There’s one thing about my life that I will never be able to hide: I was raised in the city. Before this Global Citizen Year experience I lacked the knowledge, openness, confidence, or experience to imagine myself in a place like Macacu, but this was my year to learn. In my time here I’ve fed cows, born witness to the artificial insemination of a cow (expect another blog about that later), swatted at bugs in fields of sugar cane, ridden on the back of a cattle driven cart, learned to dance, gotten EXTREMELY tan, and went 120 hours on 20 hours of sleep (WOOT CARNIVAL…. then work).

The first thing you will learn about Brazil is the ability to make connections. From the moment I was introduced to my community, people opened up to me. Constantly people I wasn’t familiar with came up and said “Oi.” It wasn’t the fact I was the new “famous american.” Brazilians destroy social barriers and social awkwardness making everyone an acquaintance and/or friend.

The first night I was invited to a birthday party of an 18 year old girl. She would later become one of my closer friends. I struggled through remembering the portuguese happy birthday song. Barely being able to keep up or even having the basic vocabulary to understand half the words these kids were saying to each other I relied on others to come to me and explain, talk, and socialize. There was no other culture more up to that task than Brazil. Their inclusiveness into the community and patience gave me a nickname, Tanguets, and dance lessons with the “birthday girl” within HOURS of my arrival in the community.

Even when I went to Big cities like Rio de Janeiro, Foz de Iguà¤u, Floripa, Curitiba and so many other places the openness and invitation from other Brazilians was always there. From the simple “oi tudo bom” between strangers, to wonderful conversations on buses, all the way to my host family inviting me in with more than open arms but also open hearts into their home, Brazil accepts and envelops with culture, friendship, and goodness.

Coming into this program I wanted to develop a few things about myself, one of my higher goals was my openness, communication, confidence, and attractiveness. Whether it be the rural-agricultural community, the fun parties, learning fluency in another language, or the overall acceptance of Brazilian nature: Brazil could not have been a better teaching ground.