Festa Junina

Yesterday we participated in a Festa Junina at the middle school and high school. Festa Junina is an annual event, related to St. Anthony, John the Baptist, St. Peter, the European midsummer and the Braziian winter! It includes costumes, food, skits, music and dance. The costumes reminded me very much of Sadie Hawkins. All the students wore “hill billy” type clothing and there was a little wedding skit by the older students with a pregnant girl trying to steal the groom from the bride at the altar. It was hysterical!
The most amazing part of the Festa Junina was the dancing. Each grade had their own dance, or quadrilha, that lasted perhaps 15 minutes. It reminded me of square dancing as the steps were all called out in the song, but much more fun! I was impressed that so many of the students knew the dances.

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School Visit Marathon

Vicki, Ivanete and I spent the morning visiting several local schools and the city Department of Education.

Preschool class practicing their song for the Festa Junina.

Preschool class practicing their song for the Festa Junina.

Elementary school children lining up to sing "Here Comes the Sun" for us

Elementary school children lining up to sing “Here Comes the Sun” for us

Ivanete and some of her friends from the Department of Education.

Ivanete and some of her friends from the Department of Education.

First year(ninth grade) students give us a Samba demonstration.

First year(ninth grade) students give us a Samba demonstration.

We gave a presentation to the high school teachers tonight at Ivanete’s school. The longer we are here, the more I feel we are challenging their stereotypes of Americans. Vicki and I spent time after the meeting explaining that just like them, we do not always condone our government’s actions, and they should not judge the American people based upon that.

The news is filled with scenes of the protests. It is surely an interesting time to be here in Brazil!

More Parties

The hospitality of the children of Nova Campina is humbling. Two more huge parties today. The children are full of questions, from “What is your school like?” to “Do you miss your family?” to “What is God to you?”
There are no computers in the classrooms.
Only a few in the school.
Few textbooks.
Only a very small number will continue their education.

Some interesting facts I learned today:
In Brazil, the students can vote at age 16.
They can drink at 18.
They cannot drive until 18.
Many students have American names like Carol, John, Jennifer, Grace Kelly, and Victor.
They like Queen, Guns and Roses, and Justin Bieber.
They have never seen The Hunger Games, but love Harry Potter, Walking Dead, and Twilight.
Many students have cell phones, no iPhones, and they LOVE to take pictures. I have never had my picture taken so many times. I feel like a celebrity; they all want a picture with me.

At the presentation last night

At the presentation last night

Some students playing and singing for us today

Some students playing and singing for us today

Random Pictures

All of us on top of the radio tower in Brasilia.

All of us on top of the radio tower in Brasilia.

Gorgeous lake in Brasilia where we ate lunch one day

Gorgeous lake in Brasilia where we ate lunch one day

Brazilian Real  Prettier than dead presidents!

Brazilian Real
Prettier than dead presidents!

Cathedral in Brasilia Catedral Metropolitana

Cathedral in Brasilia
Catedral Metropolitana

Our Lady of Aparecida at Paroquia São Roque

Our Lady of Aparecida at Paroquia São Roque

Vicki and I with local teachers touring Nova Campina

Vicki and I with local teachers touring Nova Campina

One of the parties the students had for us.

One of the parties the students had for us.

Some students playing "The Girl from Ipanema" for Vicki and me.

Some students playing “The Girl from Ipanema” for Vicki and me.

Some of the students and teachers at Ivanete's  school in Nova Campina.

Some of the students and teachers at Ivanete’s school in Nova Campina.

On top of a mountain in Nova Campina

On top of a mountain in Nova Campina

Mountain climbing with teachers from Brazil in Nova Campina

Mountain climbing with teachers from Brazil in Nova Campina

Mountain climbing Nova Campina

Mountain climbing Nova Campina

Nova Campina

Nova Campina

Nova Campina Tour

Today we spent the day touring this amazing area. Here are just some of the sights from today.

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Last night, we were treated to a barbecue at Ivanete’s brother’s home. It was truly one of the best barbeque’s I’ve ever attended! Everyone, young and old, danced the samba until past midnight.

A couple of observations:

Family and friends are highly valued here, more so than in the states I would venture to say. Vicki and I are constantly in awe at how warm and hospitable Ivanete’s friends have been towards us, picking us up, driving us around, making sure that we are comfortable.

The people are very politically engaged. They are aware of the burning social issues and demanding their voices be heard, hence the riots in São Paulo and Brazilia.

Better quality education is a priority for both the people and the
government. While the education budget has increased fivefold in five years, as in the states, the improvements don’t make it into the classroom. There are some highly successful initiatives, however, that I feel are making a difference, which I will discuss in a later blog(I am not sure how to spell them in Portuguese!)

Nova Campina

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Yesterday we spent the day at the school of our host teacher Ivanete Landim. Now I know what it feels like to be a celebrity. The entire school spent weeks preparing for our visit. There was a school assembly with student performances. They played the Star Spangled Banner and even had city officials present. We toured the school,and some of the classes even had parties for us. It was incredible. We felt honored and humbled by the hospitality we experienced.

Again, I was struck by the integration of music into the school as well as the miscegenation of the races.

Another point of interest is how the students are fed during the day.Student lunches are free and students eat outdoors and serve
themselves. The food is local cuisine, nothing processed and the students and teachers are all very proud of it and for good reason.

It was an amazing day. Vicki and I feel in love with the school, teachers and students. They are all amazingly gracious and warm.

São Paulo

On our way to São Paulo tomorrow. Definitely will be avoiding this!

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/12/world/americas/brazil-protests