Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brazilian Square Dancing

Today is the Festa Junina party at the public school behind our building. It sounds really fun, and it is CRAZY loud. I tried to catch some of it on video, but it just didn't do it justice. One cultural difference between the US and Brazil is perspective on noise. There tends to be a lot more noise here: horns, music, people advertising on the street yelling "dentista!". When we first moved into our apartment, I had a really hard time sleeping, but since then I've been able to tune most of it out. It helps that it's cooler now, so we have the windows shut, but these are single pane windows, so it doesn't make that much of a difference. I use to be very intolerant of noise: my first year in college I hated how noisy Tacoma and the dorms were. I missed the peace and quite of sprayers, helicopters and bird in the huge Ponderosa Pine by our house (I grew up in rural Washington state, always surrounded by apple orchards). But seriously, I've come a long way, and I have a lot more tolerance for noise. I had a very interesting conversation with a Brazilian while we were looking for schools. One of the schools I visited came highly recommended. But I remember thinking as I observed some of the classrooms "this teacher must not have very good control of the class, because everyone is talking! It's not very conducive to learning here..." The person I was talking to laughed, and asked me, "why is it that quiet means learning?" And I realized that I had stumbled upon one of my many cultural biases. I was talking with another Brazilian friend yesterday who mentioned a party that she went to. She didn't really know many of the guests, but she said that she probably talked for four hours with everyone. Meaning everyone was talking at the same time for four hours. She said that part of being Brazilian means learning how to hold all those conversations at the same time. It may seem chaotic and like no one is listening, but it is just a different way of having a good time with others. Matt's birthday is coming up soon, so I'm going to try to plan a night out (babysitter, concert, little get together at a restaurant afterward). So I'm hoping to enjoy some of this noise, and participate as well!

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