We’re a few weeks into ‘prework’ for my Corporate Service Corps assignment in August, now, and day by day it is starting to feel more real that I’ll live and work in Brazil for a month with 11 new acquaintances from around the world.
Prework is, I guess, a way of introducing us. It confirms that our assignment is for real. We’re being sent to work for a month in another country, another continent with 11 complete strangers, who are revealing themselves to us through weekly exercises.
It forces us to set aside a part of each day to think about what we’re doing. It emphasizes cultural awareness of each other ( reminder - we come from 10 countries ) as well as researching culture in Brazil.
We took a test and had our data plotted on a cultural measurement tool. I was a little shocked to see how much I vary in thinking from people in Brazil. My assumptions were that Brazilians were easy going people. It turns out from the cultural data, that they value facts, details and hierarchies!
We were tasked to interview another person, and be interviewed by yet another person on the team. We are listening to the interviews of others in our weekly meeting, and chatting together on a Slack organization that we made for the group. Through exercises, we’re figuring out each other’s culture and learning a little about the culture of the city we’ll be working in.
Today I applied for a business visa. I gathered up the necessary documents, photos and letters and handed over my passport to the Embassy of Brazil in Ottawa for processing. My flight is booked and I’ve already started thinking about what to pack!
While we’re waiting to hear about what problem I’ll be working on, we’ve begun figuring out logistics. For the month we’re there, we’re there to work … so that means applying for a visa, booking tickets to Sao Paulo.
At first I accepted that the extent of Brazil that I’d see was the city of Campinas. But, I can travel a little after the end of the assignment at my own expense … so I bought a guide book to Brazil and started researching.
Brazil is enormous, and diverse. There are so many places that seem unique, and beyond interesting … perhaps even more than any other country I’ve been to in my life. So, I’m going to stay a week longer. There are two immediate things that I’d love to see. One of them is Rio De Janeiro, and the other is the Amazon. If I had to choose one it would be the Amazon.
I’m working on a plan to spend a few days at a jungle lodge, joining one of the other participants. When plans are final I’ll write a bit more.
I’ve been reflecting on the whirlwind of traveling that I had the opportunity to do in the past couple of years. I’ve been very lucky - having been to South America twice, for just a couple of weeks, and promising myself that I’d return to see Patagonia some day.
Since this CSC trip requires more preparation, and since I’m spending a month living in a Brazilian city, I’m trying to savour the experience more - slow down and be mindful, and take some more time to reflect on the trip, and the past few years while I can.