Friday, May 21, 2010

Our multimedia projects

Each team completed three multimedia projects.  Here are their works:


Team Dynamics:

Sport as a Universal Language:

Preserving Brazil:

Os Pedreiros



Art in the Amazon:

A Roda



Changed Values:

As Tartarugas Ninja

Camp Life:

Rota Virus:

The Fashion Show:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day Twenty-Two: Thursday, January 28 – Manaus

We slept in after our early morning arrival in Manaus, then headed off for one of our most glorious experiences of the whole month: a trip to a Brazilian churrascariaChurrasco is a method of cooking meat that is a combination rotisserie/barbecue.  Thus, not only were we eating at a steakhouse for the first time this month, but also we were being served from huge skewers of meat that were carried right to our plates.  Every cut of meat that we could possibly imagine appeared and we could have as much as we wanted of every slab that approached us.  Some of us tried things like chicken hearts and cow tongue, while others focused on familiar items like filet and brisket.  There was also a full-scale salad bar, which was a little different from the ones back home though it still felt quite luxurious to have such a spread of selections available to us. 

Because some of us had barely eaten dinner last night and most of us slept through breakfast, we were REALLY hungry.  There was no more perfect place for us to land in that moment than at a churrascaria.  We ate piles and piles and piles of meat, all of which was cooked to perfection.  Even the garlic bread that they served seemed transcendent in some way.  They had some pre-made desserts in which we also indulged, including some mousse/pudding items and fresh strawberries and thick cream. 

The only possible downside to our whole experience was that we were desperate to sleep after such a heavy meal.  We knew that we were going to connect again with the kids that we met on our first day in Brazil, so we feared that we were going to have to drag our sleepy bodies out to their headquarters with or without naps.  As it turned out, though, Moises and the kids were intending to have their event at about 5:00 anyway, leaving us plenty of time to get some sleep.  Perfect. 

We all awoke completely ready to join in on the rally that Moises and the kids had planned, even though we didn’t really know what it would be like.  We brought all of our percussion instruments just in case they would come in handy and it turned out to be a great idea.  When we arrived at the headquarters (actually someone’s house), the kids and adults were all lined up and wearing vests to identify their organization.

As soon as we lined up too, they began marching through the streets of their community singing a song about the earth and forwarding a message about protecting the environment.  They had made some homemade percussion instruments so we shared ours with them and we used some of theirs.  Shawny “marched” in a wheelchair, with Matt Beutner as her driver. 

Everywhere we went people flocked into the streets to see what was going on and we helped to distribute some stickers that carried their message.  The march ended at a local park, where the Brazilians challenged us to a soccer game.  First, the U.S. women took on the Brazilian women and girls (with Shawny/Matt B. as goal keeper) then the men challenged each other (with Jesse as goal keeper).  Noelle scored two goals to help the women win 2-1; the men’s game ended with a 0-0 tie.

We all returned to the house and had fresh mango juice, chicken sandwiches, cokes and watermelon.  The kids were gathering around and asking us how to say all kinds of obscure things in English (no dirty words though – they didn’t even ask!) so we think whoever visits next should do some lesson plans for the group of kids in Manaus. 

When we left the house, we learned that we had gotten pretty attached to the group pretty quickly.  They were begging us to return some day, which we expect to do. 

We stuck around so long that we had to really hurry to get home and shower for our flight home.  We hustled to the airport with plenty of time to spare, but were shocked to undergo the most extensive security check that any of us had ever experienced. 

The airport personnel touched every single item in our carryon bags, including each individual page of Ciara’s journal. They made Shawny take off her full leg brace and stand on her broken leg.  They took a flower that Louro had handmade for each of us and pulled it apart piece by piece (not on all of them, just on one).  They confiscated items that would easily pass a U.S. inspection.  It was crazy and it took quite a long time. 

Once they had completed this whole process at the x-ray machine, they had us walk about twenty more feet and then they did it all again.  We barely made our flight, but because we were about a third of the passengers on the entire plane, they had to wait.  Somehow, this grueling process probably helped us to overcome our separation anxiety, as it made us glad to get on the plane and away from those inspectors. 

From there we faced about thirteen hours of flight time and another three hours of layover in Atlanta.  We landed in California before noon on Friday and we expect to spend the entire weekend finishing our final projects in an SMC computer lab.  Again, we invite you to join us on Thursday, February 11, at 7:00 p.m. in the Soda Center on the Saint Mary’s campus where we will show one project from each team. 

One thing that we all recognize is that the success of our venture this month is largely due to many of you readers out there.  Some of you helped to pay for our trips.  Some of you are the staff and administrators at Saint Mary’s that make Jan Term possible.  Some of you provided moral support and encouragement at times when we were struggling.  And all of you paid attention to help us recognize that what we were doing was important and meaningful even beyond the scope of our immediate experiences.  Thanks.

Graffiti in Manaus.

The insane clouds of Brazil.

Who let the dogs out?

 Shawny decided the safest way to get around with a broken leg was on a motorcycle.

A fire juggling clown in the middle of the street.

In Manaus we were treated to Churrascaria, a Brazilian style meat buffet. Ana was pretty excited.

Bryan and Gianna take over the sign in the conservation parade on the streets of Manaus.  

One of the little girls we hung out with before and after our time in Santarem. She was going to come home in our luggage along with Lua.

After the parade and soccer game, we all got together on the soccer field for a picture.

Some kids watched the soccer game. Maybe they were tired from the march.

Beutner pushes Shawny around the goal mouth for a 2 - 1 victory over the Brasilian girls.  

The restaurant named Bufalo where we ate our body weights in meat.

Walking the streets in Manaus using percussion instruments to send a message about the environment.

The huge speaker on top of the car that sent the message that the people of Manaus need to save the Earth.

The sunset in Manaus as we arrived at the soccer field.

After the soccer match we posed with the kids of Manaus and took a group picture.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day Twenty-One: Wednesday, January 27 – Last Day in Santarém

We awoke for the last time in our bunk beds at camp.  Tonight we go to the Santarém airport just before midnight and fly to Manaus in the wee hours of Thursday morning.  We expect to be back in California before noon on Friday. 

Maybe because it is our last day here or maybe because it is just normal for us, we all woke up in great moods and laughter was ringing throughout the camp.  We headed down to the beach with all of our percussion instruments to have our last big day with the kids. 

The main order of the day was a re-do of the shirt-signing frenzy of two days ago.  On Monday, the kids started asking for our autographs and we returned the request by asking them to sign our shirts.  We only had washable markers that day though, so we had to bring Sharpies today to make things last a bit longer. 

The kids were crazy for us to write them notes in English, some of which we wrote on their clothing, some on paper.  They intend to translate them later to help them learn more English.  Thus, we wrote words like “awesome,” “beautiful,” and “intelligent” so that they would get a kick out of learning what we think of them when they get their translations done. 

We played a few games on the beach and did a few reviews of English lessons.  We closed with a final round of the Hokey Pokey, both in English and in Portuguese.  We added to the usual chaos by throwing our percussion instruments into the mix, which made it much noisier and probably more fun. 

Two different TV stations showed up to follow our exploits today.  We were already on TV yesterday and now we expect to be on at least three more times this week.  We didn’t get to see the broadcast, but we are supposed to be able to get a dvd of it very soon. Strangely, the TV cameras had little effect on us or on the kids, so we just kept doing what we usually do. 

We brought some parting gifts for the students at the beach, including crayons, pencils, and little shaker eggs that we had personalized with the SMC logo. There was a frenzy of excitement (and greed?) over all of these things, but no one went too crazy.  Because we wanted to hurry off to work, we didn’t linger very long at the beach with the kids.  There were a few tears shed, but we mostly all expressed great pleasure over the time that we had spent together. 

After lunch we all joined together at the house to complete as much work as possible on the storefront.  We almost finished the floor, almost finished all of the painting, and almost got the doors installed.  The end is in sight, though we didn’t quite get there with our hosts today. 

Jaime and Seu João wanted to know how we kept so unified to work together so hard and so well.  We showed them a copy of the group agreements that we established during our retreats and talked about how much time we had spent thinking about the way we wanted to be on this trip.  They got a big kick out of imagining us getting together to discuss these things before we were even in the context in which we would eventually work.  It sounds a bit crazy even to us now, but somehow it has all worked out. 

We went home and ate dinner, leaving ourselves only about three hours to pack everything that we want to bring home with us.  Though each person could gather his or her stuff that quickly, we also had lots of group items that we needed to deal with all together.  Somehow, that process worked out too. 

We’re heading off to Manaus tonight to spend our last few hours in Brazil in that city.  It has a very different feel from Santarém, but we will make the most of it.  We will write again after our day in Manaus, then we will be in California on Friday.  Thanks for checking in!

Gianna teaching Lua how to play the triangle.

The kids playing with the percussion instruments, now that’s what I call polyrhythmic!  

Neil working hard on our last big push to finish the store front. 

 Schuiler taking a good bye picture with Jamie.

Matt Beutner snapping a pic with Jamie and Seu João.

Josy and Dani full of hugs and smiles on our last day on the beach.

 Brian House leading the kids in percussion.

 Edrião was one of the cutest kids on the beach, but not the most friendly…just ask Noelle.

 Lu, Ciara, and Noelle show off their autographed shirts

The Store front before being painted the minty green color.

One of the many pot holed roads in Santarem.

Beutner attempting to help Neil by staring down the mint green paint.

Seu Joao working on the iron gates in the back of the store.

 After a long day of painting and working the group got together and took a final picture of the store front.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day Twenty: Tuesday, January 26 – The Big Push

Special Note: Thanks for your comments and questions about the status of Shawny’s leg.  She’s fine.  She can now stand on her own two feet even without crutches, though she is still using crutches to walk.  Things seem to be healing well (and quickly!).   She has been working with us every day and should seem almost normal when we arrive back in California on Friday. 

This morning we slept in until 8:00 a.m. (Woo woo!  We are SO wild!) then went in different directions.  As Tartarugas Ninja headed into town with Jesse and Marcia to make an appearance in front of the City Council.  They were interested in meeting us, but we realized we needed some people working on the storefront more than we needed for everyone to appear at the City Council.  A Roda stayed in camp in the early morning to catch up on video work.  Os Pedreiros and Garfo went up to the site to do some construction. 

Unfortunately, the trip to the City Council was a big bust.  The main contact there forgot about the appointment (though it was confirmed three days ago) and didn’t show up.  His assistant called him and he apologized by phone.  We were just glad that we hadn’t dragged our entire group there as planned. 

The silver lining to the City Council fiasco was that the group that was downtown managed to make it to the Museum of Santarém to see our dear friend Laurimar Leal.  Laurimar runs the museum and is the unofficial archivist of art and culture in Santarém.  He is an artist (though he has gone blind in the last few years, preventing him from keeping up with his job of painting portraits of city leaders and displaying them in the museum).   He is also a musician and he primarily maintains and performs a long list of songs that were passed down through the long period of slavery that plagued Brazil for generations.  Finally, he is an important voice for the underrepresented citizens in the area, as his art, music, and conversation are always focused on the needs of the underdog.  He was not surprised that the city leaders let us down today, but he also maintains a healthy level of civic pride for his beloved Santarém. 

For the folks who went to the construction site, huge amounts of work unfolded.  They spackled, painted, sanded, spackled some more, painted some more, sanded some more, painted some more and generally got covered with all kinds of evidence of their work.  The place looks totally different already, but there is still quite a bit of work to do.

The afternoon construction shift got to add two more components to the list of jobs: installing a tile floor and installing a metal security grate.  The flooring team was a particular surprise to Jaime, because it was made up exclusively of women.  There was no big strategy involved in that decision; it’s just that the people who moved into that job all happened to be female.  Our “jobs have no gender” policy is freaking out our hosts just a bit, as they sometimes believe that only men can lift heavy loads or can perform tasks that involve tools and extensive manual labor.  We are proving their preconceptions to be faulty every day, but we haven’t yet cracked through their expectation that things should align in specific ways. 

Tomorrow will be our last workday.  We hope that when the day ends, we will have a completed floor, a flawless paint job inside and outside of the storefront, and a fully-functional front door installed. 

We must gather up all of our things and move out of our Brazilian home tomorrow night.  Our bus will leave camp at 11:00 p.m. here, then we fly to Manaus at 12:30.  We predict that many tears will flow in the next 24 hours . . .

Hey, you missed a spot.

Marcia might not be tall but she can sure reach those high spots with a broom stick! Shazam

Minty paint, but don't lick the walls!

4 paints brushes are better than 1!

Trimming everything but trees!

Working together to lay tile on the floor.

Jaime tiling the floor.

Jaime takes a photo of Noelle and her new spackle heart tattoo courtesy of Edson.

The storefront coming together.

Denis Glauber, Josy, and Edson helped us spackle and paint this afternoon.

The SSC (Spackle Sanding Crew).

Jared and G, steady rollin on the roof.

Bry-Guy Navarro was hungry for sour cream.  We didn’t have any, so he tried some spackle.

Quince and crew get to painting.

Sky tries a chicken skewer from a local street vendor.

Day Nineteen: Monday, January 25 – The Fashion Show

Special Note (repeated from the last two days’ entries):  We publicized the wrong date for our public presentation night in February.  It is really on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, at 7:00 p.m. in the Soda Center at Saint Mary’s College.   Sorry for the mix-up.

Other Special Note (also repeated from the last two days’ entries): Our internet connection has been somewhat unreliable due to off-and-on heavy rains.  We hope to catch up on our web postings today.  We have also had some late evenings filled with events and those shifts in our schedule have thrown us off a bit as well. 

We dragged our lazy butts out on Monday morning and several of us went to work with the kids while others got the morning off to go shopping and take a spin around the town.  We haven’t had a chance yet to collect all of the souvenirs we might want (not to mention gifts for some of YOU!), so we divided up the group today to make sure that those jobs would also get done.  Whichever groups didn’t start out shopping went to the construction site; after lunch, assignments switched. 

For the shoppers, one of the main things they appeared to seek was authentic Brazilian Havaianas.  Havaianas are rubber sandals that are ubiquitous here (and in the U.S.).  They were created in Brazil and have become an important part of the national character here.  EVERYone has at least one pair.  Some of them feature the Brazilian flag, so those were the ones that many of us sought.  We also got a lot of arts and crafts, soccer jerseys, and actual Brazilian flags.  

Shawny, Jesse, and Marcia went on a tour this morning of a local social service agency called Saude e Alegría (Health and Happiness) to explore possible partnerships with future SMC groups.  The organization is very impressive, partially because they have designed a full-blown floating hospital that they take up to river communities like the ones we visited that have meager health care options.  They have had great success in reducing diarrhea and its related problems, diminishing malnutrition, and improving the safety of drinking water throughout the communities along the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers.  We hope that we will stay in touch with the organization and that we will work with them on some future Jan Term trip. 

After lunch a local TV crew showed up at the storefront to interview us and see what we are doing.  They spoke to Jesse, Shawny, Georgete, and Jaime about our partnership over the last couple of years.  They took lots of footage of us working, so we should look pretty good whenever this story is broadcast. 

Once again, we had to hurry to eat dinner and leave, as our plans for tonight included a fashion show featuring Louro’s 14-year-old niece Karina, an aspiring model.  We hustled and hurried to make the 7:30 p.m. start time, only to learn that the event would not really begin until more than an hour later. 

A local marketing firm sponsored the whole shebang and there was quite a bit of cheesiness built into the program to stretch the night’s events.  The marketing firm succeeded in stretching the event, as when it was finally over, we had been there for almost four and a half hours! 

There were awards for the marketing firm’s employees, there were dance performances, comedy (?) routines, an air guitar performance complete with pyrotechnics, and, of course, the actual fashion show/beauty contest itself. 

The pageant part of the night was divided into a section for males (with five competitors) and a section for females (with 22 competitors).  We were told in advance that part of the contest is an evaluation of crowd enthusiasm for a particular candidate so we came prepared.

We brought drums, tambourines, cowbells, triangles, shakers, and every other noisemakers we could get our hands on to go completely crazy whenever Karina was onstage.  As other contestants came out, we thought that maybe we had some competition, but once Karina appeared, we realized that no one could touch us when it comes to making a whole lot of noise.  She loved the roar that we produced and we had a lot of fun making such a racket. 

As it turned out, the event dragged on a bit longer than any of us could bear and an annoying DJ was triggering violent tendencies in some of us (none of us acted upon those impulses, of course).  Karina didn’t win, but once we saw how cheesy the whole organization was, we were glad that she wasn’t chosen to represent them.  She was sad and teary-eyed when it was over, but she was thrilled at the appearance of her big pile of American friends. 

We skipped the after party to which we had been invited, because we had already had our fill of the whole crazy night.  Besides, we want to awaken and get some of us straight to the construction site so we can get this job as far along as possible before we leave on Wednesday night.  Keep watching to see how far we can take it . . .

Brian and Bryan go to work on the percussion instruments, providing the only entertainment for the night.

Typical Brie and Quincy- dancing for money.

Cardboard guitars and pyrotechnics equals a rocking show.

Scott pre-haircut.

Scott post-haircut.

Bryan’s first razor shave. Atta boy Bryan.

Apparently we are kind of a huge deal here in Santarém.

Daniel digging a hole in the sand.

Jefferson posing in the hole.

Georgete is the main reason we work with the kids

Domeciano stuck in the sand.

Josy teaching Brian and Jared the art of karate.

Head first in the sand hole building contest.

They buried Brian and he was thrilled.

One of the boys who has taken an interest in photography.

Representing SMC as the local girls climb all over Quincy.

Josi teaching us Karate moves on the Beach.