My name is Ainara, and if you know anything about me, you should know that I love meeting new people. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently studying abroad in Brazil, a place I had never been to before. Traveling to Brazil has always been on my bucket list because I have always heard of the genuine, outgoing and kind nature of Brazilians. Only a week has passed and I have already been proven right in a way I never expected.
While touring Rio de Janeiro, we met with Luis Otavio, a professor from the local university. In order to make us feel more welcome, Otavio invited some of his undergraduate students along to connect with us. After spending one day with our group, Professor Otavio invited us to his home to share a well needed home cooked meal with him and his students.
As soon as we arrived at his beautiful home, he welcomed us with open arms and a big smile on his face. He knew that we had been on the go for the past couple of days, so he had set out snacks, beverages, and ice-cold water for us in the kitchen. Being at his house with his students created an unintimidating atmosphere for everyone to have a chance to bond. In addition, his house is located on the beach, so we were able to to sunbathe and enjoy the weather together. Taileine and Julia, two of the Brazilian undergraduate students told me that Professor Otavio had invited his class to come spend the day with us, but only five would be able to attend. They later mentioned that both of them were missing class that day because they chose to spend their day with us… wow! The fact that busy undergraduate students volunteered their time to spend it with American students who they had never met before or spoke their own language was inspiring and heartwarming.
After this experience, I began to realize that Brazilian culture is all about welcoming and including all. The Brazilians were happy to share their culture with us and teach us about their country. Otavio and the undergraduate students’ openness and hospitality brought up an important question in my mind- would I do the same? I began to think about a scenario in which I was in their position- in the middle of a school week, drowning in homework and projects, and busy with personal life- and I am not sure if I would have done the same, but spending time with them and being welcomed made me eager to do the same for someone else.
What I took from this lesson of kindness and hospitality is that even though we are all busy with our lives and with schoolwork, human connection is one of the most important things that create our culture. Sharing a moment with other people can be largely impactful on the lives of others and one should not pass up the opportunity to share that connection with someone else. Learning to coexist and value differences is what creates diversity and tolerance within cultures. We are human because we formulate and share ideas capable of transforming the reality in which we live in. We are human because we are cultural.
Until next time, friends!
This post was contributed by Ainara Almeida, a 2019 Global Ambassador. Ainara is majoring in architectural engineering and is studying abroad on the Project Management and Economics Maymester program in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Ainara’s experience abroad>>