Ever since the first day I arrived at my new home in Brazil, my host mother Regina has told me to “feel free.” I would say this is the one phrase that she continues to use the most around us.
The first few times I heard Regina tell me to feel free, I did not completely understand the saying. I knew that this implied I should feel to make myslef at home and not feel any pressure. However, after some time had past, I realized that feeling free actually has another layer of depth – the concept of time. Keeping an uptight schedule is something that I just have to let go of here. I have learned (and am still learning) that it actually is good to let go.
On the day of our orientation at the Methodist University, our leaders handed us a tentative schedule. The word tentative scared me. I was told that things were bound to change in our schedule, I was going to be alone in my job shadow, and our volunteering groups were said to have been changed. This caused a lot of stress and anxiety – I felt like I did not know what was going to happen, and I was almost on the verge of tears. When I felt the tears well up in my eyes, I tried to stop and think of something comforting, and the one thing I thought of was the saying Regina uses constantly: feel free. I tried very hard from that moment on to have an open mind and an open heart to whatever was to come.
This change of mind facilitated a drastic change in both my attitude and heart. The moment I felt the most relaxed and free was during our capoeira workshop. I have been involved in gymnastics for as long as I can remember, and capoeira involves a lot of gymnastics and flexibility. About halfway through the workshop, the instructor asked if anyone would like to volunteer to be in the circle where capoeira was performed. I stepped up, did a few minutes of gymnastics and felt so relaxed. Afterwards, when the workshop had finished, I was able to continue doing gymnastics with the Brazilian students and instructors. The capoeira master even taught me some of his own moves while assuring me that I was very good (“você é muito bom”). This experience is one I will never forget and I will cherish it in my heart forever.
I loved being able to feel free, connect with these amazing people, and engage myself in Brazilian culture. Just like I learned that capoeira involves flexibility, I have also learned that I have to incorporate flexibility in my own life/schedule here in Brazil.