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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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