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Beyond Brazil… A year on with an unmissable opportunity!

Beyond Your World: Look out for more amazing opportunities offered to young Journalist to report on social development issues

On the 10th of January 2014 at 16.26 I pressed a button that could change my student life forever!

As a mature student aged 28, it won’t be long before I will can no longer apply for opportunities given to young people (18-30). Time isn’t on my side, and in many ways, I’m feeling the pressure. So with this in mind, and just 34 minutes before the 17.00 deadline, I said a short prayer then clicked the send button to submit my application to for the “Beyond Brazil – Brasil Além” project.

This is an opportunity I can’t afford to miss!

I could be one of the 3 young journalist chosen from the UK to report on Brazil as the eyes of the world look to Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup 2014! I’ve never believed in myself more than I do right now that I am a suitable candidate for this project! I might have my ongoing struggles with the academic system, but when I’m on the field – away from the lecture room – that’s when I discover my true potential. Perhaps it’s fate that this time last year I found myself in Brazil on a journey of self-discovery and self-worth… A year on, I’m submitting an application to report on social development issues that will be sidelined as the World Cup takes centre stage in Brazil…

Here’s my own journey a year ago… Beyond Brazil

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A stroll through the iconic Copacabana beach… In Brazil, I observed the good, the bad, and the things tourists aren’t meant to see…

In October 2013, I got a phone call from an administrator at my University informing me I could no longer continue with the the 2nd Year of my course – despite successfully enrolling weeks prior. I thought my world would come crushing down. I wondered once again if this was a sign that university wasn’t for me after all.

But before I let my demons settle in, I thought of a way to use the time I hand on my hands until the unit I failed started again the following year.

So I booked a ticket to Brazil!

For 3 months I worked my reporting skills, writing my observations regularly in my blog, interviewing locals, and making small photography projects. I was even granted a press pass to cover the Carnival in Bahia, where I met Spike Lee filming his documentary “Go Brazil Go!”

I accomplished so much in a short space of time, unaided and without fear of judgement from the exam board!

My journey to self-discovery started with Counting my blessings and subtracting failure. Once I came to terms with this, I could move on and make the most of my time in this amazing yet challenging country.

Here are some of my observations on social issues, reviews and projects I blogged about:

Maid in Rio I got a taste of the harsh reality of many working class Afro-Brazilians as I offered to go to work with my friend Patricia, from the humble suburbs of Nova Iguaçu to the upper class apartments of Copacabana

Kai Li’s Tabom project An introduction to an on-going project I have been working on from 2010. I have since traced my ancestry, and learnt about my ancestor who left Salvador, Bahia as a single mother to return to the ‘unknown’ for a better life, after the Male Revolt of 1835… Her strength and courage resides in me!

Another diaspora This was the beginning of my project to interview and share the stories of Africans living and working in Central.

Tour Guide to Rio de Janeiro I feel like I know Rio like the back of my hand now… Well at least all the places marked in the guide book thanks to an exclusive tour by Rodrigo Pires I tagged along to with Italian travel journalist, Alberto Corpo!

Central Street Success: Kwei Henry, bar owner from Ghana

Central Street Success: Kwei Henry, bar owner from Ghana

Central Street Success My photography project of 7 Africans making a living for themselves on the streets on Central. What does ‘home’ mean you you? Each one had a simple answer to offer.

A lighter shade of Black I was inspired to write about my personal observations of Brazil whilst I chatted to a friend on Facebook. How could I describe to him that despite all the wonders he had heard of Brazil being a ‘rainbow nation’, racism lurks in its illusion… Many would could it ‘classism’. A rose by any other name, is still a rose – even if it doesn’t smell as sweet! Denying that racism doesn’t exist isn’t helping society.

This post is still one of my most viewed on my travel blog. It was written just two weeks into my three-month stay… Written freely. How I felt that very moment – from pen to paper.

I saw this a thought – wow! When a picture of a Black woman on the cover of a magazine grabs my attention to make me think “wow”, there is something not quite right. Brazil has the largest population of black people after Nigeria, yet the media and many aspects of society doesn’t represent this percentage.

Curves of Architecture Niemeyer’s legacy is still evident in Brazilian society. I interviewed Italian Architect Sergio Giogini during his visit to one’s of Niemeyer’s most renowned master pieces and popular tourist site; Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niteroi.

Fears of a Travel Addict I questioned my right a wo(mb)man, traveller and where exactly children will fit in…

Press stop – Pelourinho! I got my press pass to cover the Carnival in Bahia… My dream of experiencing carnival in Brazil – achieved! I met Maira Araújo; the social media coordinator for the Secretary of Culture of Bahia at the press office and she shared with me a few social media tips! Also check out Maira’s List: top 5 places to visit in Salvador!

Spike Lee in Maragojipe carnival!

Spike Lee in Maragojipe carnival!

Spike Lee captures carnival in Maragojipe! Accidentally meeting Spike Lee in Maragojipe 50km away from Bahia’s main carnival it’s capital Salvador just goes to show great minds think alike – we both happened to be covering the carnival of this small town! Go Brazil Go is the documentary Spike Lee was filming in Brazil. It’s due to be released in June. Look out for it!

Carnival da Bahia – Ouro Negro If you choose to be in Salvador for carnival, then you’ll experience black gold with the Pelourinho circuit!

Lesson learnt:

Never allow an F from an exam board to mean you are a failure! Like myself, you might feel frustrated with the educational system, but if you persevere in what you’re passionate about and gain experience outside the lecture room, you should find self-fulfilment at the least! See the motivational video I made last summer – Think outside the box (of the lecture room).

You can find out more about my experiences in Brazil on my travel blog Travel Making Kai!

Have you made a trip that has been life changing? Please share!

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