From July 2011 to June 2012, I participated in a study abroad program in Brazil. The program, American Field Service (AFS), placed me with a host family, and I spent my junior year attending a Brazilian high school. I lived in a small town called Aquidauana in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Apart from going to school, I made friends, traveled around the region, and volunteered in a local orphanage. This was the subject of my presentation for TABA (“There And Back Again”), a chance for students to share their experiences on study abroad or service trips with others.

I have wanted to live in Brazil since I was ten years old: that was when I lived in Rio de Janeiro, and although I returned to the United States after just five months, I was always determined to come back. As I made plans for the long-awaited return, however, I decided to go to another part of the country, so that even as I returned to a place I had lived I would discover somewhere new. I told this to AFS and they certainly did their job to place me in a location totally different from Rio. Aquidauana is a very small, calm town, rather than a huge, bustling metropolis. Mato Grosso do Sul has a distinct culture mostly influenced by its environment, a wetland called the Pantanal; its proximity to Paraguay; and the many cattle ranches throughout the region. For my TABA presentation I talked about some of the unique elements of the culture around the Pantanal. Below is the slideshow, which you can click through and hear my narration of the photos.