Kimberley Moore went on a GDCP in Recife, Brazil. For three months, she worked with Lar Fabiano De Cristo, a nation-wide NGO in Brazil which provides community maternal care, childcare, meals, programming and classes in disadvantaged areas throughout Brazil.
With Lar Fabiano De Cristo, Kimberley helped to create and conduct college/university prep seminars on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to young people in the community. She also helped teach basic English language skills to children.
What was an average day like during your GDCP?
My average work day involved waking up at 6 am to catch a 6:30 bus for work. My work placement was on the other side of the city, which meant I had to take public transit (bus) for about an hour and a half. The buses were always beyond crowded and Recife traffic was insane but the people were so gracious. It is customary to offer to hold people’s bags if they are standing and you have a seat so things like that made hard transport days a lot easier. I got to work and taught seminars on the millennium development goals from about 8 to 5 with an hour lunch break. My workplace provided food, and lunchtime was one of the best opportunities to bond with both the kids and fellow staff (plus continue to practice my Portuguese). Most of my students were teenagers but many of the younger kids in the centre sat in on classes just to interact with us and get a taste of something new and different. After work I would usually be beyond drained but took time to meet with local university students and other interns for fun.
On days off when I was not completely drained from work, I would walk to the beach and meet up with friends or visit different parts of the city. There was always somewhere to go at night whether it was free live music, dancing, parties, clubs or bar hopping (which was fun even though I do not drink). On weekends I would venture out to different parts of Brazil or spend time with my amazing host family. Toward the end I tried to spend as much time out as possible which often meant coming home from work at about 7pm, eating, having a quick nap, then leaving at 12 am for a party and staying out until sunrise.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in Recife?
There were many challenges, each different but all were learning experiences. Of course being away from home was hard at first but I ended up bonding so much more with my host family and friends because of it.
Having to work and “play” with people who were ignorant about my culture was also pretty stressful. Sometimes were would be out having a good time and I would hear some of the most ignorant hurtful things about my people/culture from people who called themselves my friends.
The hardest day was the day I went out to work in the middle of a flood that shut the city down. I ended up stranded, wading across flooded streets (up to my waist in black water) swimming with bugs (gross), and I had to find my way back home from across town without buses or taxis. I did it!
What was the most enjoyable part of your experience?
The most enjoyable part was getting to know new people and developing a whole new family all of whom were instrumental in forcing me to step out of my comfort zone. The moments when they challenged and pushed me often ended up being my most treasured. One of these moments ended up being my fondest of the exchange. One night I was very tired after work and I really did not want to go out but the whole team was going to a club (I usually hate clubbing). I did not want to go but I did, and I got there by myself at about 1am. I literally danced until dawn with friends and complete strangers. After, we walked to the beach to watch the sunrise and ended up swimming fully clothed (club makeup and all) in shark-infested waters. It was literally the most free and beautiful moment of my life. Afterwards, I walked home dripping wet shamelessly, without a care in the world.
What did you gain from your GDCP experience and how has it influenced your everyday life?
I think two biggest things I took away were my appreciation for human kindness and the importance of challenging yourself. When I first got there I was terrified and lonely but I never shed a tear. The first time I cried was my last day in Brazil, in the airport when I had to say goodbye to my host family. I grew to love them so much and I their kindness literally brought me to tears. The spirit of my students and friends (I keep in touch with both groups) also inspired me. The students were always eager to learn as much as they could from us and sometimes gestures as small as a dance, hug or smile made them so happy and grateful. When times were more challenging, I really had to push myself.
Looking back, I am so much stronger, and braver after knowing that I was able to overcome everything I went through. Now, I find ways to see the good in people no matter what because I know how powerful love can be. I never limit myself or fall back when something or someone challenges me because I know what I am capable of accomplishing.
Do you have any advice for people who are considering to take part in an exchange with AIESEC?
I would tell people to just dive in. Yes, there will be challenges and you will miss home. You will definitely have moments of complete doubt. But immerse yourself in the culture, work, and people you have around you. This is how you get the most out of your exchange. Try to live in the moment. Remember this is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity and you owe it to yourself to grow as much as you possibly can. Remember there is a whole world full of amazing people with stunningly beautiful spirits and each has a story. This is your chance to get out there and start getting to know the world you live in!