Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

14th December 2012

Lisa Tyler: Initial report

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Well, hello from Bristol! Where I have been temping and preparing for my gap year and where it is currently tipping it down with rain! I hear it is snowing nearby too. Whilst the awful weather is kind of bearable over the festive period, Im really glad to be heading to sunny Sao Paulo on 5 January yet also sad to have so many goodbyes to say.

Ive been very busy, both working full-time to raise funds for my trip, and doing lots of other necessary preparations. My passport arrived, I made an official application to do some part-time study at the catholic university in Sao Paulo. That then enabled me to take a day trip to London yesterday to apply for a student visa and so on, and so on. There has been LOTS of emails, letters, forms (and unfortunately, bills)! Insurance, visa, police certificate and everything else costs money of course. But it will all be worth it I have no doubt.

Anyway, Im delighted to have finally reached a point where everything seems to have fallen into place (dare I say it)! Tomorrow Im off to buy a railcard to make my trips to visit friends and relatives over Christmas and new year more affordable. After that there will be just a couple of days to pack and make any final last-minute preparations before jetting off.

Im really over the moon to be enrolled onto an intensive Portuguese course at the university, so that when I arrive I can improve my language skills to enable me to get on better. Not only will this help me out a lot, I think it means I will be able to offer much more as a volunteer. Nonetheless, I think this may be the scariest part for me Im so nervous about not being able to understand people, even though I have been to Brazil before and do have half-decent Portuguese, it is very rusty. And anyway, people talk very fast and use lots of slang plus, I will probably be attending some lectures in Portuguese and feel at the moment there isnt much chance I will be able to keep up with it at an academic level! Still, all I can do is try my best. And at least this course will help me along the way. Plus, it will be a great chance to meet other international students at the university.

At the university I will be involved with research related to at risk youth. This means working with children who have grown up in favelas (slums) where gun-crime is rife and poverty the norm. I would be really proud to be involved in anything that would help these kids have a better life. The kind of research an institution like this comes up with is actually likely to be taken seriously, so it is more likely to impact the lives of these children in the long term as well.

On top of this, I will also be teaching English in a nursery in a favela. Ive volunteered in similar communities in the past and it can be upsetting to see such poverty, and to work with children who are accustomed to violence. But they are so full of smiles, laughter and affection that it was very rewarding before so, hopefully, this will be a really positive experience.

There is still one possibility of working on another project in the favela that the university has links with, through a language school but this is not yet confirmed as they wanted to know I had the student visa before considering my application. But in Brazil I have learned it is normal to not know what is going on sometimes, especially as a visitor – and very often you have to be patient and wait for things to unfold in their own time! The most important thing is I have plenty of other projects to be getting on with even if this one doesnt work out!

I am so looking forward to being back in Brazil, with its friendly, smiley, full-of-life, welcoming people. Although it is a bit scary to actually be working and studying there and even more scary perhaps to be in Sao Paulo, which must be at least the size of New York! Yet, I think this is going to be a great challenge to rise to and as well as learning loads I do really hope it is going to be genuinely rewarding.

Well, only time will tell, and I will keep you posted

Lisa D


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