As the only student from my university to accept a summer position with Iracambi, I was originally nervous about what to expect. However, after my first contact with Carla, all of my nervousness was erased. At Iracambi, I was met by a supportive and interesting staff and volunteer cohort that not only worked tirelessly to make me feel at home, but helped me discover my passions and a project that related to them. From visiting local coffee plantations to leaning about agroforests and sustainable farming to teaching English courses at the local school, I was given ample opportunities to learn and challenge myself intellectually.
While Iracambi allows their volunteers to learn through real world experience, knowledge of the environment is only a small portion of what you will leave with. Minas Gerais hosts one of the richest cultures within Brazil and Iracambi works tirelessly to ensure that their volunteers have the opportunity to experience it. From indescribable comida mineira provided by Iracambi's world class chef, Larissa to the baked goods sold across the street by Carminha, you will leave Iracambi with "saudades" of the food. In addition, Deivid, a professional tour guide and coordinator of Iracambi's nursery, provides all volunteers with invaluable tips and recommendations for weekend excursions across Minas Gerais, Espiritio Santo, and Rio de Janeiro. However, you do not have to travel far to have an excursion. Countless trails, waterfalls, mountains, and attractions are located on or in close proximity to Iracambi's state-of-the-art campus.
Among all of my experiences at Iracambi, the most important to me are the relationships and friendships that I had made. All volunteers and staff members at Iracambi come from different backgrounds, but all are united by a common theme, a passion for the rainforest. There, you will encounter the some of the most passionate, intelligent, and interesting people in the world which, without-a-doubt, lead to future successes and change lives. Overall, my time at Iracambi provided me with an invaluable, intellectually challenging, and meaningful experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.