Shout out to Keia on her birthday! (technically yesterday, because now it’s the 14th..)
I’m pretty sure that last week was more or less relaxed, as I predicted it would be. There was a jazz festival in Leblon on Saturday and our friend premiered DJing for the first time at a tiny venue in Botafogo while Sunday was another perfect day on the beach with friends. I can’t seem to remember out-rightly much of anything before that though, because the last two-three days have been absolutely insane. I once again remember what it is like to be so busy that you forget you had to pee, and I also remember how much better I function at that level of activity, weirdly enough. I don’t know if it’s because I am more productive or social or too tired to care, but I always seem to be in a better mindset when I’ve slept 5 hours a night a few nights in a row after 10 or 12 hour days away from the house. If that’s any indication as to what kind of job I’m going to have (or should have) I don’t know, but I’m still really torn about the decision I have to make for Deloitte by the end of this month. My offer deadline was moved to November 26, which gives me just over 10 days to make up my mind. I feel like there are still a lot of options I haven’t considered. I feel like I have to choose between money and security versus certain skills and newness that I want. Speaking of those skills and newness though, we were supposed to register for classes for next semester this past week. I am not able to just yet since I have to work out a hold on my account, but I only have two more required classes to take for my degree so I got permission to take accelerated entry level French! I can’t remember if I already mentioned that I started listening to Pimsleur audio tapes in French, but I am really excited to learn more languages now that I’ve seen how entirely possible it is to communicate without the need to be fluent. The fact that learning a new language opens up the opportunity to communicate with a whole new culture of people is absolutely amazing to me.
As for this week, we got up early Monday morning to head to Fundão since we had a meeting with Professor Orlando and now have to attend his class on Mondays and Wednesdays. We talked over our Capstone project, and today we had our first chance to make contact with kids here in Brazil and test some of our ideas! Just for a quick re-cap: our project deals with emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction specifically related to urban flooding and landslides in high risk (generally favela) communities in Rio de Janeiro. We want to develop a game (computer or mobile) that teaches principles of emergency preparedness to children ages 12-16. A game called Stop Disasters Now (www.stopdisasters.org) was already funded by the UN for this very purpose, and the company that actually created the game has gotten lots of positive feedback about it over the years. Our idea was to take this existing game in to schools and design an experiment to test whether this game actually accomplishes what it was set out to do by evaluating how much the kids learn while they are playing and what they like and don’t like about the game. With an audience, some data to back the positive feedback, and a plan to expand the game to include Portuguese and a landslide scenario (currently only has flooding, wildfire, etc., but no landslide), we think there might be an opportunity to work with the UN and PlayerThree on this project in the future. Fortunately for us, Bernardo’s mom is the director of the oldest school in Brazil (the emperor’s school). She managed to pull a class for us into the computer lab there today so that we could test our plan, and it went really well. We had to translate all of the instructions to Portuguese and print up a sort of pre-test and post-test survey for them to take. (Printing and making copies is not only expensive here, it is difficult. You know that when you almost cry because the guy who made your copies after you spent an hour getting them to print gets mad at you because he misunderstood you and you don’t know the word for stapler.) We let them play the game, screen captured some of their play to analyze their decision making later, and interviewed a few of them afterward. They all seemed to really like it and were very interested and cooperative. We’re thinking we should probably go with less kids for the next run since our 33 was a bit much today, but it was an awesome first run and I finally feel like we are going somewhere with this project!
Tomorrow we have class with Professor Orlando and will share our results of the experiment with him. We also have one more night class for MLG before the feriadão! We have officially decided to go on a road trip and booked a car for Thursday through Tuesday. We waited a bit too long to book flights anywhere without paying an exorbitant amount of money, so I researched a little bit and created a sort of loop we can take around Minas Gerais so that at least we will see something different and get to explore another state of Brazil. The first stop is São Thomé das letras. It is a city of stone and mountaintops and waterfalls and mystics that sounds really interesting and is highly recommended by the people I know who have been there. We don’t know where we’ll go right afterward, but our friend Amanda lives in Belo Horizonte (the capital of Minas Gerais) and will be home that weekend so on Sunday we will travel there for stay with her. From Belo Horizonte it is easy enough to go to the old mining town of Ouro Preto and back in a day. On our way home Tuesday I think we’ll stop by the city of Tiradentes and explore a bit before making our way back to Rio. We still have 3 nights of hostels to book and packing to do, but it will have to wait for tomorrow. We were assigned a new project on simulation for Pesquisa Operacional II that we’ll need to look into when we get back and real life commences again. Right now we just need to get through tomorrow.
Another random yet exciting occurrence is that one of Joe’s roommates will be moving out of his apartment the first of December. I think Keia and I will probably move in, avoid having to pay a full month of rent at the pousada only to stay two weeks, get to see what it’s like being in an actual apartment for a couple of weeks, and have a laundry machine and air conditioning in-house!
I feel like I’m definitely missing some things from this post, but it s around 4am here and we have another full day tomorrow. I’m sorry that it’s been so long since my last one. I’ll catch back up after the trip and make sure to include anything I forgot!