Brazil

Megan Davis

Organization: SIT Study Abroad - Brazil - Social Justice and Sustainable Development
Dates: 15-Feb-16 - 29-May-16

In Megan's own words

How I contributed: I contributed mainly through my own field research, completed during the last 5 weeks of the program. I was able to design my own research question, and through the help of my adviser, I spent 5 weeks with the women of an Economic Solidarity group. These women produce handmade cloth dolls and clothing in a small shop on the outskirts of Fortaleza. I was able to contribute by helping in the production process, while conducting participant observations and interviews for my research. Ultimately, my contribution to the overall program was to offer the perspective of economic development, and its influence on the topics we studied amongst developmental intersectionality in Brazil.

What I felt most challenged by: I felt most challenged by the language and cultural barriers. Having no formal Portuguese training made the adjustment period in country difficult, however, these challenges were motivation for me to quickly learn the language and rely heavily on the relationships I was able to form with my host family.

What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed the complete cultural exchange. It was a truly rewarding and impactful thing to be able to understand another culture so thoroughly. Having the opportunity to live with a Brazilian family, and become a part of their everyday life allowed me a personal invitation into a Brazil that most travelers will never get to experience. Moreover, being presented the opportunity to travel to many communities throughout the rural Northeast, particularly spending time on an MST settlement, allowed for a comparative experience; that left me with a deeper acknowledgment of the problems that face Brazil as it continues to grow, and the souls that are being dedicated to the work required by such growth.

Would I recommend this experience: This experience was vital in shaping my viewpoint on international development, and furthermore influencing my perspective on the topic of development as a whole. I would most certainly recommend this experience to students who are looking for a challenging yet uniquely rewarding experience that will undoubtedly shake their understanding of the world, and reconstruct a new foundation for growth.

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Rebecca Deveau

Organization: Embrapa Rice and Beans
Dates: 25-May-12 - 25-Jul-12

In Rebecca's own words

How I contributed: I helped with research operations. One notable addition was I was familiar with a program they were trying to use. Having run into similar problems with the program with my own research at home, I was able to trouble shoot it for them. As well as explain to them the all English manual so they could use the program after I left

What I felt most challenged by: Not having control of my schedule, I had a lot of people that worked on my daily schedule. Every morning I would be met by one of these people and be whisked away, being someone that is a control freak and a serious planner this was really hard. Brazil is very much spur of the moment. Though I do not think I every really handled it, I noticed that I am a little more relaxed now, when it comes to schedules and planning

What I enjoyed most: The people, truly some of the most amazing people I have ever met

Would I recommend this experience: I recommend my experience to those who are able to adapt and truly to be on their own. When planning your own experience you need to truly pay attention to detail.

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Lukasz Stala

Organization: Carroll Farms, LLC
Dates: 31-May-12 - 30-Jul-12

In Lukasz's own words

How I contributed: I worked directly with the CEO and CFO of the company. They both taught me many things about the industry, about Brazil, and the local culture. In doing so, they often asked for my input and my thoughts on their operations. They wanted to break American stigmas of Brazilian agriculture and find the root of an "outsiders" thought-process and stereotypes towards their agricultural practices. I explained to them the types of things I have learned about Brazil and South American agriculture at Cornell and the IARD program. This helped them target specific aspects of their methods and practices, and how they were portrayed to the public. / / I also worked many long hour 5-6 days a week performing various tasks including: analyzing financials, creating excel spreadsheets outlining cotton gin inefficiencies, researching legal matters, and physical labor on the farm and at the gin. / / As I have mentioned previously, I started up a wrestling class, in which I instructed wrestling practices 3-4 times per week to the local community. I also created a training regimen at the farm headquarters, allowing laborers and myself to workout in our leisure time.

What I felt most challenged by: In essence, I was on my own in Brazil and sometimes I would feel lonely when thinking of my family and loved ones back home. To deal with this I tried to occupy my mind on some random mini-adventure everyday. Fortunately, there was never a dull day in Brazil. Everyday was a new thrilling experience. On weekends I tagged along with new friends to festivals and rodeos. During the week I spent many nights playing cards, enjoying a beer with my coworkers, or enjoying fresh cuts of beef at a local churrasco. The wrestling workouts and farm training helped maintain my sanity as well. Thank goodness for internet and wonderful applications such as Skype, email, and Facebook. I was able to stay in contact with family 3-4 times a week.

What I enjoyed most: The one thing I enjoyed most, was learning how to survive completely on my own. Proving to myself that I am capable of thriving and being completely independent. Having no friends, family, or acquaintances around to support me, I found that I can do what I need to do to succeed and help those around me.

Would I recommend this experience: This was the most enlightening trip I have ever been on in my entire life. My experience was unique to me and I feel that it is one that can not be replicated. However, I do recommend that anyone with the opportunity to travel abroad, whether it be to Brazil or somewhere else, take it with reverence and excitement.

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