Friday, April 29, 2011

I got my volunteer placement!

Centro De Educacao Infantil Santa Teresa De LisieuX-Saint Therese of Lisiseuc Eduation Center (That's a mouthful!)

So the official name of my placement is above, in other words, I will be at a community educational organization teaching children, assisting teachers and teaching English.

The center was founded in May 1980 and gives attendtion to children and their families by providing Education, Social Assistance and Spirituality in a holistic view. Upper-middles class ladies and couple from Salvador supply the funds to help this organization run. There are a total of 85 children and 5 teachers.

My activities will include:
  • Assist teachers by caring for the children and organizing learning activities
  • Play games with children
  • Assist the staff with educational programming, including teaching, entertaining activities and creating new ways for children to learn
  • Organize and develop learning activities for the students according to what is being given in class
  • Provide individual attention to the children
  • Teach basic for kids
  • Organize and develop arts and crafts projects

I could not be more excited. The challenging part of the placement is that the 3 head organizers of the center on a scale of 1-5 in English proficiency are a 1 and 2. And my Brazil-Portuguese proficiency is probably lower than that. While we may not speak out loud the same language, I'm sure there will be multiple ways in which we will be able to translate to one another.

Next steps:
I think I'm going to go to a local Half Price Books and see what I can find. Children's stories, flashcards etc. that will help teach ABCs, numbers, family, body parts, food, animals, greetings, etc. If you have any great ideas, let me know! I'm all ears.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brazil Home Base Pics!

I got some pictures of where I will be staying in Brazil! We will be in an area called "Graza" which would compare to a middle class area in America. Our placement areas are in a different part of Salvador.
Brazil Home Base.jpg
This is the outside of home base!
Brazil Beds.jpg
One of the bedrooms. The whole "compound" sleeps 40!!!
Brazil Patio.jpg
This is the patio area..

When not doing my volunteer work I plan on being outside at all times experincing Brazil! The house is for sleeping in my opinion! =-)

Home base team.jpg
Myhomebase team! Can't wait to meet them!

210 Languages....The People of Brazil!

(2nd post from my Lilly Blog)

Oi! (Hello!)

So I have been trying to find just the right book/books to read prior to my trip. The crazy thing with getting this opportunity is that I was offered a new role within the company the same week I found I was selected for Connecting Hearts Abroad. To say the least, things have been crazy in my world, but I am SO BLESSED and glad that God felt I could serve in this way!

After spending time at Barnes and Noble I found A book (yes, just one!). I thought for sure they would have a lot more, but no. Anyhow the book I ended up getting is quit good and I like the way they organized it. It discusses a lot of the cultural/history/religion and then in the back it divides into sections based on major cities and lists various sites to see.

You, luckily, are going to get to learn all about Brazil with me! I feel like if I discuss my learnings on my blog I will learn that much more! (I guess I'm selfishly sharing this with you all!) 

Let's get down to it because I keep wanting to read ahead in my book!


I thought that was AMERICA! I was wrong!  The Brazilian colonial society was composed of only men that came over from Portugal. Unlike the Puritans of New England who were actually outcasts of their home country, the Portuguese men liked coming to Brazil. For decades is was strictly men who came over and while they were still loyal to their home country they eventually found a new home in Brazil. So why you might ask the "World's Most Heterogeneous Population?"

It started with the mix of the Portuguese men and the "local" females. These people were the first "Brazilians" known as the Mamelucos (White men and Amerindian women). Later, the Cafusos (Amerindian and African blood) and the Mulatos (African and European). In the 1500s there were nearly 5 million Amerindians (the original people of Brazil). Today, there are only 700,000 who are living on government reservations in Mato grosso.

A larger portion of the population is referred to as "Afro-Brazilian" which was a result of  slavery from the early 1500s to the late 1800s. The slavery rebellion that took place can be described as both tragic and harrowing. While many lives were lost, by 1888 the Lei Aurea (Golden Law) was signed freeing nearly 800,000 slaves. This was the start of a new begining!


This next portion honestly made me think, "How does the compare to our home country of America?"

Shocking facts of Brazil: (From 2006 Brazilian Census Bureau)
49.9% of the total population and 88.4% of the richest 1% of Brazilians were white....
Over 1/2 of the whites in the 18-24 age bracket (51.6%) attend college vs 48% of population classified as Afro-Bazilian make up a mere 19% that attend college.

It makes you wonder what could that "richest" 1% look like if that 19% looked more like 48%. If others were given the same opportunities that I was growing up, how much different would our world look? I really don't know. Just something to ponder.

Women's roles have historically been similar to those we have seen in the U.S. The biggest difference is that by 2010 2/3 of candidates for presidency were women and on Oct 31, the first female President was elected in Brazil.

" Around 210 languages are used in Brazil, including an estimated 80 Amerindian languages, and about 130 of them are endangered because they are spoken by groups of fewer than 600.  Many are on the verg of extinction, spoken by only a handful of people, mostly elderly." Insights Guide-Brazil

***What was happening in Brazil when Lilly was founded (1876 for those of you who don't know!)?***
The closest historical date I have is 1871, this is when children born to slaves were declared free.

TCHAU for now! (Goodbye)


Preparing for Brazil!

For Brazil, I will actually be using a company blog to post my "travel journal". However, everything I post, I am going to copy and paste in my personal blog so that family and friends can follow if they choose! My first post is below:

SALVADOR BRAZIL!!! I am so excited for this adventure. Just getting the paperwork together and applying for my Visa has been quit the experience! (I finally got my visa in!)

I have been blessed with many volunteer opportunities. I have worked with Children Advocacy Centers, Local Children's Hospitals, Food Banks, Girl Scouts of America in the promotion of "real" beauty, Animal Services, Habitat for Humanity, and my most recent venture involved 60 miles in 3 days for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. My team, Pink Soles in Motion spent countless Saturdays raising funds and training; we were awarded the Top Fundraising Team totaling over $170,000. I've signed up again for 2011, but I want to continue to do great things and find new adventures! Connecting Hearts Abroad is going to be a life-changing experience. I want to serve others, make a difference, emerge myself in another culture, truly understand what it means to live in America and the difference that we as Americans can makes, to be an agent of change, and to enrich my knowledge and global perspective outside of my bubble that I call Dallas Fort Worth. I have an inherent need to help others, to serve others, and to put a smile on face that may have been missing. I hope to share my knowledge and culture with others in the hopes that they can use it to work towards their goals and dreams of life.

Here, I will be able to share my journey!

I have already begun researching Brazil and finding books to read up on the culture along with trying to learn basic phrases in Portuguese. A good friend, Jeff Lopez, was given the opportunity to teach there for a couple years and is sending me some of his reading material!

I have to be honest, I am nervous about my travels, but I am so excited to go lend a hand where I can! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A post by Baron Batch: When Ripples Collide

I had to share this...pretty good stuff. Baron Batch is/was the running back for Texas Tech. Every Wednesday he writes a column in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal...He wrote this Blog entry on March 26th, it's long, but you have to get to the end where it all comes together!

Diary 25 (when ripples collide)

Let me start by saying I’m not sure how to convey this story in words. Words don’t do it justice but I’ll try.

Have you ever watched rain fall on a lake? Each raindrop creates its own ripple. When you combine the millions of raindrops and the millions of ripples that each singularly creates, you have a countless number of overlapping ripples that all have an effect on one another. The cool thing about this is that each raindrops ripple has an effect on the other ripples in the lake, even if it’s just in a small way. This is how people operate on a daily basis. We are individual raindrops in a huge lake. Of course each of us has our own ripple, but our lives are primarily made up of other peoples ripples crashing into our own. Many people like to think that our ripples crash randomly into each other without purpose or reason. Maybe that’s true, but then again maybe it’s not true at all. Perhaps I can help you decide. Maybe this story is the result of many ripples just coincidentally crashing into each other. Or maybe each ripple was ordered, measured, weighed, named, and timed perfectly to synchronize with the others to save a life.

The story I am about to tell shows what happens when ripples collide perfectly.

Ripple 1.)

Just about every day someone approaches me and tells me how much they enjoy my writing, this is always humbling because I was never a good writer while I was in school. It’s strange to now be a published writer and have zero writing experience or background. It’s even more insane to get a request to speak to a high school creative writing class! What do I say? “Hi, my name is Baron. I failed English, let me show you my writing skills?"  I’m not really sure how things got to this point where writing is such a huge part of who I am. Maybe it’s all a coincidence. Maybe everything is just random, and this is another one of my crazy hobbies that I have picked up; just like the time I watched the Karate Kid marathon and then researched bonsai trees and decided I needed one. Or maybe there is a reason, maybe there is an order, maybe there could possibly be a plan.

Maybe someone, somewhere, at some time, needed to read something that I would at some point write. 
Would it be far-fetched to say that there is a reason you are standing where you are standing at this exact moment and reading these words at this exact time? Would it be far fetched to say that a small decision that you see as pointless or routine could save a life? Perhaps we are all far more connected than anyone can see or comprehend. Maybe one day you will save my life. It’s not as far-fetched as you may think.  Maybe everything is just a coincidence, but maybe its not.
Get on board, buckle up, and lets take a trip.

Ripple 2.)

Back in August I approached the Midland Reporter Telegram and the Lubbock Avalanche Journal about possibly writing a weekly column chronicling my senior year at Texas Tech. After talking with both papers I came to the decision that my column would run every Wednesday. Maybe the fact that we agreed on Wednesday was simply random. What if we would have decided on a Thursday? No biggie right? Would if be far-fetched to say that this would be a life or death decision?

Ripple 3.)

As the season progressed I continued to write every week. However, it became increasingly difficult to write my column especially after a loss. People said that I wasn’t focused and it was hurting the team. There were weeks I told myself that I was just going to quit writing. I rationalized my thinking by telling myself that I should probably just focus all my attention on football, and that writing was distracting me.  It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal if I had missed a week right? Every part of me wanted to quit writing my column. After the Oklahoma State loss I decided I was going to discontinue my column. A friend talked me into continuing my writing by saying “maybe someone needs to hear something you have to say Baron.”  I decided not to stop. I’m glad I didn’t.

This is where ripples collide.

Ripple 4.)

Last Monday I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. It’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, so the next day I decided that I wanted to have a steak.  As I was strolling through the meat section of the supermarket directly violating the dentists orders to eat only soft foods, something happened that changed the way I will use the word random.

As I was checking out the price on ribeye steaks an older man came up to me with his hand extended and said, “Your Baron Batch and I just want to shake your hand and say thank you”.
I could tell by the look in his eyes that the handshake meant much more than I imagined. The look in his eyes was different than if he was just a regular Texas Tech fan. The man just continued to shake my hand while staring at me; it started to get awkward the amount of time his hand clung to mine. I thought to myself “gees this guy is acting like I saved his life or something.” Finally he let go of my hand but still didn’t speak a word. Of all the awkward Texas Tech fan moments I have experienced this one had been the most awkward for sure. I got nervous when he prefaced his conversation with “I don’t expect you to respond to what I’m about to tell you”

Ripple 5.)

Finally he released  his grasp and spoke words that I will never forget. This is what he said:
You saved my life. Five months ago I had given up, I was going to end it all.  It was a Wednesday (ripple 2). I felt like I had nothing else to live for. I had my pistol in my lap while I sat at my desk. I had set newspaper out around the floor so I wouldn’t make a mess for whoever found me. I was about to do it. Right before I pulled the trigger I looked down and saw a piece of newspaper that said, “The easiest thing in the world to do is quit.” I put the gun down and started to read more. It was a column that you had written. Your column saved me. Thank you.

I’m glad that he told me that he didn’t expect me to respond because I was speechless. I was in awe. I was stunned. Before I could even think of anything to say back to him he said, “I’m doing much better now. I feel like you just needed to know that you’re making a huge difference.” Then he walked away.

I’m not an emotional person at all but I almost cried in the meat section of the United Supermarket. At that exact moment all of those random coincidences swirled into one beautiful event that made perfect sense.

What if I had chose to have my column run on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday? It would have been a day late. What if I had given up writing my column simply because the season wasn’t going as I wanted? There are hundreds of ripples that if any had been changed would have NOT resulted in the perfect situation for that man to sit the gun down. What if my column had been printed on another page of the newspaper? I was in complete awe, and still am.

I was curious to find out what the exact column the man had read by what he described it said.

Ripple 6.)

This is why I am even more in awe. I went back and found out what column he had read and this is the paragraph he saw.

 “The easiest thing in the world to do is quit on something. Quitting takes zero effort. Quitting can even be justified with excuses and legitimate reasons at times. When someone quits at something they can even lie to themselves by saying that what they quit on wasn’t that important. To those people with that mentality this is what I have to say. If it was important enough to start, it is important enough to finish. Don’t quit. Hold on, cling to what is yours until your fingers cramp; and once your fingers cramp switch hands.”

Ripple 7.)

I wrote that column on October 18th after a loss to Oklahoma State in mid October. There are a few reasons why I find it mind blowing that was the column that the man had read.

Ripple 8.)

 I wasn’t going to write a column that week. After the Oklahoma State loss I had decided I wasn’t going to write anymore. The reason I wrote about not quitting in my column that week was because I really wanted to quit and never write again. Good thing I didn’t quit.

Ripple 9.)

The other is reason that its mind blowing that was the column that the man read is because of the date it was actually written. When I went back and looked on my blog history, the date I posted that was October 18th. So why is that date important?

 Let me tell you why, and I’m getting chills as I write this. October 18th was the date I broke my ankle my freshman year. The reason this date is important to me is because if I wouldn’t have been injured I would have never redshirted and in result would have only played at Texas Tech for 4 years instead of 5; meaning that this past season for me wouldn’t have existed, and neither would the column I wrote.

Ripple 10.)

In all reality the only reason any of you are reading this right now is simply because I was at the wrong place at the wrong time on October 18th 2006 around 3:30pm  and broke my ankle my freshman year. Or maybe the reason you are reading this is because I was at the perfect place at the perfect time and broke my ankle so that our ripples would collide.

This will be my 25th column and I never would have imagined that it would have morphed into what it has. I never thought I would be known as a writer or be approached to write books. I mean seriously, I was the kid who hated English class and still don't really enjoy reading.

I had to share that story with everyone simply because its blown my mind for the past few days. Maybe that’s all just one humongous coincidence and series of random events that I somehow constructed into a story. Maybe its all luck and chance, maybe you stumbled on this article randomly surfing the web. Maybe nothing we do matters at all.........but....... what if everything does? 

God Bless."