To commemorate the September 7 Independence of Brazil, the American School of Brasilia (EAB) held a celebratory assembly today with teachers, parents, and all of EAB’s students, ranging from 3 to 18 years of age. The auditorium was abuzz with anticipation and the attendees were not disappointed by the presentations, which were mostly led by students. It was an impressive display and homage to our host country, Brazil. EAB’s mission and motto highlight the importance of a culturally diverse school that cultivates citizenship and celebrates diversity. Of paramount importance are the inclusion, study, and celebration of Brazil’s culture as a key element of Brazil’s educational program. In fact, for the countries we have the privilege to call “home,” it is our responsibility to learn as much as we can about the local languages and customs of our hosts. EAB’s mission underscores how our school takes this responsibility very seriously. In the spirit of celebrating September 7, the following is a brief personal narrative about my own relationship with Brazil. I have had the honor of living in Brazil since the year 2000 and am deeply grateful for the opportunity to both learn from Brazilians and experience the richness and diversity associated with Brazilian culture. Shortly after arriving in Brazil, I committed to learning more about Brazilian culture, in addition to overcoming a personal inhibition, through a decision to take ballroom dance lessons with Espaço de Dança Andrei Udiloff. The process of learning to dance Samba de Gafieira, which I can assure you was not an easy assignment for my instructor, was both profound and rewarding. The classes opened a unique window into Brazilian culture, language, history, art, and music. Among the rich array of traditional Brazilian music, I was struck by Tom Jobim’s Águas de Março, which has continued to be my favorite Brazilian song to this day. If you are not familiar with the song, the following is a captivating rendition by Elis Regina. In addition to a stirring musical production, Águas de Março’s lyrics also resonate with the challenges of our daily lives. Based on my very amateur interpretation, the metaphor of Águas de Março represents a seemingly endless march forward, requiring us to overcome both the minor and significant challenges associated with daily lives. This metaphor seems apropos when applied to the onward progression of the student learning process and educational program development at EAB, in addition to the macro challenge of overall school improvement and the imperative to continue advancing education for all in Brazil and around the world. Águas de Março also reflects the eternal optimism often found in Brazilian culture through the repeated reference to the “promise of life.” As educators and parents, it is this “promise of life” that motivates and inspires us to be the very best parents and educators we can be for our children and students. It is also one of the many reasons why I am so appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to live in Brasilia and to call Brazil my home.
Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-ND 2.0) flickr photo by Antonio Thomas: https://www.flickr.com/photos/antoniothomas/4676898983