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.
Vicki, Ivanete and I spent the morning visiting several local schools and the city Department of Education.
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!
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.
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.
Today we spent the day touring this amazing area. Here are just some of the sights from today.
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!)
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.
On our way to São Paulo tomorrow. Definitely will be avoiding this!