Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Depois do primeiro dia de trabalho
Oí! Well, June arrived and I am finally here in Rio de Janeiro! It's only been a couple days but it already feels like home- thanks to Maria Luisa and Carolina (our host mother and daughter), as well as Professora Leslie and everyone at Terrazul. There is so much to elaborate on I don't even know where to begin! I feel as if I've been thrown into an episode of the Real World: we have this beautiful apartment blocks from Ipanema, an up-and-coming job, and the city of Rio to explore- but no worries mom and dad, there will be no Real World style antics coming from me... most likely.
Having always been a far cry from what one would call an environmentalist (as in shamefully unaware of anything "green"), I didn't know quite what to expect upon arriving to the headquarters of Instituto Terrazul. Actually, headquarters might be too strong of a word. The office is a tiny little house on the island of Gigoia (pictured above), a bohemian locale of 1000 inhabitants. It's just a 30 second boat right from Barra de Tijuca, a neighborhood outside of Rio de Janeiro nicknamed "Little Miami." As one can imagine, the commute is complicated. Barra de Tijuca is a beachfront community complete with luxury condos and shopping. Cariocas (native Rio de Janeiro-ans) generally don't seem to be ostentatious, but this neighborhood holds some of the exceptions. Anyhow, the fact that Terrazul's offices are so homey is slightly deceptive. Priscylla, who helps run the organization, gave Gaurav and me a two-hour overview of what Terrazul does as an organization. I can say without a doubt that there will be no lack of things to do for the next two months.
NGO's (or ONG's in Portuguese) face unique challenges down here, as much of the funding has to be private. The municipal governments that have the most power in the area tend to be disorganized and cover a large scope. While the idea of corporate responsibility is just getting off it's feet here, Terrazul has been recieving most of its money from Petrobras, an enormous part public/part private oil company. Terrazul serves as a community education center for high-schoolers around the area, as well as an NGO looking to protect a Floresta de Tijuca- the largest urban rainforest in the world, whose ecosystem has enormous effects on the entire city of Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro still is missing many services that people in the US consider ordinary fixtures, such as an effective recycling system. While on the one hand this is alarming given the fast rate at which the city has grown and continues to grow, it is also exciting. Rio feels like a city on the brink of greatness, full of potential and business opportunities that are literally waiting to be seized.
Today, following orientation, Guarav and I got to see the actual forest. It is absolutely amazing to travel from the beach, to urban areas, and then to a deserted rainforest all within the span of ten minutes- this has to be one of the most beautiful places to live in the world. Once we got to the forest we were abled to watch the highschool students (pictured above) make videos to promote Terrazuls projects. I am constantly struck by how friendly and welcoming Cariocas are. I spent most of the afternoon being taught slang (gíria) by the students- foi legal (it was awesome)!
More to come on the city, my host fam, and day-to-day life. Way too much to fit into one post!