Sunday, May 11, 2014

Last week in São Paulo!

Greetings from São Paulo, Brazil! Woww!! The time is just flying by now. These past two weeks have been amazing and filled with so many wonderful site visits and guest lectures. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people I have been able to meet from so many different careers.The main emphasis these past few weeks has focused on birthing processes as there is a very high prevalence of c sections here in São Paulo. I was able to hear from both midwives and doctors themselves about their thoughts on the birthing process as they are extremely different. 

 The second week was primarily focused on HIV and the treatment and counseling services outreach available to those in need. I was able to visit an area in São Paulo where many drug users live. Many NGO's are surrounded around these areas as this is where the greatest needs for their resources is. I was also able to meet a  nurse who has worked specifically in this community for 16 years. He spoke about how difficult this job is; yet he described it has his calling to help others and he has no plans of ever finding a different job.

I was also able to meet another community health agent that works in a immigrant community. He, himself is from Bolivia and within the community there are people from all around the world. He strives to unite his community and as a former professional soccer player he chooses to do so through weekly soccer games. It was absolutely amazing to hear all of the great work he does both through the medical prevention and outreach to the true community he strives to maintain. I am continuously so inspired by all of the wonderful narratives of the incredible people I have met throughout this trip. I am truly inspired by their efforts to make such positive change in the world even with the little resources they might have. 

Now that the end of the semester is vastly approaching I have spent much time finishing up many papers and presentations which has allowed for some very long days with lots of work. In between all of the work there has been time for some fun too. Last weekend my group had the opportunity to celebrate the birthday of one of people on my trip! :)

brithday em picture 

I was also able to go to a soccer game last weekend which was AMAZING! The game ended in a tie but it was absolutely incredible to see such a high level of skill right before eyes. It was so cool to see how much support and livelihood the game of soccer can bring to a crowd and the greater community around the stadium. Soccer truly brings people together and it was so amazing to see this unfold. 

soccer pictures 

Throughout my time here I have been able to spend some time touring the different parts of the city which has been very exciting as well. Brazil specifically São Paulo s known for their bakeries and delicious treats. Brigadeiros are by far my favorite dessert here; they are so good! 


street music at market yestersdya! 

I was also able to visit Liberdade which is known as JapanTown it was such a great place with so many little markets surrounding the streets. The area was surrounded by wonderful architecture and was beautiful to visit. 

pictures from the market

Finally I was able to go to São Paulo, Pride Parade last Sunday. This parade is one of the largest in the world as approximately 4 million people attend each year. It was so amazing to see the incredible support people were able to give to one another. There were also many services present that gave information on services targeted towards the LGBT and gay/lesbian communities. I had a blast! :) 

It is so hard to believe that this my 16th week of traveling the world. The time has just flown by; from planes, trains, layovers, hostels to everything in between; my group has been through it all. This program has changed my perspective on the world. This program has opened my eyes to many parts of the world that are never exposed. I am continuously reaffirming my future plan to go into a career in public health. I strive to impact communities in ways that alll of the incredible health agents have been able to. I have exposed to so many disparities that are very shocking both in the US and abroad and I want to make change. My experiences I have had will never be forgettoen. I have made memories and friendships on this trip  that will last a lifetime.


"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the worl. For, indeed, that's all who ever have. -Margaret Mead 

I am so grateful for all of the incredible support I have recieved throughout my time here. I could not be here without everyones support. I am so thankful for my family and friends that really have continsouly inspired me to step out of my comfort zone to purse a study abroad I would have never imagined going on before. I strive to make positive change in the world and this program has been one of the most inspiring four months of my life. 

Happy Mother's Day shoutout to a mother that goes always way and beyond in all that you do. I cannot wait to see you in a week! xoxo  

Hillary! :) xoxox 

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer sprit of hope and achviement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." -Woodrow Wilson 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Greetings from Brazil!! :)

Hello! :) Hard to believe this is the last country for my program. I will be back to the Untied States, May 18th. 

I arrived to São Paulo, Brazil April, 15th. For the first few days my group stayed in a conference center where many retreats are held. It was really nice to have a few days to adjust to the 5 hour time difference and catch up on sleep from our 6m departure from Cape Town, South Africa. I am now only a one hour time difference from US eastern time which has been so nice!!:) 

The primary language here in Brazil is Portuguese so managing the language barrier has definitely been difficult at times although thankfully spanish is commonly spoken by many so I can at least get by on most occasions! :)

São Paulo is the third largest city in the world so it definitely has been an adjustment attempting to understand the transportation system in such a big city with so many people everywhere. Brazil is also the host of this years World Cup so as time passes more and more people will soon start to come. 

During our time in the retreat center we were able to explore some parts of the city of São Paulo. Our group went on a hike in one of the largest urban forests in the world one day which was amazing to see.

We also were able to go to the Afro-Brazil museum which was one of the best museums I have ever seen. All of the exhibits were so detailed and informative.

After a few days of adjustment our group was off to our rural visit in, Parra du Torvo,  the southern most part of the Sao Paulo state, 6 hours away from the city. This part of Brazil is the country side and was absolutely gorgeous. When we arrived to our destination we took a boat across a river to get to the place where the family we were staying with lived. Fun Fact: although my program did not allow for us to zip line, instead of using the pulley boat system to get across many of the family members would take the zip line that they had created to get back and forth. I definitely was very jealous.


After arriving I quickly was able to come to terms with how amazing the area was. We went to amazing waterfalls right after arriving! :)  I was definitely surrounded with nature and it was so nice to get away from the city. The purpose of our trip was to learn about the rural life through learning the narratives of the people we met along the way.  I quickly learned how amazing and inspiring Pedro, Maria and the rest of their family are through their continued selflessness during our stay in their house. Agro-foresting is a type of agriculture that looks to grow both fruits and vegetables that will be able to both sustain lower income families and allow excess for sell. The Brazilian government partners with the five Agro-foresting farms and provides incentives and money for the goods that are produced. This type of farming is moving away from mono-culture farming as this type is very detrimental to the land in the long run and was the original mode of agriculture before agro-foresting was discovered and implemented. 

Pedro was part of the first efforts to integrate this into both his family and his community. His intelligence in regards to farming and each individual plant, vegetable, and fruit he was growing is admirable. He is so knowledgable and really lives a life to ensure the environment is protected. Pedro described humans and nature as one in the same. Pedro emphasized the fact that many times people view their role as above that of nature when in reality everyone and everything should be treated equal. The three days I spent on the island with definitely be experiences that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. The compassion, care and love this family showed to all 35 of our group members was just amazing! 


The last few days of our rural visit we stayed in the city near by in a hotel. We visited the Qulimbo community which is a community where in the time of slavery in Brazil, many slaves escaped to this are many years ago. The community presently is made of slave descendants and our group was fortunate to hear their struggles and fight to keep the rights to their land.

After a week of moving around quite a bit I am now moved and settled into my home-stay where I will be for the last few weeks I am here.  My home stay family has been so wonderful and I have only been here a few days. I am looking forward to learning more Portuguese, exploring the city and of course valuing all of the time I am able to spend with my host family! :) 

During my rural visit I heard very unfortunate news about my grandmother unfortunately falling and breaking her leg . :( I am so happy to say that the surgery went well and I am hoping all will continue to go well in her recovery. It definitely is not easy being so far away when something such as this happens but I am continuously so grateful for all of the support and constant contact I have been able to have with my family. I am wishing her a speedy recovery and I look forward to seeing her in a few weeks! :)

I hope all is well with everyone! :) Thank again to everyone for your continued support! 

Hillary xoxo 

"I may not have money but I have all of the riches in the world, just look around me" -Pedro ( in reference to his extreme value and connection with nature) 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Last few days in South Africa! :(

Hello!!:):) Greetings from South Africa!!! I hope all  is well with everyone! I officially started spring break this past Tuesday morning and it has been so nice to be free of class work and assignments these past few days. I am definitely sad to leave my wonderful family in the Bo Kapp as I learned so much from them and really enjoyed the bonds I was able to form with with my host sister and mother!!:):)

My host mother and sister! :)

I started my spring break off by going to Kruger for a two day safari!! It was absolutely AMAZING!!:) the group of seven girls who decided to do this for our spring break had so much fun but slept very little. We arrived to the Kruger National Reserve at 2:30am on Tuesday morning after a flight and a three hour bus to get there.  We soon were told that our tour begins at 4:30am to ensure we are the first to the gates when the park opens. So after two hours of sleep we were up and ready for the days adventures!!

We started with a tour through the game park on the search for any animals with our amazing guide Dave. We saw so many different animals; it was amazing to see these animals all in their natural habitat! 

Safari!! :)

The next day we woke up again at 430 and started off again on our journey to find as many animals as possible!:)

Safari-Day two! :)

 We continued the rest of the day with stopping at the natural gorges and the third biggest canyon in the world!! Absolutely breathtaking views!!:)

After the safari we continued on our way back to Cape Town through a bus and another flight home. I am staying in an apartment for the next few days right in the central part of the city of Cape Town. The views from my bedroom window are amazing!!

View from our apartment

Today I was able to go on a wine tour. Wine is a big part of the culture here in South Africa so wine tasting is very popular!!:) I went to six vineyards all of different sizes. It was such gorgeous day too!:))

For the next two days I plan to just relax and lay by the pool in our complex!:) My group leaves Tuesday morning for San Paulo, Brazil which is where I will spend my finals four weeks of my semester! I have had so many amazing wonderful experiences here in South Africa! My academic program has been extremely busy but was very well run here making everything all the more fun! My two home-stay experiences were so wonderful, and really have begun to help me shape the public health career I am striving for in graduate school. I definitely have felt so welcomed here in Cape Town! I will really miss all of my daily encounters with all of the people I have met throughout all of my experiences here!

I hope all is well with everyone! Thinking of you all! Thank you again to everyone for all of your continued support; it really means a lot to me! 

Hillary xoxoox 

"There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."-Nelson Mandela