“After a 15 hour flight from Texas, I finally arrived at the airport. I was greeted and picked up by my guide, Luis. Upon arriving to the hostel in Rio, I met other people from around the world who were also volunteers. Everyone was nice and I enjoyed getting to know them. It wasn’t long until we all started doing activities together like eating, dancing, and discovering new places.
My first full day in Rio included going to see Christ the Redeemer and getting to know the neighborhood. Over the next few weeks, I would see everything from favelas, beaches, the Olympics and everything in between. Although I enjoyed myself, I did experience a few challenges and some unexpected events. First, I didn’t pack enough clothing and much of the clothing that I did bring wasn’t suitable for the weather. Being that I went to Rio in the winter, I wasn’t aware that the weather would change every few days. Not to worry, there were plenty of shopping malls! The second challenge was…walking! We walked almost everywhere in Rio, so it’s a good idea to bring a good pair of tennis shoes. There are so many hills and steps to climb, so get ready to work out. Another challenge was communication and understanding the language. The language barrier was probably the biggest challenge for me, especially because Portuguese is a difficult language to learn. Luckily there were several volunteers who either knew Portuguese, or a similar language, who were able to translate for me.
My volunteer project was very fulfilling. I loved going to volunteer and met some incredible people who were so giving and very kind. I grew to know the community and enjoyed being able to give back. A huge highlight was being in the newspaper along with the children and other volunteers from my project. It was really awesome and a memory that I won’t ever forget!
Overall, my trip to Rio De Janeiro was awesome! Every day was a new adventure where I made a new friend and learned more about myself. I am lucky because I truly made new friends through our common love of volunteer and travel.
***Some unexpected things to expect: paying for transportation to and from your project, not being able to take your phone outside much due to theft (although I did and was fine, other phones were taken), various ATM’s not functioning properly, a long wait to use the bathroom, no hot water, and lots of people living in the hostel aside from the volunteers.”