Giving Back to Conselherio Pena


Maria Francisco

Winter break has come to an end and many of us are coming back from traveling, wishing that we could’ve stayed longer. I personally have just come back from a trip in Brazil that I wish never ended. Before this winter break, the last time I visited Brazil was 3 years ago during summer entering my freshman year, now i’m a senior. It was my first time traveling to Brazil during their summer but our winter, and even though the temperature was kind of similar due to all the rain they are experiencing this season, it was so much greener and every tree was full of fruit. 

My parents were born and raised in Brazil so I have a lot of family there, some family that I first met this trip. Before traveling to Brazil though, I was kind of nervous. After not being in Brazil for so long and over the years having declined the amount of Portuguese spoken at home, my Portuguese was not that good at all. As soon as I reached my family’s little town, Conselheiro Pena in Minas Gerais, I realized there was nothing to worry about. Everyone there was so comforting and even though my Portuguese wasn’t that good people put in effort and were engaged and interested in having a conversation with me. They even helped me correct and learn from my speaking mistakes. That’s something I truly love about Brazil. Everyone is accepting of each other no matter their differences. 

In Brazil, it is typical to see friend groups and conversations between a mix of children, teenagers, adults, and elderly people. People of different ages have great communication skills allowing them to have conversations with each other. In the United States I’ve realized that there tends to be a lot of children, teens, and adults that fear of communicating to younger or older ages due to their differences or maturity. A lot of people in the United States even experience difficulty disconnecting themselves from technology and going out, unlike Brazil where you see everyone outside walking, sitting down talking, listening to music, and playing sports out on the streets. 

Being there on Christmas Eve I experienced something new and eye opening. Before the holidays I helped my cousin and her friends raise donations to buy necessities and gifts for families who need them. On Christmas Eve we woke up early and bought a ton of groceries like rice, milk, beans and some more luxurious items like cookies, chocolate powder, and a frozen chicken. We also bought shoes and toys for kids such as soccer balls, dolls, Spiderman action figures, and slime. We organized all these things, packed them up into a couple of trucks, and headed to the homes of families who needed some extra help to brighten up their Christmas. We met several amazing families who were so grateful. Like the family with 7 children, where each child was so excited to share their toys among their siblings, the elderly couple who repeatedly blessed us, the single mom of 2 boys who cried of joy receiving food and seeing her oldest so happy with his new toy, the group of kids that were excited to play and share the one ball between each other. A community coming together to spread more joy throughout the holiday season was truly amazing to see and experience.

This was a special holiday season for me that I’ll never forget. This experience led me to a new perspective on my surroundings and my second home, Brazil. It is beautiful to see how people can be positive and make the most out of what they have rather than think negatively of what they don’t have. It’s a lesson for everyone to always appreciate what they have and earn. I can’t wait until i’m back in Brazil making more amazing memories and hopefully helping improve my parents’ small hometown.