Kyle participated in the Higher Education in Brazil study abroad program organized by the College of Education and Human Ecology and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) that was in Salvador, Brazil during spring break 2020.
Brazil was such a life-changing experience for me. Let me first start by saying that having the opportunity to have been selected for this trip was such a blessing and I am immensely grateful to have had this experience. During the time we did go, with the emergence of the coronavirus, I initially had my doubts due to the news being reported about the strict advisories of international travel but I knew that a trip like this, wouldn’t come again, so I took that leap of faith and went for it.
Once we touched down in Salvador, it was clear that there was something special about the atmosphere. It felt as if I was home. Throughout the week this feeling only grew and made my stay in the country feel much more empowering. The Brazilian way of life is something I quickly adopted, from the welcoming people, the food, the samba and the overall hospitality. One major lesson I picked up from the trip was from our dance instructor, Antonio Cozido, was it all starts with your attitude and allowing yourself to be open to new things and loving yourself can really change the scope of your narrative when it comes to moving throughout life. This lesson made my experience much more impactful.
One huge takeaway I want to emphasize about this trip is the richness and immense presence of Black culture within the city of Salvador. It is something that is embraced by the citizens of Salvador and the term “Negro” is a term of endearment that many Soteropolitanos (citizens of Salvador) use to describe themselves. Growing up Black in America as a descendant of formerly enslaved Africans, I have had my struggles with appreciating my identity of Blackness due to the emphasis of cultural division put amongst Black people in America rather than unity (which has been in embraced in more recent years). The unity I once longed for in America I found in Brazil and has impacted me to one day return to this beautiful nation.
One final remark I would like to make is a thank you to all of our amazing trip advisors: Grace, Dr. Moore, Dr. Steve, and Dan, as well as our amazing Brazilian tour guides: Clara Ramos and Freddy. Clara and Freddy invited us into their nation with such open arms and "baptized us" as Brazilians. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and have walked away empowered by the beautiful culture and way of life of this nation.