Kendra Washington

Brazil

Hometown: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
School: Nova
Sponsor District: 6990
Sponsor Club: Ft. Lauderdale
Host District: 4530
Host Club: Ceres-Rialma

 

My Bio


Oi Galera! My name is Kendra Washington and I’m currently a senior at Nova High School. I live with my Jamaican born Mom who was raised in England, American Dad with roots in northern Florida, and younger sister in a house shaded by black olives just outside of Ft. Lauderdale. I’ve lived in that house all my life. This year, my most difficult courses are AP Biology and AP Microeconomics, but I enjoy the challenges that they bring. When I’m not doing homework or studying for the next test, I like to volunteer in my Key Club. We serve Feeding South Florida, Horses and Handicapped, and fundraise for ELIMINATE (an initiative to stop Maternal/Neo-natal tetanus). Additionally, I like playing the violin. There’s so many genres and the resonating sound is relaxing. I’ve been playing for seven years, and in the Florida Youth Orchestra for six. I also like to read suspense and historical fiction novels, watch action movies and go shopping with my family and friends. I live in South Florida where my community and school are very diverse. This setting has made me culturally aware and more open to new things. For example, I'm learning Bollywood and Bhangra dances for the South Asian Society at my school. Though it's difficult, I do it because I enjoy it. Living in a multicultural community has made me more eager to travel and learn more languages. I’ve been hoping to take a gap year to participate in a study abroad program since middle school. I’m really excited for my year in Brazil. I’m extremely grateful to the Rotary Club of Ft. Lauderdale for sponsoring me and District 6990 for selecting me for this unbelievable opportunity. Thank you in advance to my future host family, club and teachers. See you soon!


This is the photo of the narrow path to the cave.

This is the photo of the narrow path to the cave.

These are the dessert tables. Don't they look magnificent? I was told the cake wasn't really though…

These are the dessert tables. Don't they look magnificent? I was told the cake wasn't really though…

My view of the live band from the back of the room.

My view of the live band from the back of the room.

Me and my host mom in front of one of the waterfalls

Me and my host mom in front of one of the waterfalls

Me after I watched my first real life surgery.

Me after I watched my first real life surgery.

Water Slides

Water Slides

Me with my host mom and host sister leaving the wedding. I'm wearing the Havaianas flip flops that were given out during the party. This is a recent tradition in Brazilian weddings.

Me with my host mom and host sister leaving the wedding. I'm wearing the Havaianas flip flops that were given out during the party. This is a recent tradition in Brazilian weddings.

Visiting Michelle Obama at the "American Embassy" at the Embassy Fair

Visiting Michelle Obama at the "American Embassy" at the Embassy Fair

A delicious parting gift

A delicious parting gift

First McDonald's in Brasilia

First McDonald's in Brasilia

Ceres Music Festival

Ceres Music Festival

Map of the International Embassy Fair

Map of the International Embassy Fair

Mashed Potatoes and Stuffed Tomatoes

Mashed Potatoes and Stuffed Tomatoes

Science Fair, 'Lar Sustantavel Lar'

Science Fair, 'Lar Sustantavel Lar'

From left to right is my first host mom, my second host sister, me, and my first host dad. This is from the day that I moved into the second host family

From left to right is my first host mom, my second host sister, me, and my first host dad. This is from the day that I moved into the second host family

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Candelária

Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Candelária

Christ the Redeemer!

Christ the Redeemer!

Having fun with friends at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain

Having fun with friends at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain

View of Rio de Janeiro from Dona Marta Favela

View of Rio de Janeiro from Dona Marta Favela

Posing with guard at the Fort of Copacabana

Posing with guard at the Fort of Copacabana

Artwork dedicated to Michael Jackson in the Santa Marta Favela where he filmed “They Don’t Care About Us”

Artwork dedicated to Michael Jackson in the Santa Marta Favela where he filmed “They Don’t Care About Us”

One of the five figures of the largest mural in the world, painted by Eduardo Kobra in anticipation of the 2016 Rio Olympics

One of the five figures of the largest mural in the world, painted by Eduardo Kobra in anticipation of the 2016 Rio Olympics

Representing America at the Escadaria Selarón

Representing America at the Escadaria Selarón

Journals: Kendra – Brazil 2016-17

  • Kendra, outbound to Brazil

    Read more about Kendra and all her blogs

    Day by day, my Portuguese is improving, and conjugations are coming more rapidly to mind as I'm speaking. However, one thing that depresses me is when I say complete sentences to someone in Portuguese that sounds just about right to me, only to find that they had no idea of what I said at all. When I repeat and slow it down, and the person reiterates what I said correctly, I usually find that I'd placed emphasis on the wrong syllable or constructed a phrase in a weird way. This gets me down, and I start to feel like I haven't made any progress at all.

    On the other hand, I'm definitely starting to think in Portuguese. I probably started thinking in Portuguese even earlier, but I did't notice it. I only started to notice when I was on my Rio de Janeiro trip with all the other exchange students. All the exchange students there had varying levels of English and Portuguese so I used both to communicate. Sometimes I got confused and started using both languages in one sentence. At times when I was speaking in English about something in Brazil, especially if the words were in Portuguese, I finished the rest of my comment in Portuguese. it's a strangely wonderful feeling to be able to think in two languages. It's like having fudge stuck in your teeth. It's deliciously uncomfortable.

    The highlight of Month 6 was my trip to Rio de Janeiro. Rio is truly a phenomenal city. My ONLY regret is that the trip was too short. I learned quite a few interesting things about Rio during my trip. For example, on a tour at the Fort of Copacabana I learned about the Revolt of the Eighteen. (Afterwards, I researched a bit more to make sure I understood the guide correctly. ) Apparently, on the 5th of July in 1922, young officers within the military, tired of the oligarhcy's monopoly of power and its corrupt electoral practices, tried to remove the oligarchy. However, since the government found out about these plans, only the Fort and a military school were able to rebel. It was bombed all day, and the majority of the soldiers surrendered 301 soldiers surrendered . A brave group of 29 marched on the Catete Palace, the seat of power at the time, carrying pieces of a Brazilian flag with them. On the way, a portion of these soldiers gave up, so only 17 were left. Later joined by a civilian, they began a deadly march to the Palace. Only two survived. They didn't accomplish their goals of reforming th e electoral system and protecting democracy, but their resistance inspired future movements against the corruption of the Old Republic

    The following are pictures of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Canelária, or the Candelária Church, whose origin is a bit of a legend. In the early 17th century, a Spanish couple suffering in a terrible storm swore that they would make a church in the name of Our Lady of Candelária if their ship made it to shore safely.

    On the third day of our trip, we visited Dona Marta Favela. It is a pacified favela that does tours to support the residents. Pacification is a part of a government effort to eliminate drug dealing, violence, and organized crime from the favelas. Of this effort, Dona Marta was the first to be pacified.

    Shortly after arriving, and being advised to buy some large water bottles, we were lead to the base of the favela. Before really starting into the climb, I spotted an elderly resident who had calves of steel. I had never seen calves so developed on a woman that age before. I soon found out why. There were so many stairs (788 steps )! I definitely hit my exercise goals for the next few months....😧 (There is a tram, but it is frequently out of order). It was probably a better experience to climb anyway. I got more of a view of what a favela actually looked like. The residences were small, but tidy. There was a distinct smell from the pieces of trash and waste that dotted our path. Children and adults gathered in the stoops of the houses. At the top we saw a spot where children were playing under the sprinkle of a water spout, as well as a enclosed futsal (soccer on concrete) field.

    This is the same favela where Michael Jackson filmed "They Don't Care About Us". He collaborated with Olodum, the two-hundred member Afro-Brazilian drum band from Salvador in the making of the music video. Originally, officials tried to ban the filming. They were resistant to showing an unfavorable view Rio de Janeiro because they were hoping to host the 2004 Olympics. However, that ban was overturned by a judge and the music video was made. Not only does the song talk about social justice and criticizes apathetic government, but it also has a really catchy beat as well.

    And with that, more than half of my exchange is over.

  • Kendra, outbound to Brazil

    Read more about Kendra and all her blogs

    This post, I want to start of with the lows and make my way up to the highs.

    Month 3 was definitely a struggle emotionally, but enduring it brought clarity to my frustration: I discovered that I sincerely hate being ignored.

    Around the end of Month 2 and 3 , your ‘newness’ as an exchange student wears off a bit. In my situation, I felt that fewer people were willing to struggle through a conversation hindered by my limited Portuguese with me. At school, I found myself on the periphery of conversations, often not participating at all. I felt overwhelmed by all the unfamiliar topics and words. These moments were boring. I felt boring. I was annoyed by the fact that I could hardly make any decent comments. All I could do was ask what ‘this’ or ‘that’ was. I was also afraid people would find me annoying, so I refrained from asking at times. I tried to concentrate more on listening, and understanding the gist of the conversation, responding if someone happened to ask me a direct question.

    Even at home, people were content to full-out conversations while I remained in silence. Almost as a defense mechanism, I had my phone on me at all times just in case I had to suffer through these long periods of silence. I understand that people have lives and matters to attend to outside of conversing with the exchange student , and I wouldn’t be described as a needy person, but I needed more attention than I was receiving in month 3. I realize now that a bit later into my exchange that I could have made it easier on myself by talking to my host parents. But since I’m in the habit of handling things myself, I worked even harder on my language abilities: studying, reading, watching everything dubbed in Portuguese with subtitles.

    Another low was my violin performance at the music festival at a local public school in Ceres. The event itself was beautiful. There were student singers, student dancers, a flag ceremony, and even children performing a song in Brazilian Sign Language. I played Gavotte by F. J. Gossec, a song I played ages and ages ago, with a fellow classmate. I hadn’t memorized the piece so I had to put the music on a stand, which seemed to take ages to set up. As we were starting the second page, the wind blew it off the stand. I stopped playing and froze, like a deer in headlights, while another student began chasing the page as it attempted to make its escape. It was quite comical really. Thank the Lord for my partner who had memorized the piece and kept playing, albeit a bit flat. It was pretty embarrassing , and I was frustrated that I hadn’t tried to memorize it. I resolved to try to memorize more pieces in the future.

    Moving away from the lows, I also participated in a school science fair. Our group developed a model of a sustainable house. In my life, it was the biggest model that I had ever participated in making. After the experience, I am definitely more interested in making my future home a greener place to live.

    I've also made mashed potatoes for my host family. It was the first thing that I actually made for them. I would’ve gone for pancakes, but they said they already make them so I wanted to go for something different. Brazil actually has a dish quite similar to mashed potatoes (purê de batatas), but the key difference between the way my host family prepares that dish and my mashed potatoes was that I added cheddar cheese (in this case, requeijão (a type of light cream cheese) because that’s what they had at the store). My host mom said that my mashed potatoes was tastier. 😉

    I also had to switch houses. 2 months and 2 weeks into my exchange, I switched to my second host family. They are family friends of my first host family. My first host mom and my second host grandma thought it would be a good idea for me to go a bit early so I could get to know Sofia, my second host sister a bit more. Sofia, at the end of January is going to study in Goiânia, the capital city three hours away. She wants to be more thoroughly prepared to take the ENEM , the crucial public college entrance test. This family was originally supposed to be my third host family, but because of the circumstances, it became my second.

    My first host family commemorated my departure with a bowl of açai topped with condensed milk, leite em pó (powdered milk), and granola on the side. Also, my second family happened to be going out for sushi the day I arrived. All of was absolutely delicious. Did it sit well in my stomach? That doesn’t matter… :p

    Now I live with a host grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, sister, and brother. Since there are more teenagers here, in general , I feel like I get more attention. Even my first host mom said that its better for me to be around more young people. Additionally, I live in the middle of Ceres. I can walk to school as well as the other shops in the area. I enjoy the freedom of being able to just go somewhere to get something when I want it instead of waiting on other people to get it for me. I sincerely appreciate everything my first host family did for me, but this second house is more convenient. Especially since I’m next door neighbors with my music teacher. I find myself over there more often since going is simply effortless.

    I’ll finish of this rather long post with writing a bit about my visit to Brasilia. I went with my host mom, sister, brother, and my brother’s daughter to visit. The purpose was to find alternative to the dress that my host sister had purchased for her Quinze (the equivalent of a sweet sixteen) if the alterations weren’t finished on time. We stayed with the brother of my host dad who lives there with his family. We didn’t find a suitable dress, but we had fun shopping at the mall where I ate my first McDonald’s in Brazil, dining at restaurants, and visiting the 12ª Feira Internacional Das Embaixadas (12th Internatinal Embassy Fair). At the Embassy Fair there were a multitude of stalls for each country offering goods, foods, and travel information.

  • Kendra, outbound to Brazil

    Read more about Kendra and all her blogs

    Oi Gente! This entry is for my second month in Brazil, and I know it´s quite late, but I want to start this Post off with something exciting!

    On the 9th of October, I was lucky enough to see my first real life surgery. My host father is an obstetrician. After lunch, he asked me if I would like to come and watch a Cesarean-section birth. I said “Yes.” without hesitation. After about ten minutes, we were on our way. I was excited, but I was also really nervous. I really hoped I wouldn’t faint and embarrass myself at the sight of blood. I’ve never been squeamish at the sight of blood, but I feel like observing a surgery is on a whole other level. 

    When we arrived at the hospital, we changed into scrubs and Crocs, and entered the operating room where the patient and other doctors were waiting. I don’t know how much I should share of the actual process itself, but I will say it was an amazing experience witnessing the birth of this New Person, a healthy baby girl. I’m not a doctor, but I will also say that my host Dad did a really masterful job of stitching up the patient. If I didn’t see it stitched up myself, down to the last layer of skin,I would have thought everything was glued together.The stitching was so neat.

    All in all, witnessing this birth was a really exciting and interesting experience!

    I’ve also attended another wedding. This time there was food and dancing after the main ceremony. During the main ceremony, a group from my music teacher’s school played at the wedding: the traditional wedding song as the bride entered and even the Game of Thrones theme song as the important guests entered. The music was played very well.
    This wedding also had a live band separate from my teacher. They played English and Brazilian songs. Everyone was dancing and when we left it was almost one.
    Last Thursday I went to Salto Corumbá, which boasts several Cachoeiras ( waterfalls), with my host mom and her friends from the Espírito Center. I absolutely loved it. I adore spending time in nature. The waterfalls were gorgeous. But to get the them was a bit of a hike up Rocky trails. It felt incredible to swim in the refreshingly cold water afterwards.
    One of them had a little cave that you could only access by trying to squeeze through several rock walls or swimming around. My host mom said I should try to pass through the walls. It was kind of freaky because I couldn't see much of anything, but the view inside the cave of the waterfall was worth it. Many people had passed through there before and had signed their names on the wall.

    I don't have a picture from inside because I didn't bring my phone with me. 😣
    Now about my progress in general here, I think I’m doing a good job. My Portuguese is coming along, slowly but surely, and I feel I’ve mostly adjusted to my new life here. Admittedly, things emotionally are getting a bit harder. My host mom reminded me that month 2 is one of the most difficult months because that’s when everything stops being quite so new and exciting. Instead, it’s just your normal daily schedule. In those times, especially for me, there is more room in your mind to think of home and the people you miss. During those times, I try to do a little exercise and make myself stay in the company of others, even though my first instinct is to be by myself.

    Also, making deep friendships with the other Brazilian students is a bit more tricky than I thought. I have a group of friends that I usually hang out with, but sometimes I feel we all get tired of me having to ask what every little thing in a conversation means. I’m going to keep trying because I honestly enjoy their company when I understand what’s going on, I want to have friends from my host country, and there’s no other inbounds close to where I live. I keep reminding myself to be patient and that this is just one of the hard parts of the process. Learning the language of your host country is important in all aspects.

    That’s all I have to share from Month 2!

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