A little over four months ago I boarded a plane and headed to what is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I left behind what was familiar, structured, and comfortable and traded it for the unknown. In four months, more than halfway through my time here, I have lost cell phones and credit cards, I’ve been sick five times, and I’ve been homesick more times than I’d like to admit. But all of that is such a trivial price to pay for what I’ve gained during my time in Rio. I’ve had the opportunity to share something I love and value deeply with others, to travel to and spend time on a beautiful island, to learn a new language, and this past week to sit around a dinning room table with people from all around the world and share a Thanksgiving meal.
Most recently, my volunteer work has given me the gift of time for solitude and reflection. While I have taken a great deal of time to silently reflect on my experiences here, I am often surrounded by a large group of volunteers at work and at home, sometimes making it difficult to find time to spend alone. However, as we approach the holidays, many volunteers are headed home to see their families, leaving only a few people in the house and at our placements. For now, while I work with a other volunteers at the Emarca children’s center, I am the only volunteer working at Retalhos Cariocas. This has granted me the much needed time to contemplate and meditate while I work. It gives me the opportunity to pour my full attention into the work I am helping to create. It allows me to work out my frustrations and find solutions to any issues I may be facing. Most importantly, it has given me moments of clarity. Clarity to recognize the value of my work, clarity to consider my mistakes, clarity to find purpose, and clarity to imagine what is ahead.
Traveling abroad for an extended period of time has its pros and cons. It can be absolutely confusing at times, and it most certainly does not make all of your problems disappear. Traveling can raise self-doubt and worry, but what it crucial to remember is that traveling also gives you time to find a new ground and perspective. Rio has given me so many memories, experiences, and privileges, and among them I have been granted the opportunity to reflect, evaluate, and realize, yet again, why I am here and who I am.
Cheers to the time ahead and tchau!