From Nigeria to Brazil

I am Akalonu Chinonyerem Michelle, a 400 level student of Information Technology, FUTO, from Nigeria. Earlier this year, from the month of August to the end of October, I had the privilege of undergoing my IAESTE industrial training in Brazil.

For a while, I had continuously imagined visiting a South or Latin American country because of how the people are portrayed in the media (movies). Even though the media doesn't do justice to the bright sides of most South American and African countries, there are some wonderful sights and feelings they can't help but show about these continents eg. cultural elements such as music, dressing, language, food, aura of content and happiness etc. These things made the African in me feel connected to the continent so visiting Brazil for even a very short time frame of two months was like a dream come true. I underwent my Industrial training in Ouro Preto, a historical town in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The state is located in the south eastern part of Brazil with another city, Belo Horizonte as its capital.

I worked in the Federal University of Ouro Preto, MG in the center for inclusive education (NEI). The center in the University is dedicated to helping the students with physical disabilities.  Their staff include a lot of sign language interpreters and as a student in Information
Technology, I was required to build an online platform to enhance the learning process of these students.

My visit to Brazil has contributed immensely to my growth as an individual. I met a lot of people from other countries under the IAESTE program as well and got the opportunity to learn a little about people from at least 13 countries all over the world eg. Germany, Holland, Spain, Mexico, Serbia, Lithuania, India, Dubai, Ghana, Brazil, Mozambique, Benin Republic, Congo, USA, Cape Verde. Each country listed above had a representative each of whom made my two and half months in Brazil on of the most memorable in my life.

The Brazilians in Ouro Preto were the most welcoming, friendly and civilized set of people I have ever met. They were all willing and ready to help in any difficult situation and when they find out you are a foreigner, their faces always lit up with excitement and they literally spend all their time getting to know you and making you feel at home.

The official Language of the country is Portuguese and before traveling, I took to YouTube to learn some basics that would help while I was travelling. Brazilians are always willing to converse with you no matter the language you speak and are always eager to share as many elements of their culture and language with you as they can. As a result, I underwent a few free Portuguese classes for foreign students. This experience with a foreign language in a foreign country taught me a lot about the people who spoke it and also about the English language and my native tongue. It also made me question many things that I never paid any attention to about my culture and language and my people. I encountered many situations that taught me to do research and read more on many aspects of not just Nigeria but also Africa at large like culture, international relations, history of languages, The Nigerian government, the history of settlements, the history of the different cultures in Nigeria and reason for diversity in Nigeria.

In the historical town Ouro Preto, Brazil I had the opportunity to visit many museums and old churches namely The church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Igreja de Nossa senhora do pilar, praça Tiradentes square( the city center), Inconfidence museum and I even got the opportunity to hike and climb the Pico do itacolomi. I also visited two waterfalls and saw many rock formations and caves. I also visited two other towns in Minas Gerais namely Belo Horizonte and Mariana and I got to visit the famous Inhotim park/Museum in Brumadinho Minas Gerais, Brazil.

I got to hike a lot during my stay in Minas Gerais because of the hilly and rocky terrain which helped me to stay fit. The city of Ouro Preto is very beautiful with many rock formations and is the perfect description of where nature, history, architecture and craftsmanship came to play. The city isn't just famous for rock formations and museums but also their knack for partying, the abundance of bars in the area and also food, especially meat. I saw many fruits and vegetables that are also present in Nigeria and more. I got the opportunity to actually see and touch many fruits that are scarce here but very popular in health books and television. I got to try many of their delicacies, snacks and drinks like Coxinha, Acai, caipirinha, many other cocktails and a lot of other dishes. I saw many familiar food stuff also present in Nigeria being processed and eaten in many different ways and all of these helped improve my cooking techniques.

In conclusion, it was a life changing experience to go out of my comfort zone to undergo my IAESTE internship in Brazil and I wouldn't have had my internship any other way. I will definitely try to visit Brazil again. Visiting Ouro Preto, Brazil improved me in so many unforgettable ways, it not only taught me academic lessons but also the Importance of public relations, effective communication, etiquette, being a bit more adventurous, tolerance, spontaneity, a friendly attitude, kindness, and also gave me an opportunity to come in contact and experience different parts of nature I had never seen and experienced before.

I definitely recommend an industrial training experience with IAESTE to students because it expands your view of the world and life at large and enhances your growth as an individual and you get to create unforgettable and life changing memories in different country.


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