Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Funeral In the Family

Usually when you live in another country as an exchange student you get to experience almost all of the normal ceremonies. You go to weddings, wedding showers, baby showers, birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, holiday gatherings, and other special cultural events. However I never thought nor hoped that I would end up at a funeral. Especially in Brasil. Funeral events are 24 hour things. The person dies, they have a wake for a long time (which I didn't get a chance to experience, but they sit and pray and visit the dead), and then they have a mass and they take the dead to the cemetery. Now being it all happens so fast it isn't that kind of thing where you can travel long distances, or where I knew many people that were dying. However as we were driving to the airport in Cuiabá to go to Paraná, my second host dad told me that his great uncle had passed away. He lived in Paraná and under normal circumstances he wouldn't have gotten there in time, but being he had died on the eve of our travel, we ended up arriving just as the casket was entering the church.

I don't know how to explain what it is like going to a funeral where I knew nobody except my host dad and my two brothers. I had never heard of the dead man and I knew little about him except that he was a relation and that he played in a band. Also, where does the exchange student's role fit in terms of condolences. I know with my parents back home I would give them lots of hugs and talk to them, but is the role the same, especially if I had never even known of this person before...? The wonderful thing before this moment is I always put this in the "what if" catagory and never thought up a good enough answer because I thought and hoped it would never happen. All you can really do is be prepared for anything because I believe that any person would be different and react differently. You have to be ready, if they want a long tight hug, that is what you have to offer them, if they want to be alone you can show them you care by taking care of other things around the house or such and offering your company. However it's not as easy as one would think, and a lot of the moments are awkward. I feel like in this sense we have the same role as beloved pets do, almost, because we don't exactly have the complete role of children (because children would know how to deal with it, would know the circumstances, and people tend to shut down when they are devestated) but because we are here to help lift their burden, to make their day better with a hug or a smile, or simply to clean up the kitchen without being asked (not that animals do). Thank goodness it wasn't a closer relative to the family, and the effect wasn't as big. However it was a strange but good experience nonetheless.

I think the weirdest thing was being in a room where everyone knew the man and was crying, which left me wanting to cry, but not knowing him or anyone else. I didn't know how to act and I was such an outsider. I spent most of my time observing people and their reactions than paying attention to things. As awful as it sounds I liked watching people cry. I liked watching people hold each other. I liked that I could tell that he was beloved without ever knowing the man, to me that is the best way to honor him. Nothing was faked, nothing was acted out, it was normal people at a funeral. I felt like it was the beginning of a movie, you know before you get to know the other characters where you just watch and begin to take in the scene.

Then I got to thinking about death and I have yet to come to a good conclusion, but hopefully I have a lot of time left. However maybe some exchange student will be lucky enough to attend my funeral, I for one would be delighted in their presence. In the sad event that you get the chance, I advise you to go to a funeral in a different country, because every culture is at least a little bit different.

tchau tchau for now,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back to the Cold

Well my dear friends! It has been forever and so much as changed in this time!!

I moved families. I moved on March 1st to the Scholz family. In the house I was an only child, however I have 2 brothers that are 19 and 23 that live in Curitiba. My parents are owners of a chicken butchering operation, I imagine similiar to Golden Plump. Although I didn't have siblings, I got to know the godson of my mom and his family quite well. I also went to church a bunch more. 0:)

I celebrated Carnaval, which I loved!! I entered a group for people around my age that my friends were in and we went to a farm before to hang out and dance and then to the Tangará Tennis Club for the big party. This was 4 days in a row. Normally we started at about 9:30 ish and got home about 5 or 6. It was some of the most fun I've ever had because of the pure energy and exciement everyone had.

I traveled to Sinop with Maristela and Nildo. Sinop is a city in the Northern part of Mato Grosso, where the Amazon Rainforest is. I visited a park there where I got to feed monkeys, which dropped down close to my shoulders (they perferred bread to bananas). I also fed huge fish and turtles, and saw exotic birds. While I was there I met the Brasilian MotoCross Champion on the street and I stayed in a house with Divina and her husband who have 6 kids, 4 dogs, and 1 mexican. :)

I went to the Rotary District Conference. Here I met another exchange student from Colombia named Andres. We hung out a lot with the interactianos and I sold my bonbons. I had to make $100 for a project called Shelterbox, to give to my district. From selling my bonbons (which I made) in the rotary meeting, at school, and at the conference I ended up making about $170. After the conference ended, Alejandra and I went to the Jorge&Mateus concert, which was wonderful!!!

I moved again. I moved in with Maristela and Nildo, a little before the first of June. I will stay with them until the end of my exchange. They live very close to my first family, to the center of town, and Isa's house. I live there with them and their son Andre. They also have two other children who don't live at home. We live in an apartment that is two apartments, one on the second floor and one on the third, and they added a staircase to connect them both.

I had to say goodbye to Alejandra. Alejandra has been a big part of my exchange, she arrived about a month after me and she just left. Her family came to see her in the end of her exchange and she returned with them. It was wonderful to get a chance to meet her family, I greatly enjoyed getting to know them! I don't think I had cried so much on my entire exchange, imagine when I have to say goodbye myself.

I am currently traveling. I went to southern brasil with my second host parents. I left thursday with my pai carlos and I arrived that evening in Curitiba. I finally got to meet my host brothers, Gustavo and Felipe. We all went out for pizza and the next day we left for Pato Branco where the 70th birthday party of Marcia's dad would be. I also went to a FUNERAL. Now This was the strangest thing I had yet to do. I'll try and explain it more in detail some other time. Then I met my aunt and uncle and cousins (heloisa and matheus) who are super nice and I went and stayed in their house for a few nights. We all played a buch of videogames and watched a lot of movies, it was nice and reminded me of our family get togethers. At the party which was a lunch one day and then a smaller lunch the next we spent a lot of time outside lighting off fireworks or just hanging out, which reminded me of the way my cousins and siblings and I are during family gatherings. I ate pinhão (?) which is a typical snack in Paraná, that is cooked pine cones (not like our pine cones) that you open and then salt them. They are good! BUT here is the kicker, IT IS WINTER HERE. IT IS COLD. Well, it feels a lot like fall anyways. It's about 50 degrees here everyday and I am wearing sweatshirts and long socks and I love it! I don't know how to explain it, but cold has a certain smell, a certain feeling. I stepped off the airport and into the cold air and I was immediately back home. It was great!

Well I won't be home until Monday I think, but I'll try and update again soon!

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY DADDY-O!! Hope it was a great day!!!