Were fantastic…. This city is just tremendous. It’s like New York X 6. I swear. Just look here (a photo which doesn’t even do it justice). The city has over 20 million people in it, which is hard to begin to fathom. On my final day my lovely Turkish roommate and I did the Afro-Brazilian Museum, the Modern Art Museum, two large and lovely parks, the main shopping street, lunch, the neighborhood of “Little Japan” (little known fact- Brazil has an enormous Japanese population, most of which is centered in Sao Paolo), the Cathedral, and even saw a spectacular view of Sao Paolo from one of the many skyscrapers (hence the many photos from above on FB). Then we jumped in the taxi and were at the airport by 6pm. Somewhere between the first museum and that last taxi ride through the sparkling lights of the city at dusk- it returned. That feeling– the one of wonder and excitement. That little travel bug, or gypsy virus. Whatever you want to call it. Instead of feeling annoyed by things, I felt in awe of them. In awe of the fact that the Brazilian government chose to fly me half way across the world to meet a group of 99 other international students (only 3 of whom were native speakers of English for goodness sakes), to give a lecture on their literature, not my own. They flew me to Brazil to give a lecture (albeit a short one) on Brazilian literature. Wow. It all hit me on that last day. This post does not negate the last post- I still have some natural trepidations about leaving my nest for 9 months in Brazil. What it does do is give me some perspective.
I think it’s very easy to not see the proverbial forest through the trees in this life of ours. We get fixated on the stuff in front of us, without taking a step back, or two or three, or 30000. We get lost in the annoyance of not knowing the language, and miss the million different non-verbal languages the world is trying to communicate to us. Many of the best experiences I had during this trip were the ones with the students who were open to hearing my broken Portuguese or my Spanish or German- in exchange for their broken English, or French or Portuguese. We didn’t always understand each other, but a belly laugh can go a long, long way. I felt it incredible (sometimes I lose sight of this) that a girl from rural suburbia America could be chosen to participate in an international conference where English was such a peripheral language. Leaving for Brazil in half a year in a semi-permanent sort of way, I hope I am reminded of this depth of perspective…. that there will be some sort of apartment for me when I return. And rest assured I’ll have a kitchen. And my things will survive storage, and I’ll be just fine integrating back into the Town of George’s (heck, I always am). Yet this time, as always (in Sweden, Germany, Chile, London) behind me will be a well of memories and traces that I will acquire and leave, pick up and scatter across this globe. Traces of adventure, of knowledge, of cultural exchange. I hope to carry these with me and give them to my students, my family, and my dear friends, through this blog and all the other myriad ways we interact as human creatures. On that note, good evening from Washington.