I realized, in retrospect, that my last post was mostly on overview of what I did in São Paulo, and, in trying to be brief, I ended up omitting my reflections on the event. And I had many. But the main thing I took away from our seminar was the idea of making it count. When I left São Paulo, I had eleven weeks left in Brazil. Now it’s down to ten, and one of those weeks will be spent at a dance festival in Porto Alegre. So really I have nine.
Nine weeks to run cultural seminars about life in the US. Nine weeks of conversation club. Nine weeks of trying to have a positive impact on my students… Nine weeks is practically nothing. But instead of panicking about how little time I have, the seminar got me focused on how to make my remaining time count.
With my mentor group, I reevaluted my personal and professional goals that we discussed during orientation, and as a large group we discussed creating bucket lists and making every moment matter. It may sound kind of cheesy, but these ideas really resonated. I came back to campus, hit the ground running with my ideas (lip-sync kareoke anyone), And now, an updated version of my Brazil Bucket List:
1. Host Lip-Sync Kareoke with Students. See some corny dancing
2. Learn to cook rice and beans
3. Learn the choreography to carimbó (that’s directed especially at my readers from Oré!)
4. Finally travel to Jericoacoara
5. Drink more coconut water straight from the coconut
6. Sucessfully host office hours with students (one student actually just left!)
7. Help my students think creatively about English and US Culture. Help them continue/create these opportunities even once I’m gone.
8. Work on my tan, but only after applying copious amounts of sunscreen
9. Eat more açaí
10. Explore new areas of Fortaleza. Break out of my Benfica/Beira Mar Bubble!
This list is constantly growing, so expect to see some updates over the next few weeks!
Since returning to Fortaleza, I’ve also started working with two students on projects for the UFC Encontros Universitários, a three-day long event where all the bolsistas at UFC will present an academic project or article. Both projects I’m co-authoring focus on the work we have done this year on campus and the impact it’s had on students. As we began brainstorming ideas for surveying students, it made me wonder: have I really had an impact on my students? I admit, thinking about the answer makes me nervous. But today, I had over 30 students in both of conversation clubs and multiple students come to my office hours for help. Three students have also already signed up to definitely come tomorrow; one of them will be coming to discuss an independent English-intensive course he’s designing for tourism students, inspired by a (failed) project I tried on campus.
So, while my work as an ETA is never finished, I think I can head in to these last nine weeks feeling good about what I’ve done and what’s to come. I will make these last weeks count.