I wanted to do this year abroad because deep down I didn’t want to do it. Or, in simpler terms, because I thought it would be hard. I’ve developed a liking, maybe from 6 years of competitive rowing, to doing things that are hard because I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction after, which can be both a good and bad thing–it gives me more self-discipline, but it can also lead to me doing things that don’t really benefit me for the wrong reason. So, when I was given the opportunity to live and work in Brazil for eight months, my first thought was, like many kids, wow, that sounds scary but my second thought was, but think about how accomplished you’ll feel when you’re done! I literally went into this year thinking about how nice the feeling of coming home would be.
1+4 fellows in Brazil recently participated in Training Seminar I – a week of training and reflection as a group, away from their work placements and host families. Di shares her experiences and photos from the week in the following video!
One of the things that scared my family most in my coming to Brazil was the mosquitoes. I was told that they were an easily manageable problem, and not to worry about them. Those were lies.
Now, this is a bit of an exaggeration. The mosquitoes in Santa Catarina carry none of the terrifying diseases for which Brazil has recently become famous. This does not stop them from being the sneakiest mosquitoes ever to cross my path. They bite through my shirts, my jeans, and even as of late, my socks. They bite through my fluffy socks. My legs are covered in bites and the evidence of my totally failed attempts not to scratch them. I have had to wear sandals for the last three days because my Achilles heel cannot take any more abuse and yet I forget to wear mosquito spray nearly every day. I suppose it is an adequate punishment for my inability to get up for my volunteer apprenticeship at a more reasonable time (when I wouldn’t be rushing out the door to get there before my shift is supposed to start). To top it all off, according to my host mom I have a slight allergy to mosquitoes, making the bites itch just a little stronger and a little longer than they normally do. Fantastic.
On the Global Citizen Year packing list under “other recommended items” is “small musical instrument (if you play one, can carry it, and can tolerate possible damage — music is a great way to connect cross-culturally!)”. I realized that a grand piano was out of the question.
What about the Henninger-Voss family upright? 0/3 was not a passing grade, so that didn’t fly. The old keyboard that no one really touched since we got the upright 14 years ago? It passed all of Global Citizen Year’s requirements, but unfortunately it didn’t fit in a suitcase and I didn’t have room for such an enormous extra carry on. But man, I couldn’t bare the thought of not playing for a year.
After much deliberation, a few visits to local music stores, a little premature heartbreak, I remembered a midi-keyboard that hadn’t seen sunlight since we moved 7 years ago. Again, it seemed too big, but the genius I call my mother found that if you took our largest suitcase, stood the keyboard on its side, stretched the suitcase as far as it could go, pulled back the cloth a bit, then stretched it a bit more, you could wedge the keyboard in diagonally from corner to corner as securely as a brace. Bingo.
Now for those of you who are unsure of what a midi-keyboard is, it is a keyboard with no speakers that is incapable of producing sound, only a certain type of electronic signal that when interpreted through a software like “garage band” can be made into noise.
Maybe not an elegant solution, but I could play a piano wherever I went.
First of all, endings never actually happen. There is always something that comes after a supposed ending: credits, applause, maybe hesitation and questions. There too is that good old cliche, “When one door closes, another one opens.” This leads us to easily extrapolate that when one ending occurs a beginning does as well. An ending brings the close of something but the opening of something else. So, to that effect, an ending is a beginning? An ending isn’t really an ending? Endings don’t exist? I’m confused.