Today was one of my favorite days because we spent the day learning about Brazil’s history and I am a huge history buff!
We spent the day in Petropolis, the imperial city, which stands for Peter’s city, who was the emperor of Brazil in the 17th century. We started the day in the former imperial palace turned museum.
Unfortunately we could not take pictures inside the museum but it was absolutely beautiful! Learning the history of Brazil was great, and as a political science major, comparing the imperial history to that of other countries was especially rewarding and eye opening for me.
As we walked through Petropolis it looked as if the town hadn’t been touched since the 17th century. Even a house we walked by that was having construction done on it looked straight out of the imperial period. You could see the Brazilian people had a strong and proud connection to their history; something you don’t see a lot in the United States.
Next was a quick stop at another cathedral, a typical French style cathedral but beautiful nonetheless. Here, don’t take my word for it
Our next stop was lunch where we had some authentic food once again! Those who know me know that I love to eat and I love food. Those that know me well know my favorite food is Shepard’s Pie and today I had the Brazilian version and it was delicious! Now it’s not grams Shepard’s pie but it did the job today!
Our final stop was at the Bohemia Cervejaria (brewery) where we learned about the history of beer and alcohol both in Brazil and the world. Did you know the Egyptians introduced the world to beer? Maybe that should be one of the 7 wonders of the world instead of the pyramids (just kidding). It was an extremely interactive your with games and photo opportunities the whole way. At the end we got to taste two types of Bohemian beers, a Pilsen and a Confraria. Now I’m not much of a beer person (at least I’m assuming so because I am not 21 so I’ve OBVIOUSLY neeeever had alcohol) but the Pilsen was pretty good!
Another great day in Brazil in the (history) books. Hope you’re enjoying following my journey half as much as I’m enjoying having it!
So today we got a proper southern introduction into the town of Pulaski and the surrounding area. We took an economic tour of the area as well as stopped in the new Ratcliffe museum. We learned so much that really put into context for us why we are here and why what we are doing matters.
At the Ratcliffe, I GOT TO RING THE BELL IN AN ANTIQUE FIRE TRUCK, we learned about the amazing people, past and present, that make this community what it is. We learned that Pulaski is quite possibly the unluckiest town in America because almost every important building in town has burned down at some point (some of them even twice). But, and at the risk of sounding so cliche, the town rose like a Phoenix from the ashes each time on the back of people like John, the man who showed us around the museum. To see people like him, and Eric, and Buz fight to preserve the history of this town when most would have just walked away, really made you appreciate the love these people have for their community and made me even more excited to serve in this amazing community. This is a town worth fighting for (sung to the tune of Mulan’s a girl worth fighting for).
Then we drove around the area and saw all the abandoned factories that use to be the economic engine of the area. Then, even more upsetting was the damage and carnage left behind by the tornado that hit three years ago. The only thing more upsetting than all of that is knowing that in the richest country in the world we can’t even help out a town recovering from a natural disaster (this is something that I had to take quite a bit if time to calm down from).
The thing that stuck with me most was the similarities that Pulaski had to so many places that I know. When I see the blight in the aftermath of the tornado I can’t help but think of Springfield. When I see a once proud industrial down filled with abandoned buildings and empty storefronts I can’t help but think of my hometown of Ware, MA. These are not problems unique to Pulaski, however, the solution will be. We must abandon the idea of one size fits all policies and the notion that what works in one place will work in others.
The best part about this tour is that it gave us all a sense of purpose for what we will be doing this week. When we are rebuilding homes we know it’s because we need to help where the federal government will not. When we hand out food to those who can’t afford it we know it’s because these industries left to find cheaper labor and left these people with nothing (NOT because they are “lazy” or want to live off of public assistance). When we help kids with homework, or just play games with them at the after school program we know it’s because these schools, and education are the only things that will save these kids from suffering the unfortunate fate of their parents and give them a hope at repairing their community. Lastly, we know that when people thank us, with a smile, for doing what we may believe to be insignificant, it is because they realize that not everyone has forgotten about them and that there is hope for this lovely little town that could: Pulaski (pronounced pew-laski), VA.
I am living Pulaski