Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oi! Você fala inglês?

May 19, 2012

Oi! (That means hello in Portuguese) "Oi" along with a few other key words and phrases I've managed to memorize over the past few months, and a general understanding of the Spanish language from high school, is unfortunately the extent of my knowledge of the Portuguese language. Does this worry me as I'm about to head to São Paulo, Brazil for a week? To be honest it does, but only slightly...

Last semester I registered for a course entitled "Global Nutrition" with Professor Daniel Hoffman, as a number of friends of mine had taken the course during the previous semester and told me how much they had enjoyed it. It was a few weeks later that I learned how the course also offered students the opportunity to travel to Brazil for a week as part of a "service learning" experience in
 São Paulo. Being that the course focused on nutritional epidemiology, especially that of developing countries, students would be given the opportunity to volunteer at the Center for Nutritional Recovery and Education (CREN), a fully staffed center supported by the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil where children from shantytowns are treated for under-nutrition.

To me the most exciting aspect of this opportunity is that it allows us to combine the knowledge we gained over the course of the semester, with practical field experience.  No amount of time spent in a classroom can equate to this sort of opportunity.

Obviously I have some reservations, I have only traveled out of the country a few other times in my life and have the same concerns regarding safety and the inevitable language barrier as any other traveler would, but mostly I am incredibly excited. I am very passionate about the field of nutritional sciences, and this is an aspect that I am particularly interested in learning more about. Not to mention, I will be exposed to an entirely new culture, which is why as I leave this evening for the 10 hour direct flight, I am bringing with me not only my passport and digital camera, but an open mind...

é mais tarde! (See you later!)

- Jessica McKinley

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