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The following post is from Kristen Lee, a 2014 Global Gap Year Fellow. UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship is housed in and staffed by the Campus Y. Find out more about the fellowship on our GGYF Facebook page!” 

With two weeks left, right now would be the perfect time for a blog post on the pre-goodbye. The aching pains and bittersweet vision of seeing my friends and family back home. But that’s where I get stuck. I am, well, home.

The pain of leaving southern Brazil will be greater than the pain I had felt when I left Chapel Hill. I’m leaving a project unfinished. A great work of art, and I had only seen a corner of it. A family tree, and I have only sat beneath her shade. It may have been the life Brazil has shown me, or it might have been the intense unknown that has fostered my glowing fire and love for Brazil.

I don’t believe in time anymore. Only moments. My time here hasn’t been seven and a half months. It has been measured in smiles between strangers, greetings of cheek kisses, tight hugs that communicate all that verbal language can’t. It has been measured by the varying sounds that rain has made on the various roofs I’ve slept under, the feeling of the sun in different cities, and the smells of cars, homes, bodies, and churches. It has been measured in my progress of Portuguese, friendships, religious faith, growing habits, and familial comfort. It has been measured by conversations with Global Citizen Year Fellows and staff, progressive commitment to the program, and exploration. It has been measured by my newfound understanding of who I was, am, and will be.

There are songs that will bring me back to my room in Jardim Social, the long bus rides to Floripa, sewing in the Portugal Park, washing the dishes in Vila Zumbi, and the Baptist churches. There are songs that remind me of missing Chapel Hill, of solidarity and confusion, and of writing blog posts.

There are these places and moments that stir up life within me – being soaking wet at Devil’s Throat at Iguaçu Falls, standing at the top of Canyon Itaimbezinho, running down the sand dunes in Lagoa da Conceição, soaring above Rio de Janeiro, my first bus ride in Curitiba, planting feijão in Mossungûe.

 

I have lost all of my sense of time. What does two weeks look like? My last two weeks of a perspective shattering, life reviving, uncomfortably challenging bridge year.