Thursday, June 11, 2015

Brazil 2015 Photo Slide Show

Enjoy a slide show of captured moments from the Brazil Trip 2015

Global Ursuline Family

Having just completed my first year at Ursuline, I am still learning about the school community. What I will take away from this trip to Piedade is a greater sense of the Ursuline global family. From the common foundation of our schools we have fostered a connection that continues to grow. Family is exactly the word to describe the way I felt connected to the Piedade school community. What a powerful thought considering we got into a plane (well, three)  and a day later arrived in the southern hemisphere where they are currently experiencing late fall, speak a different language and have differing cultural norms.

On our last night I made an observation during dinner that at restaurants there doesn't appear to be a lot of turnover at a table during an evening. The table that you choose is likely to only be occupied by you for that night as time is slowed down for conversation and a relaxed enjoyment of the meal.  Here I got to know more about the teachers that took us out for dinner as well as some of the host families. Through a combination of English and Portuguese, and sometimes hand gestures for additional clarification of meaning, we discovered more about each other. What a rare and amazing treat it was to look through the window at life in Ilheus, Bahia Brazil!

Returning to St. Louis now, I bring ideas for sharing the experience with the school community, and within my own classroom. Most important, perhaps, is the global Ursuline family exprience that will continue to grow and connect us across oceans, continents and hemispheres.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Claudia's Experience

Stopping at a stream in the Atlantic Forest

This experience has been really amazing. We have done so many things that are out of my comfort zone and they have been really fun. We went hiking in a rainforest which was incredible. It was so interesting to hear about how important the forest is and how it is being destroyed. It was an absolutely beautiful sight. There are so many different plants and animals that it's hard to keep track of them all. I really enjoyed the hike and many of the other things we have done. I was uncomfortable at first but once I got to know everyone and we started doing things together, I've had one of the best times ever. It has been so amazing to meet all these new people and make new friends, both with the people I came here with and the people who live here. I am excited to go home but I also get more and more sad to leave as each day passes. I know that I will always remember this trip and the people I spent it with. Trips like these are the perfect way to get out of your comfort zone and do something you never thought you would and really enjoy it. I hope I can be an example through this trip that even the most uncomfortable and scary situations can be some of the best. I was so scared to come here but I am so glad I did and I hope many more people have the opportunity to go on trips like this, especially to Brazil.

Walking over a natural bridge in the Atlantic Forest

New Friends

My time in Brazil has been an absolutely incredible and memorable experience. I have done so many new things and I have also met so many new people. It is going to be insanely hard to leave them. I love my host family so much and I don´t even want to think about leaving them. They have done so much for me and I could not thank them enough for everything. My favorite part about this trip has to be meeting so many new friends. I have made so many new Brazilian friends that I will never forget. I love spending time with Natalia and her friends because we have all created a bond. Spending time with my host little sister is also something I enjoy very much and I will miss. Julia is five years old and she is now the little sister I never had. I play with her in her playroom and we communicate by hand motions. She is a sweet heart. The relationships I have made here are something that I will always treasure. I hope that I stay in touch with my new friends and that our friendships never end.

A hike in Itacaré

It's so crazy to me that we're already coming to the end of our trip. I have had so many amazing experiences here in Brazil that I will never forget. Yesterday, we went on a hike through a rainforest in Itacaré. It was amazing, to say the least. I do not get scared of insects and creatures such as spiders, for example. I was very excited for this hike, because I knew I'd be able to see things that I would never be able to see in Missouri.
 We saw many really cool flowers and plants. One of them was white and it eats insects. Another one was pink and only grows where people walk, so this is how people can find their way back if they're lost. One of my favorite parts of this hike was when we saw a tarantula inside its hole. It started coming out, and it was huge. Some people were scared of this, but I thought it was really interesting to see something like that in nature up close. I also really enjoyed swimming by a waterfall, while taking a break. It's not everyday that one gets to say they swam in the water of a Brazilian rainforest. We finished our hike after about 4 hours, and we were all very exhausted. This was one of my favorite days of our trip, because this was something I would never be able to experience anywhere near where I live.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

After Zumba Class
It’s hard to believe we have only been here for almost a week. It seems like we have been here for much longer with the things we do each day. Even after being here for almost a week we still try a hand full of new things each day and learn something new about the city or culture of Brazil. Everyone has gotten a lot closer to each other and more comfortable with speaking. Last night the group played water polo with a class and then walked to a burger place to eat dinner.

Making Brigadeiros
I don't like burgers so I ordered a chicken sandwich. It was nothing like I expected. It was shredded with corn on it and I loved it. Today, we watched more presentations from the younger grades comparing our city and their city and also Bueno Aires. After the presentations the UA group joined a Zumba class which was very tiring but very fun. After Zumba we learned to make brigadeiro, which is a chocolate candy that looks somewhat like a truffle. We spent the rest
of the day joining our host students in their last two classes: biology and writing. Joining them in classes is not as exciting as the other things we have done but it is interesting to see their class environment and compare to our. I am excited to see what the rest of our trip has in store.

Ursuline Love written in Brigadeiros

Makala Jones

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The True Meaning of Global Education

Kevin's Blog - 6.2.2015

Piedade has impressed with how they have integrated the concept of Global Education in to their pedagogy. Every grade level has incorporated lessons into their curriculum. As a means of displaying this knowledge, they have developed creative vehicles of publishing their research and understanding.

Jorge Amado and Mark Twain are on the right of picture.
Today we were treated to several plays that highlight both Brazilian and American literature. The first play, written by the their students, brought together the characters of Mark Twain's and Jorge Amado's novels. They highlight some of the similarities. Both of these legendary authors are institutions in their own right, but they share a style that brings to life the uniqueness and color of the people and places of Bahia and the early American West.

Tom Canty (the pauper) and  Edward Tutor (the prince)
They also performed an adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper.  While all of this was done in preparation for our arrival, it was great for the students that were involved and the Piedade students that were in the audience. With the performance of The Prince and the Pauper, they accentuated the themes social class and justice that are important in both Brazil and the United States.

Clearly a herculean effort was undertaken to bring these performances together. American stories were read. Themes and concepts were discussed. Manuscripts were composed. Lines were rehearsed and memorized. Dances were choreographed and practiced. Costumes were designed and created. Dozens of students were organized. I was blown away.

UA students hanging with Jorge Amado.

Exploring the St. Louis - Ilheus Connection

Yesterday, we had a morning of presentations from all of the lower grade levels at Piedade. We were all very impressed and some of our students even remarked that we should do more at Ursuline to connect our two cultures and schools. I hope we do too!

Dancing the Samba
The preschool and kindergarten classes sang for us an invited us to dance the samba with them. As the song went, "When you hear the music playing, if you don't feel like dancing the samba you must be crazy or have a broken leg" (rough paraphrasing).

Next, we came out into the courtyard to watch capoeira, a type of fighting dance that originated in Brazil. Students and teachers demonstrated some of the moves and then invited our students to dance.

Gooey Butter Cake, recipe at left
After a short slide show of projects that students had completed comparing Ilheus to St. Louis and Buenos Aires, we were led to three different food stations that were serving foods from each of the three cities studied. The boards at each station included recipes in Portuguese and English. Any guess on what was chosen for St. Louis? Gooey Butter Cake was right! We were impressed with how well they did getting the recipe correct.
Abará, classic dish from Ilheus
For Ilheus the recipe chosen was Abará, made with ground black-eyed peas surrounding shrimp and steamed in banana leaves. What a treat!

Sydney and Cristina checking the St. Louis trivia facts.
In Math class, students had developed board games based on the three cities. From the games I was able to observe, they included plenty of trivia about St. Louis and the other cities. What a fun way to learn more about the sister cities!

Several class presentations from the Elementary school grades followed. They covered American food packaging; a comparison of our school to theirs; a comparison of our cities including photographs of very similar sites and landmarks in both; a comparison of the Mississippi to rivers in Brazil; a comparison of the native peoples in the St. Louis area to the native peoples of the Ilheus region; and finally an exploration of the Blues as an influence on Brazilian music and its origins in America. In every classroom there was an opportunity to taste, watch, listen and otherwise participate in the presentations.
1st graders after sharing a dance with us
Learning about St. Louis vs. Ilheus after enjoying fresh cocoa fruit
A spread of traditional native Brazilian foods, including root vegetables not found in the US and tapioca flour

After the presentations we broke for lunch. All of us needed some time for mental digestion as well. I am left very impressed with how well they had integrated St. Louis into so many of their classes. The focus on the two cities (three when you count Beunos Aires) instead of on whole countries was a great lens to explore a diversity of topics. The multi-sensory aspects of the projects encouraged engagement by both the Brazilian as well as American students. The language barrier was overcome largely through practical demonstration.

Artisan Craft Market
The afternoon was spent touring the city of Ilheus which ended at a trip to the marketplace. By evening our bags were full of souvenirs and our minds full of even more valuable mementos to carry back with us.

June 2, 2015 - Esparza

Students Performing American Music
This morning I was able to go to Fa's English class that she attends every Tuesday and Thursday. Typically, they would just read stories and answer questions, but because I was there they took advantage and decided to have  question and answer session with me. I was very nervous but everyone in the class spoke English very well! They all freaked out when I told them I was an American. One boy said, "Oh my gosh! She's from America!!!!" It was so cute seeing their reactions. It was the same as the other people here in Brazil: welcoming. They were so excited to learn about the way I lived and my family! My host family just last night asked to see pictures of my family, but that was the first thing they asked to know about. I laughed when they started asking about how high school was because they kept relating it to High School Musical! After talking about my family and school, they continued to ask me about college and my traditions. I had to explain both american and Mexican traditions. Before I knew it, an hour had gone by and it was time to go. Then, we took a taxi to Piedade. Fa had to leave because she had tennis class, but I got to stay at the school and go to the presentations the lower grades had prepared for us.
Music in the courtyard
I loved the way the children here just let loose in front of us. I, along with the other girls, found the musical aspect of Brazil to be the most interesting! (We loved the boy band that played today.) After performing some songs in the auditorium, the party moved outside to the courtyard. Boys brought their guitars and their drum box things and began to play Brazilian music for us. It got a little strange, but interesting, when the younger student decided to dance for us to the music! Sadly, they did not know any american songs, so we sat through about half  an hour of Brazilian music. (NOT COMPLAINING) I love the music here!! I'm already starting to get sad about having to leave in 7 days. :(
Sidenote: I was just told we might get Mexican food tonight!!!! I miss my mom's food so much!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Experiences in Brazil

This trip has been very interesting so far. It's hard to explain. Everything is so different from St. Louis and it is really hard to adjust, but it has been really fun. Yesterday we went river rafting which was really fun. I have done something like that before but I was still really nervous. We went zip-lining again but this time we went into the water which was really cool. I really enjoy doing group activities because I feel like I am getting to know the other St. Louis people as well as the Brazilian students. I am really excited to see what the next few days have in store because there is so much that I want to do before we leave.

One thing that I have been very willing to try is the food. I am always scared to try new foods but I have tried a lot. And some of it was very good. Their pizza is different from America but really good and they have a lot of different things to try. I tried coconut water and fresh coconut even though I have never liked coconut and this was no different, but I am glad I tried it.
I have never been this far away from home and have never done anything even similar to this experience, especially without my family, so this is very difficult for me but I have enjoyed it so far. The language barrier makes things more complicated but the students and teachers actually speak English pretty well. I can't wait to go home and see my friends and family but I know that I will be sad to leave because this is such a beautiful country and I have already had so many great experiences.

-Claudia Peth

My experience

Kylie Dancing
So far, this experience has been so amazing that it is hard to put into to words... but I am going to try my best. I have done so many things that I never imagined myself doing. This past weekend, we went zip-lining and this is something that I never thought I would do. I was incredibly scared. After some convincing, I got myself to walk up to the station and I eventually put the harness on. This was a surprise. Next I walked up to the place where you drop off and then  I panicked. I was so nervous, and I did not know if I even wanted to go. My friends, Miss Payne, and the  Brazilians helped me get over my fear and after a short panic attack, I finally left. I am so glad I went!! The zip line went over the beach and ocean. It was insanely beautiful...once I opened my eyes. That night we went back to the hotel and we had dinner. This was so much fun because there was music playing and I got to dance!! One of the workers taught me how to dance and it was so much fun. The music was so different but I loved it. Finally, we went to the room and we all sat down and just talked. This was a great bonding time. We got to know the Brazilians so much better and they were trying to teach us some Portuguese. On Sunday, we went white water rafting! I was so excited for this. It lasted about one hour. It was a very cool experience and definitely something I would do again. We had to work together in our rafts so that we would not tip over. When we went down a big hill, Natalia fell out. We were all laughing so hard because we had to go back and get her. Overall, these past few days have been more than amazing! I am so excited for what is to come. 
~Kylie Wright