By: Alyssa Turner

Danielle and I with our host parents, Jonatas and Regina, and host sister, Gabi.

Sunday, May 21 is the first day in which Honors Students were able to spend the entire day with our host families, an experience I am calling “A Day of Togetherness.” Throughout the week, much of the time my host family and I had together was filled with discussion about activities we could do on this upcoming day—go to the beach, park, church, or Paulista Avenue—and what we could eat—Pizza Hut, Açaí, or picnics foods. Every day, the plans seemed to change and I was constantly wondering what the anticipated day was going to hold. While each option called my name, it was up to my host parents to decide the final plans. Saturday night, a trip to the park was confirmed. I went to sleep with a mixture of curiosity and excitement for the day ahead. Although I did not know the exact itinerary, I knew I needed to “roll with the flow” and focus on the people more than the events.

A view from Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo, Brazil.

We all took the opportunity to relax Sunday morning. Once we were well rested, we hopped out of bed to get ready. We enjoyed coffee, bread, and cereal for breakfast and then headed to the park. Once we arrived, we saw many carts selling snacks, candy, and drinks. We bought coconuts from which we drank sweet water as we walked. After a couple of hours, we headed back to the car and onto lunch. Where we were eating was a complete surprise to me, but eventually we pulled up to a restaurant. There was a buffet option, as well as a menu to order various sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza, and drinks. My host sister helped me to read the menu and order a chicken sandwich. After we talked and ate, we headed home to relax for the rest of the day. At dinner we enjoyed the company of every member of the family, including our host brother who was unable to accompany us to the park earlier in the day.

Enjoying our coconut drinks with Gabi.

Through this experience, I came to realize that our togetherness holds greater importance than the specific activities we engage in. Spending time with the family that has openly invited me into their home and made me comfortable is all I could ask for on a day like this. No matter what we did or ate, we were together. Every aspect of this day has brought us closer and taught me the importance of being with people who truly care about you. It has been amazing to bond with them through walking, talking, eating, and so, so much laughing.

Soaking up the sun!
Categories: Brazil 2023


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