Valdeoso Patterson 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.
The study abroad program to Brazil was one of the single greatest experiences that I have had in my life. I loved being able to learn about a new culture especially from people who are a part of that culture and in their own country. Brazil is a beautiful place and the people there are even more beautiful. Hearing accounts from people who had been on the trip in the past is what inspired me to apply for it. Because of this, once I got accepted, I had high expectations for the experience I would go on. All of those expectations were surpassed.
The staff that accompanied us students on this trip were, simply put into one word…amazing. Our Resident directors, Grace Johnson, chief of staff at ODI, Dan Thomas, program director, James Moore III, PhD, vice Provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, did a great job of leading us and were always there for us. I felt as if I had been a part of their families and known them for years. I also couldn’t ask for a better Godmother than Clara Ramos. She’ll always be a part of my memories.
The biggest lesson that I’ll take away from this trip is about the Brazilian way of life. As we were eating lunch one day, one of the engineering students said, "The Brazilian way of life is about keeping your head up no matter how bad the circumstances. We don’t feel bad for ourselves here, we just keep it moving until we get it done." That resonated with me because I feel like that’s how I lived my entire life and with what’s going with the world right now—my senior year being cancelled, not knowing what’s next, etc. I just have to keep my head up and face everything with an open mind.
I know I’m over 300 words, but I want to end my reflection with one final thought. The people who I went on this trip are the ones who made it the most enjoyable for me. I only knew a handful of them before the trip, but now I consider each and every one of them a friend and wouldn’t have wanted to be in Brazil with anyone else. The experiences we shared will last a lifetime which as I stated on Day 1, was what I was looking to get most out of this trip. So thank you, ODI and OIA for choosing me to be a part of this trip, I am forever grateful.