I took part in teaching English at the Centro Social e Cultural Tatiane Lima over a 10 week period, as well as getting my hands dirty replanting trees, mending and creating pathways in the Tijuca Rainforest. Needless to say this was an amazing experience as a student studying anthropology & sociology, as it has given me greater cultural and societal insights into Brazil. Moreover, on a personal level the 11 weeks I stayed in Brazil were positively life changing and were boosted by Felipes support throughout - I am especially thankful for the connections I made through Felipe as he connected me to a wonderful Portuguese tutor, hostel/English teachers/rainforest volunteers and gave me a great tour of the city. The accommodation is relatively safe given the city, I stayed there for 10 weeks and was never fearful of my belongings being stolen, the staff there speak multiple languages which makes this experience accessible for people from many different backgrounds. Obviously extra precaution must be taken whilst in Brazil including not being flashy and being aware of your surroundings, however, the people and areas I was introduced to by Felipe were beautiful, kind and high spirited people only willing to introduce me to their culture. However, the relative precautions which must be take do not detract from the cities night life, culture and fun and I recommend for any prospective volunteers reading this to consider striking a balancing between immersing into the culture and volunteering as this is an amazing opportunity which has to be embraced 360 to get the real Carioca feel!
As the director of the programme Felipe is was very helpful, encouraging and understanding and helped me get acquainted to the culture more quickly and get around. His openness in sharing his story and the development of the organisation is also inspiring . Lastly, as a student this was an amazing experience to practice ethnographic work for the first time in a completely other culture which is invaluable - I urge students in general to consider this as a cost effective option to garner more work experience to not only immerse yourself and study but to add to your resume.