While in Brazil this past week, I’ve done incredible things. I’ve tried so many new foods I didn’t even know existed, I’ve discovered beautiful parks with trees more beautiful than I could dream up, and I’ve flown over a continent. 

This magical tree is on our campus!


Despite all of these exciting new experiences, I still hold my belief that the little things in life are the most fulfilling. And I am so incredibly lucky to have had these kind of experiences here. Some nights I’ve gone shopping, gone dancing, played new sports, but last night was my favorite so far.


I played handebol!


I didn’t trek through the Amazon. I didn’t skydive. I was just being silly with my host sister at home. Yes, I said home. These people have gone out of their way to accommodate me and all of my various needs and wants, but I mostly appreciate how much they’re just themselves.


Last night, my 13 year old “sister” and I were sitting on the couch, practicing Portuguese. (I was practicing my Portuguese, that is.) Then she just randomly took this blow up thing used for cheering on sports teams and put it on her nose, twisting it. For some inexplicable reason, she found this hysterical.



Throughout my stay here so far, she’s been a bit formal with us as we’ve been adjusting. But last night, seeing her get more comfortable, I felt so at home. I said that I had to try this game she made up if it was so funny, and then we just laughed our heads off while doing this thing that, in reality, wouldn’t have been funny if she wasn’t laughing so hard.


When our “mom” returned home after work, we made her do it too. She was a good sport and played along with us. We even got my roommate to try, and soon enough we were all sitting in the living room with these ridiculous plastic devices on our noses.


These small moments are more than enough to make this trip worth it. I felt so at home, so relaxed, so much a part of my family. I told them I was worried about not being able to keep up with my Portuguese after leaving here, and they responded, “No! You have WhatsApp!” I hope I can stay a part of Brazil and a part of their family in some small way after this trip.

~Colleen Denny

Categories: Brazil 2018

1 Comment

Rebekah Distaffen · May 14, 2018 at 10:48 pm

Colleen, I love reading about your adventures, and getting to experience some with you. I also love how much joy you find in the little things! Because that’s important to remember too on trips like this– not every experience has to be big, new, and meaningful. Some can be simple and yet still beautiful.

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