By Alina Yaccino, High School Abroad Participant in Brazil and Greenheart Travel Club member
During her exchange program in Brazil, Alina Yaccino chose to spend her spare time volunteering as as part of the Greenheart Travel Club. Alina was able to log over 200 hours for the club! Learn more about her volunteer experience in her reflection below.
My experience as a volunteer for casa da videira in Curitiba, Brazil exceeded all the expectations I had regarding the project. I’ve known the project builders through my dad for several years now, and have always wanted to go and spend some time at their urban farm and learn from what they did. Going into this learning exchange filled me with all kinds of emotions, I was excited, but nervous and afraid to be overwhelmed by the work load I signed myself up to do for the whole month of January.
The first week, I got used to the routine of a farmer, woke up early, went to bed early, worked all the hours in between…whether I fed the animals, or the staff and myself, I was always in good company, through nature and friends. I learned that the best way to make friends is working together. I also understood why they call a “farm” Fazenda in Portuguese, it comes from the verb fazer which means “to do” and when we would notice how caught up we were with work we would say “Por isso e que chama-se fazenda, sempre tem algo que fazer” (That’s why we call it a Fazenda, there is always something “to do”).
By the end of the month, there was no greater satisfaction for me than to realize that my work and effort contributed to such a small project that has such a big impact in the community and the environment. Through good conversations and sit down lunch times with incredible home-made/grown foods I shared and learned with these people whom I now consider the greatest influence in my life.
I met so many people and made so many connections that will serve me for the next steps in life that I want to take, through this experience, several doors opened for me and I am very excited to see which door I will walk through now.