“Do you even work?” This a question I get a lot. And the answer is yes! Brazil may have a ton of holidays (which I gladly aproveitar, typically by traveling), and yes, Fulbright only has us work 20-25 hours a week, but that doesn’t mean I don’t work. This year was admittedly a little slow to start. We arrived in early March but, between local holidays and Holy Week, it was hard for us to start working until early April. Our first few weeks were spent planning activities, registering students, and brainstorming ways to effectively use four ETAs this year at UFC. Slow? yes. An issue? Definitely not.
This semester, I’m still running conversation club and office hours, but, I have almost all new students! Office Hours are pretty relaxed, and usually just entail students coming in to ask questions. Some days are admittedly a little slow, but the days when I do have students are always great! As for conversation club, it’s also going great! We’ve played a lot of fund games so far (some favorites include taboo and apples to apples). We even had a day where we talked about our families and some cultural differences between the US and Brazil (living at home, staying close to home even once you move out etc.) and then, as any true cultural ambassador would agree, we watched two episodes of arrested development! The students loved it! Thanks Netflix!
Since April, I’ve also run three seminars specifically for IsF students on saturdays. Each seminar is presented twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The idea was for the IsF teachers to send their students instead of having normal class. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen because they have a lot to get through! And I totally respect that! In fact, the one time when all the IsF teachers did actually send all their students, it was pretty overwhelming! Our first seminar talked about University Life in the U.S. Many of the IsF students are hoping to study abroad through the Ciencias sem Fronteiras program, and, while they have many options, a lot of students end up the U.S.! Plus, our university systems (and overall university life) are so different! It’s really fun to talk about.
The second workshop was on slang and informal language. This one had less students, in both the early and late sessions, but it was still tons of fun. Our final workshop of the semester was straight up TOEFL-prep. I have to say, I think this might be one of the least-fun presentations I’ve ever made. It was just straight slide after slide of test-taking tips (both general to taking tests and specific to each section of the ITP). Plus, couple that with the fact that I had very few students (the first student for the morning session was almost a full half an hour late). It was definitely discouraging. But, at the end of the seminar, I felt that the students were able to take away concrete tips for taking the TOEFL and, if nothing else, felt more confident knowing these little tricks. So, it may not have been my most fun presentation, but it was definitely useful. And, who knows! I can always revamp it to make it more fun and try again next semester 🙂
The last work-related project I want to talk about is a fairly new one. While I was home in december/january/february, I thought a lot about what I could do differently this year. Obviously I knew that I wanted to continue some projects, but I also wanted a) to leave some room for my ETAs to continue things or develop whatever they wanted and b) to try something new. Combine this with the fact that I started obsessively listening to Serial, and the idea for This Brazilian Life was born. The idea was to start a podcast modeled after NPR’s This American Life. Every week, we’d pick a new theme or topic and students would record their own stories.
I first met with a group of 7 or 8 students about the project in late April. The response was super positive! So where to start. We spent a few weeks planning–brainstorming topics, discussing tandem projects like the blog itself, starting a possible Humans of UFC modeled after HONY, etc– but then the moment arrived…It was time to create the record our first podcast. I was super nervous. So imagine how the students must have felt! Each student drafted their story on “what being brazilian means to me.” Then, after several rounds of edits, I brought my laptop to UFC, and we recorded the audio. It took me about a week to edit the audio (i’m technologically incompetent slash had somehow deleted audacity so we had to record on garage band THEN transfer to audacity. oy gevalt) But, once it was finally ready, I posted it. And then we waited.
The response we received for the blog was so overwhelmingly positive! Ok, I admit that I sent the link to my host professors (partially to humblebrag? but mostly to show off the students!!!). What I didn’t know is that it would get forwarded to the Comission and to people in Brasilia! *insert scream emoji here* Don’t get me wrong. I was super excited when I saw all the emails the next morning, but I now I definitely feel like the pressure is on! But, the six students on the TBL team are amazing, and I am fully confident in their ability to keep this project alive! And, let’s be real, I’m always impressed by UFC students, so I’m confident that we can keep up the good work. Click the link I posted above to check it out!
Other than these regular activities, we’ve resurrected American Movie Night and Lip-Sync Karaoke, and Natalie has started a Game Night! It’s been a blast! We’ve watched Pitch Perfect and Dear White People (and we’ll be watching Selma this month). I admit that I wish the post-movie discussion had been a little more robust, but I can’t really complain. And karaoke? Well, it’s basically my favorite thing on campus. We host it in “the bosque,” this quad-like area in the middle of campus. Last month, we probably had close to 50 students watching! It’s amazing. Students can choose to sing or lip-sync, although the majority choose the latter, and the performances are phenomenal. Campus do Benfica is full of divas. Check out my IG for some short clips!
Game night has also been a ton of fun! I love board games and Natalie brought a ton from the US including taboo, apples to apples, bananagrams, and more! I unfortunately had to miss out in May, but the April event was tons of fun! I can’t wait for June!
That’s about it work-wise. I’m still dancing with Oré Anacã three times a week and I’ve been taking a French class twice a week too! So my schedule is pretty busy. But I love it! I do, however, wish I had thought about the fact that I’d be learning French from Portuguese before I actually signed up! Oh well. The teacher is a Letras Francês student who also happens to be taking IsF classes! I absolutely love it! I look forward to class every Monday and Wednesday morning! It’s pretty basic, but I feel like I’ve really learned a lot. I’m hoping to take the second semester class at Casa de Cultura Francesa next semester. Fingers crossed!
My last non-travel related updated (that will be in a whole separate post) is about my apartment this year. While she’ll probably never see this, I want to give a shout-out to Marly, the 60 year old I live with/rent from. The apartment is super spacious and open (my room opens to this huge balcony connected to the living room!) and she’s just wonderful. Last week, I came home from dance and we ended up sitting and talking for close to two hours! About everything! It’s great because I have a lot of independence (so it’s not a host-family situation), but we get along really well She also has the cutest dog ever. So, thanks Marly!
I guess that’s it for now! I’ll be updating about my April/May travels in my next post and then, this time, I promise promise promie, that I’ll actually get back to blogging twice a month! Can I use the broken computer* as an excuse? I hope so. So, if you’re still reading this, obrigada for sticking with me in my month(s) of absence. I promise to be better!
*my P key broke, along with a few other less important keys, and it took over a month to get my computer fixed*