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Posts tagged ‘community’

about current events…

To watch or not to watch that is the question I’ve been having the past few days. Do I want to see more shooting? More killing? More raping? More lies? More children suffering? I was semi-inspired to write this post because of another blog post I read this past week. The author spoke about a friend she knew who had told her that she had stopped watching the news some years ago and felt much better about life in general. The author then asked if not watching the news was the equivalent of saying you didn’t care about what was happening in the world? She battled with this question of being ignorant to the current events of the world or to stay informed. Then when she moved countries she started to read more news on the internet in which she called a “buffet style” news reading. She was able to pick and choose what she wanted to read.

She said she had inadvertently given herself the best gift of all and added that turning off the news was a major turning point to her path to a simpler lifestyle. She goes on about how the lack of news negativity was actually helping her change her most basic approaches to life. Genius! I thought as I read the post. It was something that I had been battling with recently and something that I really value about the “buffet style” news reading she mentioned.  Since I have lived out of the country for a few years now I have turned more to this style of news reading, but by no means do you have to live out of the country to do this.

So what exactly am I saying? Well, I’m not saying you should be ignorant to the world around you, I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about the crises that are happening, to the people who need your help, to the changes happening in countries. And I am definitely not saying that when you stop to watch the news all your negative thinking and skepticism will magically disappear. I’m saying that the current events news that we all watch at 6pm…10pm…12pm…9am… whatever hour you choose, could actually be impacting us more than we think.

The blogger wrote one particular phrase that I think sums up perfectly what I’m trying to say. She says, “Being selective about the news you absorb is a way of living deliberately and mindfully.” Deliberately and mindfully! What refreshing words I thought to myself. I think that in today’s world it is not so easy to live this way. We are constantly engulfed and surrounded by the things that society wants us to hear, to do, to NOT hear. How often do we get to choose what we deliberately do?

There are so many things we can read about, things that interest us, things that make us believe in things, travel, food, religion, whatever floats your boat, frosts your cupcake, soothes your soul… you get the picture.

So do you cut out all the gloomy, critical and tragic news? No…But watch in moderation. Please. I could sit on my computer for hours reading about the tragedy in Japan, the murders in Libya, the protests around the world, the starvation in Africa. What good will it do me though?

So. Read. Be informed. Help. Do good. But don’t become overwhelmed and depressed by the news. Seek balance and simplicity, read things that matter to you, read things you enjoy and don’t be engulfed by the sorrows. I know it’s easier said than done. But I promise when you start to read “buffet style” things will seem a little brighter. At least they do for me.

Trying to be balanced!

about some of the things that I missed…

So I got a lot of crap from my students when I got back to Brazil. They all said that I wrote a one way blog entry and that even though I missed things from home there has got to be things I missed about Brazil. Well… in the end… they were right. So here we go, without further ado… The top ten things I took/take for granted in Brazil:

1. Vegetables and Fruits tasting…well…like…vegetables and fruits.
*For some reason they just taste much better down here. Don’t ask me why guys… I just eat it.

2. Juices.
*No. It is not the same as #1 because juices in Brazil deserve their own category. Watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Caju, Grape… you name it, they’ve got it. The succulent, refreshing, all natural juices in this country have become my daily liquid intake. And I love every second of it.

3. Beaches
*If you don’t know that I like beaches, you don’t know me. And if you don’t know that Arizona doesn’t have beaches, well then you wouldn’t understand why I missed them so much.

4. Feiras
*God’s gift to Brazilians. A market full of everything you should eat in life. Every. Single. Day.

5. Not always doing things the right way.
*Ok, so its not like I’m a big fan of let’s disobey laws. But in Brazil its just so easy to just twist the law a little… don’t get me wrong guys, I’m a law-abiding citizen… well.. as much as any other Brazilian, right? It says don’t park… but… oh… maybe just for a little bit is ok… right?

6. Brazilian Food… Rodizios…Pastel…Sushi…Pão de Queijo…
*Its just so good. Period.

7. Football Fervor
*The excitement and passion that Brazilians have for their teams is a true devotion. Some times too much…but still.

8. Portuguese.
*I missed speaking Portuguese! Well… trying to speak Portuguese!

9. Challenges.
*Don’t get me wrong again… anywhere you go, you have challenges. But living in a country that is not your own is a completely different second-by-second challenge that teaches you all about yourself and makes you feel totally uncomfortable, but in a good way. It makes you do things you never thought you would do. It’s probably the best thing about living abroad.

10. G and P. And my Brazilian family.
*People always make a place what it is.

about the continuity Brazil asked for…

Hm. I won’t go all political on my blog, I merely want to state my opinion on the recent elections that brought Dilma Rousseff to power in this ever-changing and growing nation. I can’t vote here and it is frustrating, so in the end I only have the right to comment on facts and opinions I have heard and that I feel. So what I write here is simply this and not a complaint about this country.

Many say that Dilma Rousseff’s election to office was a sign of the democratic progress Brazil has made… really? I don’t know if I completely agree with this. I think that this election was highly influenced by Lula, not the fact that they wanted Lula (which may be true), but that the country was voting for continuity (of more than just a person, but of the policies and procedures). Over the past eight years that Lula has been in power Brazil has seen many changes for the better and this was enough to influence many people to vote for Lula’s party, which as a result put Dilma in power. My point is that it could have been anyone and with the approval and backing of Lula, this person would have won.

I always find this interesting…if you look at a map of Brazil and the past elections there are clear reflections between states and poverty levels (even look at the city of São Paulo, the exterior part of the city is plagued with hills of favelas). The higher the amount of poverty, the higher the chance of voting for the worker’s party (Dilma’s party). The lower the poverty, the lower the chance of voting for the worker’s party. For this reason, Brazil is stuck between class voting. Maybe this voting is present in many countries and I am just now becoming aware of its power over what happens in a country’s elections. The Economist stated this difference in class level voting and although I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing because in the end it represents the country and what and who the country is. However, I do think that it is something that separates a country rather than unifies it, and this task may be Dilma’s most difficult.

Another point I want to make was the convenient holiday that was declared over this voting weekend, which consequently accounted for a 21.5% abstention. This is an extremely high percentage, considering voting is compulsory in Brazil. Another thing to consider…

The last point I want to make is about Dilma’s identity, whether she will simply be Lula in a woman form or she will represent herself and choose her own path and identity. There are many things Brazil needs to continue to work on (the health system, schools and universities, labor, union, and political reforms). Furthermore, corruption and violent crimes are still high and remain another one of Brazil’s biggest challenges.

I sincerely hope that Dilma will make a difference, will continue to improve this country, and will seek to further the progress of this country and not only the appearance of the country in the International world. Most of all, I hope that Dilma understands what truly needs fixing in my opinion, the importance of equal education for every child, this will in return create a better family structure and equal opportunities and the presence of a community.

about a sense of community…

I grew up in many places where being a part of a community seemed natural… second nature. Your neighbor drops her wallet, you pick it up. I see a can on the floor, I throw it away. You need a cup of sugar, sure! They are simple things… things that make people want to live altogether in the same place. However, I didn’t realize that this is something very precious. A sense that everyone is working for the good of other people so we can all live in a better place. Am I being naive? Maybe. However, if I thought there was one big thing missing in São Paulo that would make a big difference I would say community. A sense of feeling connected; motivated by each other to improve ourselves and the place we live in.

The dictionary describes community as a group of people in a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities and society. Wake up São Paulo! We all live here… we all need to survive! So let’s try and help each other out. Maybe it goes back to my argument about education being the primary problem in Brazil. In the end, with education comes respect, with respect comes community… right?

I think the closest I have felt to a community here was when I went to Favela Rocinha. Favela is a Brazilian shanty town and Rocinha is the name of one of the biggest Favelas not only in Rio, but in Brazil. G and I visited the neighborhood a couple of years ago and I will never forget it because of the sense of community I felt when I was inside this place. Unfortunately, Favelas are usually funded and maintained by drug trafficking and drug-lords, so putting that detail aside the sense of community is much stronger in a place like this. Everyone is working together to create a community. Why is it like this? I understand that the people within this community probably earn much less than the average person in Brazil, they probably have less education, less things, less worries and maybe outside of this Favela they don’t contribute to society, but inside this Favela you see that people live so close to each other… it is impossible to not know what your neighbor is doing, it is impossible to get away with being rude or inconsiderate, it is impossible to not play your part in society (within the Favela). So what is it that São Paulo needs to change? Or maybe it is bigger than São Paulo and Brazil.. What makes us humans want to feel a sense of community or not?


about eat, work, play…

After the relaxing two and a half weeks I had with my parents its hard to face the reality of Sao Paulo again. When my parents came to visit I felt like I did every time I have visited Brazil… I felt like it was this magical country that is filled with beautiful people, rich culture, exquisite food (even if the best part is…its fried) it was so good to once again have a positive perspective on things. I found comfort in having my parents here… people that I knew… people that knew me… people who understood where I came from. Please don’t get me wrong I have met very nice people in Brazil, but there is and always will be some sort of gap… a space that isn’t filled… a space that you will keep wanting to fill. I suppose it’s culture that does it. Or maybe sometimes you do it to yourself. Anyways, my point is Sao Paulo is different when you’re on vacation than when you live here.

Is it possible to be on vacation in the city you live in? I guess for me it was! I didn’t need to take public transportation, I didn’t need to worry about time, money, traffic, writing reports and looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m safe. No sir (and ma’am)…I walked the streets like I owned the town. I ate out without worrying about money. I enjoyed the city. And it gave me a chance to sit back and realize what Sao Paulo is all about… eating, working and playing. People come here from all over the world and all over Brazil. They come because Sao Paulo is the next big thing… it’s changing right before your eyes. It has opportunities that Brazil hasn’t seen for years. It is Brazil’s biggest hope! So yeah… they work hard here… they play hard… and you better bet your bottom dollar that they eat hard too.

It doesn’t mean Sao Paulo is without it’s flaws. Anyone that knows anything about anywhere knows this. Its a city where the difference between poor and rich is so clear it makes you feel a little nauseous. Where it may be common to see thousands living among makeshift brick homes along the hillsides where the rich look down upon from their tall apartment buildings. But what can you do? You are living in a city where community is a scarce word, where your neighbor is even looking for a bargain from you and where you find yourself doing and thinking things you didn’t think you would.

I’m stuck. Stuck in between two worlds! I can’t figure out what to do!

Sao Paulo is an interesting journey…