Alofa: The toilet paper goes where!?

Brazil:- The land of the futebol, graffiti and Caipirinhas; where the weather rises to a high of 32°C, the subway surpasses that of Auckland Transport and toilet paper is thrown into rubbish bins, not flushed down the toilet.

The first week here in Brazil was hectic – 8am lectures that run for 2 hours, horrible traffic, strong coffee… it felt like I never left home! But hey, different country, different me – or that’s the goal at least. My intention for this trip was clear – learn more about myself by learning about others and the struggle that they face.

If you know me personally, you know that I’ve never been a hearty advocate for LGBTQ+, feminism, climate change, or cultural rights. Although I wasn’t entirely against these concepts, being a female Christian growing up in a Samoan house meant I was instinctively ‘programmed’ to remain passive on topics that I had no direct input in because I was meant to be seen and not heard. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had a problem with this, but my first week in Brasil has already forced me to reconsider my position on some of these topics.

By the end of our first week we had visited an indigenous community, Boa Vista; we conversed with a representative of the tribe, watched the kids of the community perform a song and dance for us, and we managed to indulge the indigenous tradition of body paint. They told us of the struggles that they had faced since the arrival of the Portuguese and the battle that they continue to fight for their land to remain just as that – theirs. It’s actually a bit heartbreaking to see people having to fight for something that they never had to previously just because the ‘white’ person standards say so. Getting to experience a culture that is so closely connected to the land reminds me of my own cultural homeland of Samoa. The stories of the struggles my grandparents had to endure are forever engraved in my heart and experiencing a portion of that whenever I visit Samoa allows me to empathise with the indigenous peoples of Brasil despite the geographical distance of our homelands. A fellow student said it better: No matter where we go or who we are, the battle remains the same.

No matter where we go or who we are, the battle remains the same.

The way that the Brazilians and the Indigenous identify themselves is something that is commonly debated in today’s society and it’s a highlight from the first week in Brasil. As an Ancient Historian I’ve always been interested in conquest and the assimilation of peoples into the Roman or Greek identity but it begs the question – what makes one Roman or Greek? And the question echoes through the forests of South America – what defines one as Indigenous, Portuguese or Brazilian? As one of my favourite lecturers from the University of Sao Paulo had stated in her first lecture, ‘it’s not the colour of their skin, but it’s how they live and their beliefs’.

It’s not the colour of their skin, but it’s how they live and their beliefs.

Beatriz Perrone

I am grateful to have this opportunity to experience Brasil in all its natural beauty but the fact remains that I love living in New Zealand and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! (And no this isn’t just because I get to flush toilet paper in the toilet!). There is just no place like home!

Até logo,

Alofa So’olefai

Chelsea: Birthday in Brazil

Boa Tarde Everyone,

Day 2 on this incredible adventure and its MY 22nd BIRTHDAY!

We started off the morning with a lecture introducing us to Indigenous Histories in Brazil with Eduardo Martins, a history masters student at the Universidad of São Paulo. We have 3 Brazilian students joining these classes, and it is so nice to be able to hear some of their opinions and personal experiences, especially on indigenous issues in Brazil.

Following class, we managed to survive the subway and make our way to downtown São Paulo to visit one of the tallest building in São Paulo – Farol Santander. From the rooftop of this building, we had a 360 view of São Paulo. This view made me start to comprehend just how big São Paulo really is. Buildings stretched for as far as I could see, even where the mountains were. On some of the lower floors of the building, we were able to explore some of the art exhibitions and see some Brazilian art.

After a buffet lunch, we were lucky enough to have a full downtown tour of São Paulo by Renata, our amazing tour guide. We were still fairly jet lagged and getting use to the heat so walking outside was a little bit of a challenge, however Renata made it SO interesting and fun. As soon as we got home I went straight to be and had a little sleep to recover from the days events.

We were thinking of going out for my birthday but since everyone was so tired, I decided to do a little dinner with a few of the girls, We went to a cute little Mexican restaurant around the corner from our casa. It was our lucky night as it was Taco Tuesday and we got 2 for 1 tacos AND margaritas. After fumbling through the ordering process with limited Portuguese, plenty of laughs, and a full tummy, we headed home.

Me, Rose and Tayla at Taco Tuesday (La-Teish behind the camera)

I feel very blessed that I got to welcome my 22nd year in with such an amazing opportunity and group of people. I cannot wait to see what the rest of 2020 has in store for us.



Rose: When lectures come to life

Right from the get-go I have been adapting to the differences in communicating and operating as a diverse New Zealand based group in a Brazilian context. With the very basics of Portuguese that we learnt on the first day, alongside our invaluable mentor and translator, Talita, we have navigated our way through the Mercado Muncipal, Batman Alley and the Museum of Immigration.

I have been surprised by the open invitation for communicating in a lecture context. Despite not having any idea what to expect in terms of both the structure of daily routine and the lecture style in this Indigenous Rights and History program, I am still finding myself adjusting to this. There is such a high level of student lead participation and active engagement that is different from anything I have experienced in lectures back home. Our questions and personal experiences with colonial systems have had the ability to change the direction of the conversation and lead to different knowledges being shared.

This has been eye-opening in drawing parallels between colonisation in Brazil and Aotearoa. In both an alarming and humbling sense, it is becoming clear that the stories of the 305 indigenous populations of Brazil are even more oppressive and silenced than stories we are able to tell.

Our lecturers are history and anthropology academics and so are able to teach us the timeline and general political events as well as a general sense of modern tensions. However, what has truly led to the lecture content coming to life for me is having access to members of indigenous communities who are willing to share their stories.

Near Ubatuba, we visited the Boa Vista community of the Guarani indigenous population. An elder of the community, Alex, explained the traditions that are upheld and some integration of specific modern technologies such as solar panels. They utilise this naturally sourced electricity for lighting, while they maintain separation from most Western ways of being.

I particularly liked that when the missionaries introduced the Guarani populations to Christianity, they were curious and wanted to know about the Bible, listen to the mass and be shown the different ways of worshipping, however at the end of it all, they decided to keep the instruments – the guitar and violin – and use it to bring music to their people while sticking to their own cosmology narratives.

Boa Vista Community of Guarani in Ubatuba

We also had our faces painted by Alex as a token of reciprocity for the waiata and koha that we presented. This paint was sourced from their local vegetation and in reproducing this art on our faces, he was enhancing the male’s ‘strength’ and the women’s’ ‘intelligence’.

Unlike the Boa Vista community, I have experienced a few recent setbacks in sticking to my own values. This can be traced back to my lack of ability to properly communicate in Portuguese. I have so far, tried to order a vegetarian pizza “sem presunto” (without ham) and received a ham pizza, “sem bordo” (without crust), as well as a vegetarian sandwich, which ended up somehow as three bacon cheeseburgers and fries…

Day 1: Survival Skills in Portuguese

I am excited to see how this vegetarianism, Portuguese and Indigenous knowledge will continue to expand.

Tchau for now,

Rose xx

Anahera: My date with “Batman”

Heart SP 1

A bumpy start in my first trip to Brasil and specifically São Paulo, but things picked up on our first and second day.  The first day was interesting in learning some Portuguese terms, which we are constantly using on a daily basis slowly increasing our phrases. The research opportunities with the University of São Paulo are endless depending on the type of research you are looking into.  Make contact with Campus B to get an insight into the professoro/a and lecturers details.

Our first haerenga was to the Mercado Municipal, where the small Português we knew came in handy, but also was a hindrance.  The ability to introduce ourselves “Meu nome é Anahera” and say “Não falo e Português”, stopped them in their tracks.  But that they couldn’t speak English meant having the wonderful Talita from Campus B to translate on our behalf was really handy.  The kai as always is something that we look forward to and these were outstanding, different and wonderful.

Mercado Municipal 1

The sandwiches and pastie that were recommended was massive to say the least.  It was like a triple Big Mac burger but just meat and cheese. The local fish (cod) in rememberance of the relationship with Portugual, and olives was divine.  There were very few considerations for Vegan and Vegetarian, but we were lucky to find something that suited our students with different dietary needs.

This was a warm up for my final destination in having a date with “Batman”.  On our entrepid journey we met a group of students from Brasil and currently in São Paulo who had a 12 month exchange in Aotearoa New Zealand.  My moko kauae, confirmed for them where I came from. It was fun to catch up  with others from Aotearoa New Zealand, but it was our first day and I had other things on my mind!

Batman 5

As we continued our journey things started to get exciting as we viewed the local graffiti in “Batman” alley.  Starting with Joker and Two-face to the group taking a picture with Adam West (Batman) hugging Pele, a famous football player from Brasil, finally seeing the Batman spotlight symbol.

Batman 2

As we move into the discussion on Indigenous rights and Brazilian politics, opened the eyes of all participants in the frankness of the questions being asked by the lecturer.  The open discussion was well received and the following trip around old São Paulo into the new was fantastic.  An orientation that met our cultural needs in connecting with the whenua and the history of the land.  Something that we normally do when having a pōwhiri onto the marae into whakawhanaungatanga and then the kōrero nehe of the region.  There are some beautiful buildings which you possibly would not note if you did not do a tour of the city.

It would be an excellent opportunity in the future to exchange with Campus B or University of São Paulo students if they get a chance to come to our city and university.  I know that we have the skills to manaaki our manuhiri (visitors) well.

Tchau for now whānau.  Catch you when we hit Ubatuba.

Chelsea: Brazil ~ First Impressions

Kia ora whānau!

Where do I even start?? What a wild 24 hours it has been. Eleven of us set off for São Paulo on the 12th January 2020. It was fairly smooth sailing, bar one of us losing their suitcase eep. We were greeted at the airport by Campus B’s AMAZING Talita! She was SO patient and helped us translate everything.

In the morning, after some much needed rest, we had our orientation followed by a beginners Portugese class. I have never travelled to a place where English is spoken so infrequently, so this was definitely helpful. Giselda was our teacher and she kept us super engaged and made the class fun. We learnt how to introduce ourselves and say our basic information and a few key phrases such as “Tudo bem” (how are you?) and “Obrigado” (thank you). I didn’t realise how gendered all of the words are in Portugese. There are different words for ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ things. It makes me think of how hard it must be for gender fluid people in Brazil to be addressed with the correct pronoun.

Next stop was the Municipal Market of São Paulo. This is basically a giant food market with a tonne of fresh fruit and Brazilian delicacies such as pastilles . The street vendors offer you a lot of different fruits that I have never tried before. Thanks to Talita, I was able to find vegan options that I could eat and she translated for me.

Municipal Markets, São Paulo

After our tummy’s were full (and jet lag was kicking in), we decided to visit the popular Batman Alley, named after the famous batman window (pictured below). This is basically the Hosier Lane of Brazil. It was very hipster and had a bunch of call artsy vendors and beautiful artwork. We all really loved this spot.

Our afternoon group trip to the supermarket was so much fun. Some of my favourite parts of travelling are going to foreign supermarkets. I love getting to see all of the different brands and snacks, and Talita told us all of her favourite foods.

To end the day, we went to our welcome dinner at an all you can eat steakhouse. As a vegan, I was not very excited for this. However, it was more of a buffet, with meat served to the table. I had lots of options including sushi, and my new favourite vege mandioca (cassava in English). Its like a fried potato but sweeter, so yummy. I also got to have my favourite Brazilian cocktail, caipirinha. I have had these before but not in Brazil.

If this is day one, I am so excited to see what the rest of this trip has in store for us. Will check in very soon to update you all.

Aroha nui,

Chelsea xx