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The Power of Support July 7, 2010

Posted by amarkon in Brazil, Doctoral, Graduate, Individual Fellowship.
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So, where did we leave off? Well, I was in Ribeirão Preto getting ready to start a project dealing with the slightly nasty disease known as dengue. Like I said in my prior post, I was back in my country of birth—Brazil. I speak Portuguese fluently, and I do consider myself very involved in Brazilian culture and whatnot. But it’s still incredible how many unexpected things can happen. I could spend hours just listing every single unexpected event that happened to me during my stay there, but I’ll just quickly sum up the most pleasant of said surprises—the never ending kindness and generosity of the people with whom I worked.

I had been fortunate to have had contact with these people two years ago during an internship related to my master’s degree. This meant that I arrived in Brazil already knowing that I’d be treated well, but I just could not imagine how nice people would actually be during my stay. It was incredible! If I wanted to talk to somebody, not only would that person schedule some time to see me (regardless of their position or other commitments) but they would have some delicious Brazilian coffee and some sort of nice little snack ready-made or bought fresh, just for me! This hospitality was everywhere, including at the Secretariat of Health.

In fact, my collaborator, my advisor, and I all were invited to a nice informal dinner at the house of the head of the epidemiology department. She prepared a ton of amazing Brazilian specialties just for us—all from scratch! (Just do an image search for pernil assado and pão de queijo, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. That, and you’ll get jealous.) I will never forget all the kindness on their part. It’s nice to know I have a great understanding with them. Not only did I have complete support for my project, I also believe I have made life-lasting relationships. You just can’t beat that!

As you can imagine, the support I got from all these people in Ribeirão Preto was just incredible! I had some pretty lofty goals for this project. I pretty much decided to try and get done in a single month what should probably have taken more time, yet I accomplished all of my goals for this project! How you ask? Well, speaking Portuguese helped … but, once again, I can’t help but credit the support I got from everybody down there. Oh, and what I’ve learned in my master’s and what I’m currently learning during my PhD may also have helped just a tad …

Moral of the story: never underestimate how much easier your life can be when you have other people’s support.

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