A city founded by a Portuguese nobleman and built on the labor and dreams of the native peoples. Santos City is one of Brazil’s oldest-founded areas, booming in growth with a blossoming history that made it into what it is today. On this trip, we took a bus tour through the city of Santos and spent the morning learning about its history. Our guide Jefferson made sure to inform us of all the history he knew. The morning started with a trolley built in the 1920s to a historic building and an old church that was built in the 1600s. You could feel the booming love that Brazilian people held for their city and the people that make it a community. Our tour guide showed us where the trolley’s machinery was, the building’s history, and the beautiful view from the roof. The church was small and quiet, but there were thousands of brightly colored ribbons to show the prayers and wishes of so many people before us. This experience left me with a strong sense of community and reflectiveness about Brazilians’ dedication to making their living area a community.
The name Santos itself means saint and the religious dedication of its people can be felt deeply. There were many stories of the Brazilian people using the church and their prayers to God as protection. I found this faith and trust in God to be overwhelmingly admirable. The ability to see protection and providance from God in a time of disparity, no matter your culture, is something that I have always felt to be outstanding. This community and church had no lack of this.
The history of Santos and the people that made it, like the history of most cases, comes with painful and hard situations. On this trip, we discussed the slave market in Santos as well as the slave use in coffee production, and it forces us to ask, how do you learn from and cope with painful history? Though we only grazed the surface of a difficult conversation about slavery, The reality of it was not ignored, especially in the coffee museum. The coffee commerce itself was critical to the building of Brazil’s economy today, and this reality is only present because of the break backing work of slaves. Through discussing this question with our guide, I learned from his perspective that the best thing we can do for our history is to sit on the fact that it makes us uncomfortable and not ignore it. He said that we could not be standing where we are today if it were not for all the history before, even when it was harmful. This is not an excuse to glorify all aspects of our history but rather to avoid ignoring history as a whole. I found this perspective inspiring. And it is a sentiment I plan to bring back with me to America.
While our morning was spent learning about the history and community in Santos, our evening was spent experiencing it for ourselves. We shared a group lunch with new foods and well-loved ones. After our stomachs were full, the evening was spent thoroughly enjoying group time at Santos Beach. For me, I found it refreshing to spend relaxing group time together and to reflect and discuss with my fellow classmates. It has been a blessing to travel in a community and to take away how critical it is to foster your community. Some days this is working on a single relationship and learning how to be a good partner; others, it is ensuring everyone is included in a grand adventure.