Chris: Glass half full

October 1, 2010

So I know that it has been a while since my last post, and I guess that is because I have not been up to that much. I have been chilling a lot, hanging out with friends, and trying to save money for my trip to Rio. From what I have seen and read, it is such a fun city! I will be going with the group of CIEE—Salvador students, then meeting up with my friend Luke in Iguassu Falls. There are however two poignant events that I would like to briefly recall to you all right now. The first is one that took place in an AIDS shelter, and the other a life lesson that I still have not learned quite yet.

So, as you all know, I have been volunteering a lot. It is nice, because here in Brazil it is so easy to volunteer. For example, I had to tell our coordinator here, Matt, that I would like to do some volunteer work, and he took me right out. It is truly the highlight of my week. So anyway, last week I went with some friends to a place called CAASA. It is kind of like a shelter for children who are born with AIDS.

At first I was a little nervous. I mean, these kids have a terminal desease. I really didn’t know what to expect. So I walk into this house, and I am greeted by children coming up and hugging me. I was a little taken aback, I mean not only did I not know these kids, but I thought that they would be sick and in bed. I guess that just points to my own ignorance, but the greatest surprise that I had, was that these kids are just like regular kids. We colored, we played games, I was able to pick them up and all the things that I do with normal children. I guess that if anything this just points to the human nature. That these kids, who have a terminal desease, are still fun-loving, curious, and energetic kids. By the end of my time there I forgot that I was at an AIDS shelter at all. I don’t know what I expected. I knew that they wouldn’t all spend the day sulking in their rooms, but I thought that there would be something more melancholy. I left in awe of the experience and hope to post pictures soon.

Another thing that I have been thinking about today, was another reason that the the third-world and the US are so different. I was listening to this week’s “This American Life” segment called “Cry Babies”, and it had a segment on disabled people who made a living by starting law suits against businesses that are not 100 percent up to code. Some of the issues were that the mirror was too high in the bathroom, or that the coat rack was not low enough. The person in the story would then sue the company, many times without warning. I understand that it must be tough to be disabled and not have equal access to every public space, but something in this story seemed wrong to me. In Brasil, something like this would not happen. I guess maybe the culture is different, but there is no way people would sue each other over a parking space. There are just bigger worries in life. I invite you to listen to the episode and tell me what you think.

The third thing I want to touch on is that I have not made the most of my time here in Brasil. I guess I have been trying to save money, which is indeed important, but I have stayed in a lot. Then this past Saturday I went to a really cheap Jazz show at the Museum of Modern Art. I have been meaning to go ever since I got here, but haven’t. Then I went, and it was awesome. I had a great time, it was fun and cheap and something that I wish I had been doing this whole time. It made me reevaluate my priorities a little, and I hope that for my next month I am able to take advantage of every opportunity.


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