Joseph Harris

Destination:
Brazil
Host Club:
Sertaozinho Aparecida
Home Town:
Wellington

My year away:

My year away to Brazil in 2008 was a year that offered me so many rich and interesting new experiences that broadened my outlook on life. I never enjoy getting into the business of comparing different life experiences and subjectively deciding what path is best for others.  But I believe variety is the spice of life.  A gap year in keeping with the metaphor is a very concentrated burst of spice. For example In Brazil I met a ton of new people, travelled extensively seeing places like Rio de Janeiro, Pantanal , Jericocoara, Salvador, Forteleza, Bonito, Porto Seguro and Sao Carlos. (just to name a few). But to experience a culture one must go beyond dancing and postcard images. Witnessing poverty, the ugliness of Sao Paulo traffic and hearing from my Brazilian host dad about his experiences fighting the military dictatorship on the streets when he was a student, provided a memorable experience.  Culture Is not about where but who. Hence one cannot simply expect a cultural experience simply going somewhere. Here I thank Rotary; I don’t believe I would have got an experience quite so rich without them.  Rotary stands out from other exchange programs as you are put in an easier position to meet a lot of great people.  Everyone who has gone on an exchange I have ever met has always told me that the year was one of the most memorable of their lives. Most of these people also state that the year was also the best of their lives. So I whole heartedly encourage anybody who has a curious mind and a passion for life to just get out there and do it.