By Isabella Richter de Medeiros
About two months ago, my mom and I went to my high school’s counselor to talk about homeschooling and credits. We wanted to make sure that, even though I would be homeschooled for a year, I would graduate with my Class of 2017. With the way it worked out with the meeting, I was able to get set up with three online classes, totaling in 2.5 credits for this year: one year of Algebra, one year of PE (a state graduation requirement), and one semester of Health (also a state graduation requirement). Usually, one would accumulate at least 6 credits per year. So, next year, I’ll have to do my school’s Running Start program, which will allow me to catch up on all my credits and graduate with my class.
The online program is pretty straightforward; for math, Heather and I log on, take about an hour and a half to do the lesson and take notes, then I take about another hour to take the quiz and/or do the assignment. The downside to this system is that it’s incredibly time-consuming, which is especially difficult when we have unreliable wi-fi (which is almost always). I’m currently a little behind in math, and a large part of staying in Brazil for so long will be frantically catching up in the courses.
The unfortunate situation is that I get to have this incredible educational experience of traveling the world for a year, and that I get no school credit for it. Granted, I get life credit, but the school system doesn’t really care about that. What’s necessary is the certified piece of paper.
My parents strongly believe in the necessity of education. Both my brother and I are expected to try very hard in school, which results in good grades, and attend university. However, we believe that education goes far beyond grades and degrees. You can have a 5.0 GPA and seven thousand different degrees, and still be completely oblivious to the world. Traveling, immersing in other cultures, and making observations as to how different people in different places live their lives is very important to our education. Whenever we travel, we try to stay in apartments as opposed to hotels in order to try to live in the culture, we try very hard to speak the language of the country we’re in, and we learn about the history and culture of the places as well. We visit museums, cultural sites, monuments, etc., and we try to learn a little bit about those areas and their cultural significance.
This is the most important part of our homeschooling, or actually, road-schooling. By learning about the places we stay, we become more aware of how the world works, and how everything relates to each other. We’re able to point out cultural differences, and we learn to get past any preconceived notions of the country and culture we’re in. A large part of the reason we decided to take this trip is to be able to become more truly aware of other cultures, and to get out of our own little world bubble.
One of the things that is really important to me and my personal education is the fact that we’re staying in Brazil for three whole months. When I’m in the US, I say that I’m Brazilian. But the only thing making me Brazilian is my Brazilian passport and the fact that I speak Portuguese. I’ve never lived in Brazil, and while I understand a large amount of cultural aspects, I feel like I understand those aspects as an outsider looking in. My mom is more culturally Brazilian than me, and she’s not even actually Brazilian. I’m really excited to live in Brazil for a while, and potentially go to school, so that I can build on that part of my identity. I’m thinking about going to university in Brazil in a few years, and feeling that I’ll be able to become at least a little bit more actually Brazilian is really important to my own education on this trip.