Today our group gathered once again on one of the patios at the Bossa in Rio Hostel to reflect on the experiences we have encountered throughout the trip thus far. The overall discussion was initially facilitated by small group interactions and then of course the routine creeping of the blistering sun onto the patio started to occur. Here in Rio we have been able to accomplish most of the exploring ourselves because of the way our trip has been structured academically. I believe this is the undermining reason as to why we have all been able to disclose such unique perspectives and experiences to one another; it is because we all have adapted to this “go with the flow type of lifestyle,” which the Brazilians seem to abide by. Our tentative schedule has allowed for us to immerse ourselves within the culture and worry less about stereotypical structured lessons we often utilize back home. I think it is important for this trip to be carried out in this way, in light of the Brazilian’s laid back perception on time.
After reconvening, a well-rounded discussion was facilitated from the diverse perspectives we have all been able to obtain throughout our free-flowing experiences. We aroused topics regarding the educational and infrastructural issues in Brazil, while also discussing the interesting punctuality contrast in relation to the “Brazilian time,” further elaborating on how it may be reflective of their governmental corruption. Furthermore, the overall contrast between the social classes is blatantly evident in regards to the considerable financial differences, but the ironic part is that they are demographically so close to one another. The fact that these classes literally share walls (see photograph), yet are so different conveys the corruption that is imbedded within the veins of this Brazilian culture.
The favela environment reiterated how close the classes are to one another demographically but yet financially distanced at the same time. Yesterday we were provided with the opportunity to visit one of these favelas and witness how some of these lower class individuals and families go about their daily routines. After having meandered through the “Rocinha” favela, my initial assumptions in regards to this contrast between the rich and the poor have completely been confirmed. The tour exemplified exactly what Alfred Montero, author of Brazilian Politics, unveiled as he associated Brazil as not only an unequal and underdeveloped country, but an unjust country as well (Montero, 2005). He stated the following information in reference to the corruption within the Brazilian society, “These inequalities manifest themselves economically, socially, and politically and correlate with gender, race, and geography (Montero, 2005).” As I reflect back on my pictures, almost all of these previously stated aspects are captured in one single frame on my smart phone screen. It is ridiculous that such a large contrast can be captured on such a small device. For example, the majority of my pictures consisted of some sort of modern building neighboring a favela community. Experiencing these contrasts makes it difficult for me to accept the fact that this country is suspected to be the “country of tomorrow.”
Even though Brazil is a country that is so caught up in catching up, resulting in only superficial solutions to its problems, their high quality of life is an inspiration considering what most of them have to deal with. It is ironic that even though they live in some of the worst environments they have some of the most beautiful views overlooking Rio. Surprisingly there was an aesthetically pleasing aspect of the favela tour. It was inspiring to see how happy they were with what little that they had. Their contagious smiles reminded me of some advice that we had recently received from one of our previous tour guides, “No shiah.” It means never give up. This also reminded me of some advice I have once been told; a positive attitude is the most powerful combatant to life’s misfortune. Fortunately, I see this in every part of Brazil we have been to and it is encouraging to witness.
Montero, A. P. (2005) Brazilian Politics: Reforming a Democratic State in a Changing World. Malden, MA: Polity Press.