Where It’s At

The hostel where we’re staying is a real treat. Pousada dos Franceses is located on a beautiful winding one-way street, surrounded by colorful homes and shops –– and it’s just a quick uphill walk away from Paulista Avenue. The hostel employees are incredibly hospitable and it’s been nice these first few days to be able to chat with other tenants and the various people manning the front desk.

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Kin Wan, a fellow guest at Pousada dos Franceses, traveled to Brazil in 2008 to learn the universally popular style of music bossa nova.

 

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The street view from Pousada dos Franceses’ front door.

 

It’s wonderful to work on our respective stories through our contacts and translators in this environment, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say it’s great to be making progress on our stories down here. For now, my mornings are spent finalizing details and making calls, but soon enough I’ll be posting content from my personal story.

 

A pair of Andrew Dickinson's jeans hang out the window after Wednesday night's big storm.

A pair of Andrew Dickinson’s jeans hang out the window after Wednesday night’s big storm.

 

Nickolai Hammar makes a call to further his progress on his story.

Nickolai Hammar makes a call to further his progress on his story.

 

An empty hanger is strung from the laundry line on a balcony.

An empty hanger is strung from the laundry line on one of Pousada dos Franceses’ many balconies.

 

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A view of the São Paulo skyline as seen from the laundry room.

Exploring an artistic community

It was an interesting day to say the least. My morning and afternoon were occupied with street vendors, performers, artists and of course, photographers.

I first took the subway to 25 de Março, an open market that was packed full of people. Street vendors sold items such as clothing and swimsuits, jewelry, purses, toys and everything in between. Live entertainment was also abundant.

A street performer interacts with passerby at 25 de Março. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

A street performer interacts with passerby at 25 de Março.

While vendors and performers were lively and hard working, one person really caught my attention. A street artist by the name of Barto Rodrigues dos Santos painted tiles, which he then sold to passerby for 10 real (five U.S. dollars). Barto said he usually sells about 20 tiles per day, and even more on Saturdays.

Barto paints a waterfall for a waiting customer. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Dos Santos paints a waterfall for a waiting customer.

Selling art every day is not possible for dos Santos because of the weather and unfair police discrimination. Supposedly, street art vending is legal in 25 de Março, but like many illegal vendors in the market, dos Santos said he’s been told to leave before.

When he’s not selling art, dos Santos works in a supermarket and does odd jobs. But even with this extra income, he’s barely getting by. He lives alone and does his best to support his six-year-old daughter, Victoria, who lives with her mother. Oftentimes however, dos Santos mother must loan him money to help support Victoria.

Surrounded by customers, dos Santos wipes his hands before continuing an oil painting on tile.

Surrounded by customers, dos Santos encloses a finished painting in plastic.

With 15 years of experience under his belt, dos Santos has become quite comfortable with his trade. He learned to paint like this while spending time in a bohemian area of Minas Gerais.

Although he enjoys painting in 25 de Março, dos Santos doesn’t want to stay here forever. He’s hoping to join an NGO in the future, where he can teach art to both children and adults. Until then, dos Santos plans to continue his artwork near and far. He enjoys discovering new places and uniting the “useful and the pleasant.”

Dos Santos concentrates on a painting in 25 de Março. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Dos Santos concentrates on a painting in 25 de Março.

Later in the day, Bruce, Bethany, Andrew and I visited Projecto Trecho 2.8, a photography organization in downtown São Paulo. Grácia, a project coordinator, described it as a program for people in a situation of high social vulnerability, or in other words, homeless. But Grácia shied away from using this term, simply because their situations can change. She explained that it’s not fair to label these people as homeless, as they’re still contributing members of society.

“Even though their living in these places, they don’t lose the human ability to create,” said our translator Guilia Afuine, after photography student Sandra de Olivera described the living situation of a friend. This particular person was paying 500 real (equivalent to 250 U.S. dollars) per month for a 2′ x 2′ apartment infested with rats. With such high rent for such low-scale housing, it’s no wonder Sao Paulo hosts a significant homeless population.

But as Guilia explained, these people’s situations have little effect on their creativity and imagination. Participants are provided cameras and taught basic photography techniques, before shooting images on their own. Gerson Roberto described the project as an anchor, a way to balance the positive and discouraging aspects of his life.

Valter Machado (left) and Alassandro Daniel Martins show and explain their photographs Wednesday. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Valter Machado (left) and Alassandro Daniel Martins, both Projecto Trecho 2.8 participants, show and explain their photographs Wednesday.

Up until July, Projecto Trecho 2.8 was funded by young businesspeople. But now, participants are selling postcards, magnets and other items to make their project self-sustainable. To browse photographs and support Projecto Trecho 2.8, check out their website.

Overall, it was amazing to see such passion for photography coming from people who aren’t often given such opportunities. Sometimes raw talent and enthusiasm is overlooked because of outward appearances, but this wasn’t one of those times.

Projecto Trecho 2.8 participants and directors pose with UNL students, professor Bruce Thorson and translator Giulia Afuine.

Projecto Trecho 2.8 participant Tula Pilon autographs a photo, using professor Bruce Thorson's back as a tabletop. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Projecto Trecho 2.8 participant Tula Pilon (right) autographs a photo, using professor Bruce Thorson’s back as a tabletop.

Many thanks to Giovana Schlüter Nunes and Giulia Afuine for translation help today.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding.

Three Days

We’ve been here for three days and I’ve taken a few photos. Anna and I visited Cracolandia in the center of São Paulo yesterday, but we chose to not take any photos. We wanted to get a feel for the area and see how the people reacted to our presence. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I’m looking forward to working with Anna. We are heading back out tomorrow and depending on how it goes, hopefully we will be able to make some photos.

The city of São Paulo continues to amaze me. It is colorful, loud, and diverse, the epitome of my perception of South America. Only three days in and I feel like I can safely say that I won’t want to leave when our time here is up.

A Brazilian man plays guitar for a small crowd at a corner cantina in downtown São Paulo.

A Brazilian man plays guitar for a small crowd at a corner cantina in downtown São Paulo.

Brian Lehmann and Andrew Dickinson look out the window during the contact dinner on Monday night.

Brian Lehmann and Andrew Dickinson look out the window during the contact dinner on Monday night.

Kat Buchanan stretches out after the long pizza dinner.

Kat Buchanan stretches out after the long pizza dinner.

Matthew Masin and Kat Buchanan walking the streets of São Paulo.

Matthew Masin and Kat Buchanan walking the streets of São Paulo.

Thanks for looking.

-Brianna

Two days

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It doesn’t feel like we’ve been in Sao Paulo for just two days.

They’ve flown by, but at the same time I already feel as though we’ve been here a while. Sao Paulo is an interesting city – the neighborhood we are staying in, near Paulista Avenue, one of the main streets in the city, is very vibrant.

I’ve been on past trips through the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNL to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and India. Each country is vastly different, yet vastly the same.

Included in this post are a few feature photos from the treks up and down and up and down Paulista Avenue with our professor, Bruce Thorson, making sure that we have mobile phones that work locally. The process seems to be different in each country, and there’s always at least one complication.

At the end of the post, you’ll see three photos from the group’s dinner last night, where we invited all of our incredible contacts.

To our readers: we sincerely appreciate you following this blog and hope you like the content. Enjoy!

– AD

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First Impressions

On Sunday I left the country for the first time in my life, and to be honest, I was a bit terrified. I thought Brazil would be infinitely different than the United States, and in many ways, it is. But different isn’t always bad.

(Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

The first thing I noticed after stepping out of the airport Sunday was the scent. It had just rained — as it does almost every day — and the humid air was sweet, much like the people I’ve met so far.

A man walks down Rua 13 de Maio. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

A man walks down Rua 13 de Maio.

We had a dinner last night with local Brazilians, who are helping us with our projects. I was surprised by how willing these people were to assist us because people in the U.S. aren’t always so helpful. Maybe it was because most of these people were journalists and they understood our difficulties, or maybe Brazilian culture had a lot more to do with it. Regardless of the reason, their kindness and assistance was much appreciated.

Brianna Soukup waits for guests to arrive to dinner at Cantina Conchetta Monday evening. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Brianna Soukup waits for guests to arrive to dinner at Cantina Conchetta Monday evening.

Thiago Slash talks to Brian Lehmann during dinner at Cantina Conchetta. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Thiago Slash talks to Brian Lehmann during dinner at Cantina Conchetta.

Our group talks outside of Cantina Conchetta after dinner. (Photo by Cara Wilwerding).

Our group talks outside of Cantina Conchetta after dinner.

The majority of my time here will be spent working on two different stories. First, I’m researching a music program for underprivileged children in a favela called Paraisópolis (Paradise City). This program hopes to host a 10,000 string orchestra within the next ten years. Secondly, I’m going to explore the lives of vendors at 25 de Março, an open market that gets very busy around Christmastime. Many of these vendors are impoverished and make their own food, drinks, clothing and other items to sell at low prices and support their families.

I’m excited to get started on both these projects and I hope you keep following our blog! We appreciate your support thus far.

-Cara Wilwerding

Dinner

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, against the back wall, listen as the guests--journalists, student journalists and community activists--introduce themselves. Students use this opportunity to meet and gather information regarding the stories they are pursuing during their time here in Sao Paulo. (Photo by Bruce Thorson)

University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, against the back wall, listen as the guests–journalists, student journalists and community activists–introduce themselves. Students use this opportunity to meet and gather information regarding the stories they are pursuing during their time here in Sao Paulo. (Photo by Bruce Thorson)

(photo by matt masin) Professor Bruce Thorson kicks off the dinner by telling the group of journalists and community activists why we're in Sao Paulo.

Professor Bruce Thorson kicks off the dinner by telling the group of journalists and community activists why we’re in Sao Paulo. (photo by matt masin)

Assistant Brian Lehmann talks with Kat Buchanan to see what leads and progress she made into her story after eating dinner with contacts Monday night. (photo by matt masin)

Assistant Brian Lehmann talks with Kat Buchanan to see what leads and progress she made into her story after eating dinner with contacts Monday night. (photo by matt masin)

Matt Masin, right, Nickolai Hammar and Andrew Dickinson spend time with several of the contacts gathering information about the stories they are pursuing. (Photo by Bruce Thorson)

Matt Masin, right, Nickolai Hammar and Andrew Dickinson spend time with several of the contacts gathering information about the stories they are pursuing. (Photo by Bruce Thorson)