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Peterson reflects on touring communities near Rio de Janeiro

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Lipscomb volleyball player Claire Peterson writes about visiting other communities around Rio de Janeiro.

By Claire Peterson

Monday started off with a tour of a favela (shanty town) or community.  These communities pepper the mountainsides of Rio de Janeiro (largest contains 200,000 people) and they look like different sized boxcars stacked upon each other.

Each one is beautiful in a unique in a broken way. Each is equally dependent on the other for support much like the people living within them.

Cats and dogs, small joyful children, adults, and the elderly all make up the faces of a favela.

A stunning display inside the community is called “Projecto Morrinho.”  Using bricks, the community created a scaled down version of Rio de Janeiro.  A sign in the Morrinho said, “Welcome to My Life.”  This struck many of us because the people of the community created an alternate reality (The Morrinho) in order to deal with hardships and find pride in their lives.

In the afternoon, we headed to the beach.  As we pulled up, we were greeted by cappy barras (think oversized hamsters).  The day at the beach was filled with wave jumping, coconut waters, and of course quintessential beach pictures.

While we were leaving the beach, an unforeseen event came about and altered our plans for the rest of the day as well as the rest of our trip.

After processing the day’s events, I was reminded of the favelas-each structure unique and dependent upon the next.  If one structure were to crumble and collapse, a snowball effect would occur leading to the destruction of everything else around it.  This event could have caused our team to crumble, but instead we turned inward, relying on each other, to offer support.

Although our new path was a little different than we planned, new opportunities (sampling an amazing Brazilian breakfast) and unexpected experiences (meeting Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team at a street fair) made our experience memorable.

What made our new journey special was the fact that we hung together as one, tight unit, ready and willing to go where God called us.