As we are approaching the end of our trip I have been reflecting on our time here, and as I was contemplating what to write about in today’s blog, a realization stuck me. We have learned so much in Brazil, we have had such rich and beautiful experiences, and we have found an incredibly welcoming and friendly community here. Throughout our trip our dear readers have had the pleasure of hearing about all of these experiences, but I wanted to share something today which I have taken for granted until now. Something that I did not expect to get out of this trip, a growth and realization of friendship.

Honors Class at our Closing Ceremony 
– Image Courtesy of Vanessa

There is something about experiencing something “other” with a group of people that brings them together. In our case the Honors Class experienced an “other” country and culture, and from those I have talked to, everyone seems to agree that we have grown closer as a class. Before this trip we had been part of the Honors Program and as such we had taken one to two required classes together per semester. Needless to say we started out quite familiar with each other, but as this trip has progressed I have seen friendships bloom that did not exist before.

Bekah Benson being great
– Image courtesy of Rebekah Distaffen

I am sure my dear readers can relate to the experience of having multiple classes with someone and not exchanging more then pleasantries with them. On his trip I have had wonderful conversations with people whom I had previously only exchanged a few words, and that has been a wonderful opportunity. Bekah Benson took this to the next level asking everyone in the class to tell her five things about themselves she did not already know. I admire what a great idea this was and how many beautiful conversations she was able to foster. On our beach day many people expressed how happy they were to have the time to hang out with people they might not have normally hung out with.

Dancing with Friends
– Image Courtesy of Dr. Kovach

Beyond growing from the pleasantries level to the friendship level with some members of the class, I have seen existing friendships grow and deepen in new ways; ways that only such a unique shared experience can grow a friendship. I have certainly grown deeper with my friends, be it exploring one day with Rebekah Distaffen, running into the ocean with Kayla Richardson, or having deep conversations on the back of the bus with Julie, Jared, and Chris. These are experiences one cannot get simply by sharing a class with someone.

Kate and I with an avocado baby
– Image Courtesy of Cheyenne

But the most meaningful friendship I have seen grow has been my friendship with my housemates, Cheyenne and Kate. We have struggled through trying to communicate in Portuguese that we need unscented laundry soap together, we have had tapioca pudding parties and played hearts late into the night,

Cheyenne Eating Mango
– Image Courtesy of Kate

we have died laughing as Cheyenne attempts to cut an over ripe mango (and succeeds in making a huge mess), and laid on the ground star gazing as Kate points out the Southern Cross. Cheyenne and Kate have taught me to slow down and enjoy the company and peace of a relaxed night after a full day, and they have gone on adventures with me as our host sister, out of the blue, takes us on a tapioca run at 9:30 at night.

Cheyenne, Kate, and I
– Image Courtesy of Kate

My experience in Brazil would not have been the same, nor as wonderful, with out them. Thank you Cheyenne and Kate for being a wonderful family.


And thank you to the whole Honors Class for being so amazing. Y’all are great friends and I am so blessed to have been able to share this experience with you.

-David T. Wilkenson

Categories: Brazil 2018


Vi Price · May 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Sounds like you have received more than you anticipated on this trip and are aware of the blessing that it brought along with it. You will never forget this experience. Thank you all for sharing your amazing experience.

Kathy Wilkinson · May 22, 2018 at 9:05 pm

The friendships that start in college can and often do last a lifetime. The experiences you share, the ideas you explore, the time you spend together, these are rich. Parents often live vicariously through their kids as these kids go up. God, our father, I like to think, also does this. “Whenever you have done this to the least of my children, you have done it to me.” Jesus was on that tapioca escapade, He was with you at the back of the bus. He experienced both sides of the laundry soap fiasco. What a time you all have had in Brazil. Let this be a foretaste of the feast to come. Your lives are spread out before you. You have an unseen, but ever-present friend, who is on this journey we call life with you. Carpe diem, seize the day!

Rebekah Distaffen · May 23, 2018 at 12:24 am

David, this was beautiful to read! I am so glad we all got to experience Brazil together as a class and grow closer– it’s been great. And I really enjoyed our adventure that one day! Thanks for sharing this. I love reading about how much you enjoyed Brazil and how much closer you got to the people on the trip. It’s so nice to see that almost all of us have felt the same about our friendships on this trip 🙂 Great post! And shout out to Kate and Cheyenne for being great roommates!

Gail L. Swanson · May 26, 2018 at 6:50 pm

“…but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father… John 15: 15b

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