International Study Program: Location
This year our International Study Program (ISP) went to Brazil. Over the month of July 19 members and two staff visited major cities and small villages, including Rio De Janeiro, Miguel Perreira, Parati, Salvador do Bahia and Arembepe. Throughout this time they met with students, educators, professionals and politicians and gained broad perspective on the history, culture and politics of Brazil.
This summer’s journey to Brazil is our fourth in the last decade. Throughout this time we have developed strong partnerships with Brazilian community based organizations that we visit each trip. This year, for the first time, several youth from “Iramos Unidos” (The Brotherhood chapter in Arembepe established by Co-Founder Jason Warwin during his time living in Brazil) will travel with ISP to another region of Brazil. This is one small way we are able to support the organizations who have welcomed us with open arms throughout the years.
ISP is a life-changing experience. Check out the photos and review the members’ reflections. You will surely see why it is said that “travel is the best education”.
ISP 2015 has wrapped up our first week in Brasil and we had a great time, to say the least, in the city of Rio de Janerio… We stayed in Lapa and upon our arrival we toured Tijuca National Park and Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado; enjoying the beautiful view of the entire city as the sun set and the city lite up. On our second day we met with the members of US consulate and learned about the duties of the US diplomats who serve in Brasil.
In the afternoon members toured their 1st favela , Complexo de Alemao, and exchanged with the NGO Voz Da Communidade Third day members spent the day at AfroRegaee, a partner organization who has hosted us and welcomed us lovingly, everytime we have been to Brasil. Later that evening we were invited to dinner at the home of other US consulate diplomates who took the time to share about their experiences and learn from our members. Fourth day we visted with Centro Comunitario Lidia Dos Santos also located in a favela, where we had the oppotunity to tuor their space and exchanged with their youth. At night we walked through Lapa and had a taste of the busy Brasilian night life. Fifth day we visited the Museu dos Novos Pretos and participated in a dance class with the Grande Compania de Mysterios e Novidades.
In the evening members attended Baile Funk, a party/gathering at a favela. Our final day in Rio we spent the day bonding and relaxing at Copacabana Beach and members facilitated their 1st seminar… Today we made our way and are settled in the rural community of Miguel Perriera… Looking foward to the adventures that await….
Today was such a stressful day but also exiting. I had a safe flight to Brazil even though I got no sleep. Once we got off the plane we went straight to our hotel. We walked around Rio and it reminded me of 42nd street at nighttime. There are many busy things going on and people walking around. The most important part of my day was visiting the top of the mountain in Corcovado. It was such a different view and the pictures I took were so beautiful. I’m so excited to have this experience and have a chance to see what the other side of the world looks like. I am waiting for what comes next for the rest of my trip.
I enjoyed today. I’m sort of interested in working with the US consulate one day – it seems really interesting. Even though I was exhausted the meeting kept me engaged. In the favelas I was as little worried – because a friend of mine was killed in NYC before I left. I’m just really scared to be in them – especially because of all the violence. Today was a long day and I’m glad it’s over!
Today was interesting. I went to visit Afro Reggae in the favelas and the performances were amazing. The children were so young and I truly appreciated how welcoming they were. I was also surprised to see how advanced their technology was and how huge their space was. I felt privileged to be in a space with people who are so creative and have such a desire to learn.
Today was sooooooo much fun! We always have a good time when we visit other youth organizations. We had a very interesting discussion about life in Brazil and the USA. Although we live in different countries, we have a lot of similarities.
After that we got a real taste of the Brazilian nightlife. The restaurant where we ate dinner played live music, which was amazing. Next we went out to a hip-hop club. There was a drumming band that played music and then the DJ took over. Everybody danced the night away. This was my favorite day so far. I wish we had many more nights like this.
We drove to the San Juan River which is 15 meters deep. We learned that reforestation had started 48 years ago, and that that’s why the area looked so healthy and well kept. After leaving the welcome area, where we had a juice cocktail made from native plants, we had lunch, which might have been the best meal yet. This meal consisted of white rice, black beans, chicken and to top it off, well seasoned shredded beef (ropa vieja).
After lunch we went for a swim in the river. At that moment, I was convinced to open up to all the experiences on ISP, so instead of sitting on the side of the river and getting a little splash, I decided to jump all the way in and experience the moment with everyone else.
It started to occur to me, at that moment in the San Juan river, how much privilege I have and this opportunity to swim in a river with my peers may never come again in my lifetime. As I sit here and write in this journal, I’m thinking how will I allow this experience to change the person I am, because it should have a major affect on my thinking and who I truly am becoming.