Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson participated in the Higher Education in Brazil study abroad program organized by Ohio State’s College of Education and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion that was in Salvador, Brazil last March.

I’m so blessed to have been chosen to take part in this life-changing opportunity. Before going to Brazil, I was going through one of the hardest times in my life. I was at the point where most days I couldn’t even get out of bed and open the blinds. My confidence was low and my will was even lower.

On this trip, I met some of the most genuine people I’ve met in a very long time. The compliments fellow students gave me and each other were real and unprovoked. The spirit of uplifting flowed freely and was unreserved. The people on this trip actively made efforts to make each other more comfortable, confident and enjoy their time.

The Brazilians we encountered were the most beautiful people in the world, inside and out. They were patient and warm, even if there were misunderstandings because of the language barrier. They were welcoming and conversational with any question you could’ve possibly had. They walked the streets together and interacted as a community.

In Brazil, many people openly stare. In America we’d consider that rude, however they did it to openly admire beauty. If a Brazilian thought you were beautiful, they didn’t hesitate to make it known to you.

We learned of many Afro-Brazilians struggles with poverty and lack of opportunity. But we also experienced the positivity and love that each person there contained. There is no perpetual pessimism that Americans have. They don’t work to make themselves miserable and let everyone else know that they’re miserable too. Brazilians don’t bond over complaining like we do here in America. They bond over loving each other and themselves.

My second day in Brazil, I had the strong urge to just hug everyone in our group because I was just so happy to be experiencing it with them, even though I barely knew most of them. I left Brazil glowing internally, hoping that I can carry that glow wherever I go from now on.