode me emprestar uma caneta?
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Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

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A Caneta: Pensamentos sobre a besteira que a gente escreve, e a verdade que não escreve

Conor Wilson,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

As instruções pareciam tão simples – vá lá, e escreva o que observar. Então, eu fui para o meu quarto para pegar meu caderno e uma caneta. Consegui encontrar o meu caderno, mas faltava a caneta. Porém, ainda restaram noventa minutos, e aí sem pensar eu fui à farmácia em busca de uma caneta. “A […]

Posted On

03/27/17

Author

Conor Wilson

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    [post_content] => Olha vocês, parados

na frente do incrível curvo

do mundo. Estão esperando?

Por que ficam assim, tão quietos?

 

Me diga: como é

o mundo do mar?

 

Tá cheio assim? Com barulho

do trânsito puntuando as voltas

a casa? Com esse som do gelo

encontrando com a ponta da faca,

das escamas caindo dos peixes,

do rapaz com a caixa cheia

de vida gelada e sorrindo, perguntando:

quer trocar? Como são, os espectadores

do pôr do sol, desse sofrimento diário

do céu? O céu chora assim?

Com boca vermelha? E me diga: têm

paredes pintadas lá? Tem cor?

 

Os mundos que não conhecemos sempre são

os mais lindos. Talvez o mar seja assim.

Por isso vocês jogam suas linhas

ao mar, e esperam por algo que lhes chame.

Para ter algo de outro lado

com vocês. Algo novo.

Algo melhor.
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Aos Pescadores (To the Fishermen)

Jimin Kang,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

Olha vocês, parados na frente do incrível curvo do mundo. Estão esperando? Por que ficam assim, tão quietos?   Me diga: como é o mundo do mar?   Tá cheio assim? Com barulho do trânsito puntuando as voltas a casa? Com esse som do gelo encontrando com a ponta da faca, das escamas caindo dos […]

Posted On

03/14/17

Author

Jimin Kang

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Eu estou olhando as pessoas passarem. Muitos turistas andam rápido. Eles estão animados - talvez eles vão comer acarajé pela primeira vez ou tomar banho na praia da paciência. Talvez eles vão para um restaurante beber caipirinhas a noite toda. Eles estão animados para conhecer essa cidade.

Mas eles esquecem algumas coisas importantes. Eles esquecem de parar e escutar a voz de Salvador. Eles esquecem de só sentir e olhar as vidas das outras pessoas.

Os moradores não esquecem estas coisas.

Na parede perto do mar, eles se sentam em grupos. As mulheres cuidam das crianças. Os homens falam sobre política, dinheiro, futebol e mulheres. As vozes estão baixas e, às vezes, as vozes pararam. Eles estão confortáveis em silêncio. Três meninas estudam juntas, mas depois de 5 minutos, elas começam a brincar e os livros são inúteis. Um menino, um pescador, está numa pedra no meia do mar. O trabalho dele é perigoso, mas ele é elegante e forte e não têm medo do mar.

Salvador não é a alegria simples como os turistas pensam.  Essas pessoas sao Salvador.

Salvador é mais parecido com o mar. Salvador é complexa. Ao mesmo tempo maravilhosa e perigosa, forte e tranquila. As vezes Salvador sao das cores mais claras do mundo. As vezes salvador sao das cores mais escuras do mundo. Mas sempre dá energia para minha alma e meu coração.

Eu sinto pelos turistas que só passam uma semana aqui. Salvador têm um grande poder e uma beleza profunda de que eles nunca vão desconfiar.

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Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

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Como Conhecer Salvador

Jordan Heinzel-Nelson,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

Eu estou olhando as pessoas passarem. Muitos turistas andam rápido. Eles estão animados – talvez eles vão comer acarajé pela primeira vez ou tomar banho na praia da paciência. Talvez eles vão para um restaurante beber caipirinhas a noite toda. Eles estão animados para conhecer essa cidade. Mas eles esquecem algumas coisas importantes. Eles esquecem […]

Posted On

03/14/17

Author

Jordan Heinzel-Nelson

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    [post_content] => 2016 has been a crazy year of changes, both welcome and unwelcome, and one of the things I have been grateful for is the amazing group of young people with whom I am living and learning and adventuring here in Bahia.

On Christmas Eve morning, we made the rounds in Candeal, singing Christmas songs with all kinds of improvised instrumentation - it was a blast! Our neighbors got yet another taste of our craziness, and we got to spend the holiday together laughing and enjoying each other's company in one of our homes away from home.

Happy holidays e TUDO DEM BOM, DE PAZ, E DE ALEGRIA PURA NESSE ANO NOVO!
    [post_title] => Christmas cheer in Candeal!
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Christmas cheer in Candeal!

Hanna Jacobsen,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

2016 has been a crazy year of changes, both welcome and unwelcome, and one of the things I have been grateful for is the amazing group of young people with whom I am living and learning and adventuring here in Bahia. On Christmas Eve morning, we made the rounds in Candeal, singing Christmas songs with […]

Posted On

01/5/17

Author

Hanna Jacobsen

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    [post_date] => 2016-12-12 10:15:13
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    [post_content] => 

A week ago, eight of us sat down on beanbags in a warmly lit house and began a ‘roda de conversa’ (‘conversation circle’). The directions were simple: someone would ask a question, and everyone in the circle would take turns answering it. The only ‘rule’ was that one could not interrupt the current speaker, who would command all attention and respect during their minute or so of speech.

Normally, the questions we tend to ask others are the ones we want to answer for ourselves. This instance was no exception. When it was time to offer a second question (after the philosophical first query ‘do you believe in souls?’) I couldn’t help but blurt out: ‘what is the one thing you want but you’ll never have?’

In a roomful of teenagers, I somewhat expected to hear (from myself included) a long, tragic tale of love lost, unrequited, undiscovered, etc. Yet before any of the above came to mind, the first thing I thought of was something I’d never really considered before.

The one thing I want — but I’ll never have — is this: a place to call home.

Three months into my time here in Brazil, I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t miss ‘home’. Not in the way that I thought I would. I’ve settled in surprisingly faster than I thought, which leads to the exhilarating thought that, as someone who can root herself in many different cultural contexts, maybe this means the whole world has the capacity to become my home.

But the realization comes with the knowledge that my ease of assimilation stems from my inherent rootlessness. Without any place to hinge my notion of ‘home’, a place to which we always see ourselves returning, there’s little I can actually miss.

(Maybe I’m being a bit unfair — of course I love my family, and vice versa. But in terms of locations, which are integral in forming an image of ‘home’: Hong Kong is but my adopted city, Korea my estranged country, and the rest of the world places I have yet to fully experience.)

Candeal, my Brazilian neighborhood, constantly reminds me — for better or for worse — of my rootlessness. The community of Candeal is incredibly intimate. Everyone seems to be related somehow: when I take a walk with my mom and the dog in the evenings, we always pass by a family member who I’ve never seen. Later this month, I’ll be attending a wedding at my mom’s church between her friend and the son of my Capoeira mestre. On my way home the other day I ran into a lady sitting in a lawn chair by my house, who said she saw me at the special youth mass at her church in Upper Candeal (which, incidentally, is run by Alejandro’s homestay family).

When the Chapecoense plane crash occurred on Monday morning, I returned from the gym at 7.30AM to find my sister unexpectedly up early, lying on the couch, staring at the TV. Aside from the facts that a) football is a very big deal in Brazil and b) the accident was incredibly tragic, I didn’t really know why she was so concerned. It was only later on that day that I found out that the woman who lives in the green-tiled house down the street has a son who plays for Chapecoense. (Thankfully he is safe — he didn’t go to Colombia due to a recent knee injury.)

Both my homestay siblings were born in Candeal, so they have known this neighborhood their entire lives. Almost their entire paternal extended family lives right around the corner. My brother works at a used furniture store right beside my mom’s cosmetic / clothing store, both of which are also located on the next street. Their entire lives can be found here in the neighborhood, which they have seen develop for the past twenty-odd years.

There is no place on earth I know half as well as my siblings know Candeal. No place on earth that is so obviously, clearly, viscerally ‘home’. Parts of me are scattered all across the globe, in places so culturally and geographically disparate that there is no way of pulling them all together. I don’t deeply and personally know most of my extended family, and I don’t know if I’ll ever return to a place in the future and think: ‘I’m here. I’m back. I’m home.’

And I guess this is something I’ll never know.

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The One Thing I Want (But I’ll Never Have)

Jimin Kang,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

A week ago, eight of us sat down on beanbags in a warmly lit house and began a ‘roda de conversa’ (‘conversation circle’). The directions were simple: someone would ask a question, and everyone in the circle would take turns answering it. The only ‘rule’ was that one could not interrupt the current speaker, who would command […]

Posted On

12/12/16

Author

Jimin Kang

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    [post_content] => I wait all week for Sunday - it's 7 days away. Everyday there are reminders of the big day. My homestay dad spends more and more time out of the house, only returning for a few hours at midnight. 5 days away.  Posters go up around the neighborhood. 3 days away. A large pot of half-prepared feijoada (a traditional bean dish) appears on our stove. 2 days away. The excitement in my house is contagious. 1 day away.

And then the day dawns - Sunday - the day of my dad's big concert! I spend the morning out with my sister and her friends. But all the while my mind is back in Candeal, thinking about the show and my dad and all the preparation that is going into it. 3 hours left. 2 hours left. 1 hour left. Finally, we return to Candeal but only stop by the show for a few minutes. Preparations are fully underway - almost finished in fact. Boghan breifly greets me with a kiss on each cheek but he is too busy getting ready to spare me much time.

Bia and I return home, shower, get into dresses and head back to the event. When we arrive a half hour after the show should have started the crowd has swelled and there is already beer cans littering the sides of the street. But the band is not yet on stage - just a few scattered musicians I recognize from around Candeal. I spot some of my Bridge year group in the crowd. Bia and I part ways and I head over to join them. "I'm so glad you guys came!" (It feels so good to speak English with them after a day of stumbling through Portuguese). The excitement is building but still the show hasn't started.

"Where is your dad?" I feel a pride swell up inside of my chest. I get to call Boghan my dad!

But looking around, I don't know where he is. Suddenly the musicians on stage begin to play and still my dad is nowhere to be seen. "Maybe this is an opener?" I yell over the music. But suddenly a voice rings out over the crowd and my eyes are yanked up front. From the far side of the stage 3 people are walking up onto the stage. My uncle with his dreadlocks pulled into a high ponytail and a slight resemblance to Carlinhos Brown, a beautiful blond woman I've never met, and Boghan - his dreads allowed to hang loose and a pair of highly colorful pants.

I am screaming with the crowd as the music starts. My dad spots me in the crowd - easily visible as a white dot in an almost all black crowd - and he waves at me. For a second, I feel on top of the world! I am at a concert where the lead singer waves at me! "Pai Boghan!" I scream. Literally translated this means "Dad Boghan" which is a little strange. But it's the way I address my homestay father and he seems to enjoy the nickname.

I spend the night dancing with my friends - both those from the Bridge Year group and the group of Brazilian friends I have made. My Brazilian friends, who have all inherited the Brazilian gift of dance, laugh at my lack of ability. Finally they agree to teach me. I dance with them and they teach me how to place my feet, how to follow, how to move my hips - basically how to dance at all. I am still dreadful, but listening to Patrick, Danilo, and Thiago shout dancing instructions to me in Portuguese, I cannot help but smile. We laugh together, sing together, dance together, and have a great night!

The next day the whole house is quiet. Everyone is sleeping, relaxing, recuperating. But in our few minutes together when Pai Boghan wakes up, he tells me that next Sunday he is going to have another show - and he wants me to play violin at the next one!

The countdown starts again!
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Countdown for Pai Boghan

Jordan Heinzel-Nelson,Princeton Bridge Year: Brazil 2016-17

Description

I wait all week for Sunday – it’s 7 days away. Everyday there are reminders of the big day. My homestay dad spends more and more time out of the house, only returning for a few hours at midnight. 5 days away.  Posters go up around the neighborhood. 3 days away. A large pot of half-prepared […]

Posted On

11/28/16

Author

Jordan Heinzel-Nelson

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