Written by: Marlee Stollar
Through the organization Alpha Zeta Partners, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Brazil for six weeks in January-February 2018. This trip was not your typical study abroad, I feel as though because of it I have learned so much about the country. I was forced to step out of my comfort zone on this trip, and as a result of that, I believe I am a more open-minded individual.
I learned the most about myself and about the country through the homestay I experienced in Brazil. Though I could only spend four days with them, my host family greatly impacted me. Whether it was swimming with my host-sister Beatriz, singing Bruno Mars with my host-mom or eating breakfast with my host-dad, every second was a learning experience. My family and I had a deal, I would help to improve their English and they would teach me some Portuguese and how to Samba (a Brazilian style of dance). I loved learning more about their fun and outgoing culture, it didn’t matter to me if my host family didn’t always understand me. I learned to step outside of my comfort zone that weekend and was welcomed by a kind and loving family. My experiences with my host family taught me more about Brazilian culture, Portuguese and made me see life from a new perspective.
On another note, I cannot express how much I learned about agriculture on this trip. Our group went on countless tours, from seeing meat-processing plants to visiting a seed genetics company, the opportunity to learn was always present. My favorite tour was the field day we visited at Syngenta. I enjoyed seeing the field plots and learning more about agronomy in general. It was very interesting to go through the different stations as if we all were Brazilian farmers attending that field day. I especially enjoyed just seeing how Brazilian agriculture directly connected to U.S. agriculture. This idea reinforced to me how important agriculture is in every country and the important role it plays. Global agriculture is now a subject I am much more interested in and excited to learn more about due to my experiences on this trip. Through Alpha Zeta Partners I learned an abundance about Brazilian agriculture and how it impacts the United States.
Before going on this study abroad, I believed Brazil would impact me in some way, but did not truly anticipate how this impact would take place. Now I can say that I have become a more open-minded, educated and cultured individual. My experience in Brazil challenged me, and taught me that sometimes it is these challenges that cause the greatest influence on an individual. I would like to thank CFAES and Alpha Zeta Partners for causing me to learn enough for a lifetime in only six weeks.