Global Hope project opens students’ eyes to life in BrazilTuesday 22 September 2015
Biology and Education student Christy Flynn, and Childhood and Youth Sport and Physical Education student Lisa Bassett were among this year’s members of the Service and Leadership Award to take part in the University’s international education charity Global Hope.
The pair travelled to Brazil, where they worked with non-profit organisation Ramacrisna, which provides aid and education to a number of schools around the Brazilian city of Betim.
Here they share their experience:
Why did you apply to go on the Global Hope trip to Brazil?
Christy: I’d always wanted to go to another country for something other than a holiday or sightseeing, Global Hope allowed me to visit a country I had never been to before, while doing something to help benefit other people.
Lisa: Coming from a sport and dance back ground, when I was given the opportunity to go on a Global Hope project Brazil was my first choice. It has the best football team in the world and is famously known for its fantastic different styles of dance and culture.
Was the experience what you expected?
Christy: My experience wasn’t what I expected, but not in a bad way. I was expecting to go and do something life changing for others - as well as myself – but our visit seemed to be more of a cultural exchange. We spent a lot of time learning about each other though the activities we did.
Lisa: The experience was much more than I expected. It was a breath-taking experience every day. We were treated like royalty, almost famous. We were challenged daily, but it was worth every minute. We took part in lots of presentations, with one presentation even taking place in a church. Before I went on the project, everybody was saying the experience will change you, and I thought ‘really?’ But it did, it was so inspirational. These people have nothing, yet the staff and the students were some of the happiest people I have ever met.
What was your favourite aspect?
Christy: My favourite part of the project was learning bits of a new language from the children and adults. It was interesting, as when we tried to communicate without our translator, we would end up communicating through body language.
Lisa: Building relationships with the children, being taught how to salsa and samba by the older students, and just embracing the culture and surroundings. The amount of greenery was amazing.
What advice would you give students thinking of taking part?
Christy: I was kicking myself a lot for not learning more of the language and even more for not taking a translating dictionary. I feel I could have been much more useful if I’d learnt more Portuguese. Secondly, I would advise other students to bring a few thank you cards, I was overwhelmed by generosity and it would have been improper to leave without giving a few individuals a thank you card or buying them a gift.
Lisa: At first it seems really stressful and unorganised, but just go with it and it will all fall into place. Go with an open mind and be prepared to work hard, but also have the most amazing time of your life.
What did you learn about the country, people and culture?
Christy: I learnt that my view on everything was still to some degree stereotypical, you truly cannot understand something by reading or watching it, you have to experience it first-hand as there is so much you will miss. I learned some of the language and that things do not differ as greatly as I thought they would. The only thing I found different and better than our country is the laidback attitude that people seem to have. Being more laidback and not constantly rushed I found myself enjoying everything I did so much more.
Lisa: The people are so relaxed and kind. They are so inspiring and have huge hearts. The children are so enthusiastic and they have a great thirst to want to learn and be educated. The passion for music and dance shows in everybody, they can all dance and are brought up with music, dance, and football. Even teenage boys were up dancing, something you would not see in teenage boys in this country. They don’t throw anything away, it’s all kept and recycled, it’s unreal what can be made out of recycled materials.
How do you think your experience will influence you now you've returned?
Christy: I’m going to focus more on enjoying what I do, as opposed to just getting something done. Being rushed or being in a hurry really takes the joy out of things. Life in Brazil is a lot more relaxed, and when contrasted to how we live our lives in general here in England, I would say we do not know how to live properly.
Lisa: I’ve been inspired to pursue my ambition to become a primary school teacher and I would like to take the relaxed and kind approach to life in my future teaching. I’ve also been influenced in the importance of appreciating what I have and being grateful.
Take a look at images from Christy and Lisa’s trip in our Flickr gallery.
Find out more about Global Hope and how you can support the project here.