September 22, 2013

Visit to Rede Vida Studios.

Uncle D. he's so cute.
Studio whose name I forgotted.
As I mentioned in my last post, my super fabulous uncle let me tag along with him as he and a couple of his coworkers spent an afternoon in São Paulo in two TV studios in order to promote a new line of health products. I was able to get a peek at behind the scenes work and "ahhhhh" it was thrilling. (Communication students get easily excited by this stuff.)

I got to stand behind the crew and before that I got to sneak around the host's studio and stare at everything. It was pretty cool. I'm a curious person, so to be able to have the whole room for me to look around and discover was pretty exciting.

What did I get from the experience? So much, but here are 10 things that you might already know but were confirmed to me during my visit:

1. TV people are super busy.

2. TV people are people. They are super people, but still people.

3. TV studios are amazingly versatile. One medium-sized studio can become six sets.

4. There might be a lot of glamour on TV but behind the scenes it's simply a lot of hard work.

5. Some people are born to be on TV–born to arrive and host.

6. Others are born to crack the whip and keep everything going on time and on schedule.

7. Others are born to provide what the host will say, others to film, others to answer phones and e-mails and others to watch. Thing is, everyone has their part.

8. What happens to all the food that appears on TV as props? It goes out into the hallway with little plates and anyone passing by can take some. So you can walk down the hall and boom! fresh fruit banquet. Nom.  

9. Trays with wheels. Lots of them. All the time. Everywhere. When one comes in another goes out to get set up and then it goes back in and switches places with the other tray and so on.

10. TV is an incredibly fast paced environment. Not only is everything timed and things must air, start and stop on time, but the content that is presented has to be content that will only be discovered next week, however the media has to be onto it already.

Have you ever visited a studio? Are you in the TV business or know someone who is? Would you agree with my 10 things or did I miss something?

September 10, 2013

São Paulo, Brazil.

      This year I had the opportunity to shadow my uncle (the owner of a health food store chain) around downtown São Paulo, Brazil while he went around his business errands. He's currently investing on advertising on TV a new product that he (along with his wife, a nutritionist) co-created with a lab.

     Every once in a while he goes on air and promotes the products himself. During the last day that I would be spending in Brazil this summer, he would be going on air and he invited me to go visit the set with him.

     As a Communications student, arriving on set was an enormous thrill and the only damper on the whole day was the fact that each exciting thing that happened was a moment closer to the end of my stay with these wonderful people in this wonderful place.

     For the most part I was able to put those feeling aside and marvel at what I could see around me. I wasn't sure where to look first, what to observe first, what to take in first... until we got to downtown São Paulo where the studios are. I've always loved staring and admiring buildings. I'm almost sure 'architecture' would be a more technical term, however, then you might think I know what I'm talking about. Which I don't. When it comes to 'architecture' appreciation, all I know is what I like.

     What I like can normally be summed into one word: old. I love the look of worn and weathered buildings that seem to be sagging underneath the load of stories they have to tell, the eras they have seen, the people they have known and the gossip and events they have heard and witnessed. I like buildings with moldings and frames, crevices that hold whispered stories, cracks and peeling paint that screams of brighter days. I like fountains and tree archways, old train stations, clock towers, old hotel windows with shutters and even tasteful graffiti very much.

     While architecture isn't an area of art that I'm familiar with, I can't help but admire it and have a growing interest for it. What about you? Have you ever seen a building that caught your eye and inspired your admiration? What aspects do you enjoy seeing? Are buildings eye candy for you?

   In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "...architecture [is] frozen music..."

September 5, 2013

The Invisible Man and the Girl Who Saw Him.

If looking for other writing samples, please click here (personal essay) and here (editorial written for Youth Messenger).
     No matter how diverse their cultures and where they are located on the world map, most cities have at least some things in common. One of the most common constants is the existence of a group of people we have named, "the homeless". Different cities have different methods to attempt a "solution" to the amount of individuals that linger on the outskirts of towns or mingle in the throngs of people walking downtown and who occasionally come up to us and ask for change. 

     Brazilian cities are no different, except, perhaps, in the amount of individuals that refuse to hide, rather who make a living by begging and placing themselves in strategic locations where the public passes by so their pleas may have a greater chance of being heard and answered. It is fact that if you walk downtown in most cities, you can observe these individuals either laying down in alleyways, against buildings, under benches or walking among the multitude of shoppers and sellers. Most of the time we observe but ignore because of the uncomfortableness of the situation.

These are people who ask for help, but only the kind they want not the kind we believe they need. Shelters, homes, even jobs and education are available, but that would mean conforming to rules and standards such as curfews and showers, responsibility and meals at specific times. Yet the question that keeps nagging us is, "are we right to ignore them?" They want money. We have our suspicions and don't want to feed their addictions. 

Last week I was one in the multitude that paced frantically from one store to another downtown Presidente Prudente in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, in hopes of buying everything I "needed" to purchase before the stores closed. As I wrapped up my shopping and was on my way to the car, I witnessed something that made me think of this exact topic. A homeless man, wrapped in blankets and his belongings somewhat scattered closely around him had chosen to sit down in the middle of the walking area between the buildings of commerce. There he leaned against a pole and settled himself. He was invisible to everyone, including myself. He was simply another vagrant that was probably going to beg soon so I should change my course and avoid him. In my hurry to get things done and obtain, obtain, obtain... The thought of what I could give didn't even cross my mind. 

Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a little blur. A girl around seven years old with a head full of curls was running out of a store. She hopped outside and slowed her steps, and I noticed what she had in her hand. She was unwrapping a piece of candy. As she came out of the store and closer to the man, she cocked her head and slowly rewrapped the candy. Without a second of hesitation she approached the man without fear, without disdain, without anything but an outstretched arm and a candy in her fingers. The man took the candy with a smile that lit up his face and blessed* her. She smiled and hopped back to join her mother outside the store. 

I have been pondering this topic since then and have come to the conclusion that ignoring individuals is never the solution. Although the little girl's sweet act (pun intended) didn't change the man's situation nor did it solve the fact that so many people live on the streets in dire conditions, but it changed that man's day and, if her act of solidarity filled me with hope and made my day, I'm sure it brightened his. Maybe instead of being overwhelmed with the task of solving a worldwide issue, what we're meant to do is better the world around us. How does it go again? Oh yeah, "The ocean is made of little drops of saltwater and after all..."

*It is a Brazilian custom for the elderly to bless those younger than themselves. Children are taught to greet their elders with "bless me" to which their aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents will respond with "God bless you".

September 2, 2013

Learning to Navigate Through a Flood of Words

       The first day of COMM writing class our Professor asked us to brainstorm for five minutes. Write anything down that came to mind when asked this question: "What is one of your earliest memories regarding reading or writing?" We then polished and finished these essays in later classes. This is what I came up with.

At the age of four my favorite storybook was a children's Bible; I would constantly pester my mother to read it to me. After she had read it to me numerous times, I finally memorized the story of Noah.
My mother is a stay-at-home mom who, from the beginning, took time to teach us no matter what she was doing – including cooking. One morning I followed her into the kitchen where she was preparing lunch. Both my arms were preoccupied with the chunky illustrated Bible, but my little head was pondering where best to sit. I clumsily scooted my book across the counter.
I decided to climb onto the counter. From here I could observe the twinkle on the steel pots as the sun tickled them. Here I was close to my mother. Satisfied, I opened up my book and turned to my favorite story – Noah. Little did I know I had chosen the place where I would begin an adventure that would last me a lifetime.
The smells of rice, beans, and fresh baked bread interweaved in the air and the mystery of words began to unweave itself. My fingers traced under the words and I read them out loud for my mother's approval or help. Suddenly, things began to sink in and make sense. I felt like Helen Keller must have felt the first time she understood that words were linked to objects. Likewise, I understood that these sets of letters, which until now had simply been pesky prints that took up precious room on the illustrated pages, were linked to the sounds we make when we speak.

     I could recognize the letters! I could understand what sounds to make! I could identify the words!
I was thrilled with this realization, as was my mother, but it was a fleeting thrill that lasted only until I turned the page. I had not memorized the story of the tower of Babel and these new groups of letters were foreign to me. Frustrated, I now wanted my mother to read me the story of Babel so I could memorize it too. She refused.
Instead she patiently turned the page back and asked me to point out the words I could recognize from Noah's story. Then we flipped the page and I found the same words in the story of Babel. Word by word I began to understand that the sounds in one word could be readjusted to form new words. I now had my first taste of literary addiction.
From then on reading became a happy part of my life. It wasn't always smooth going and sometimes when reading out loud in church disciples became "dis-ciples" and spirits became Sprite. But learning to read is a process I look back on with fondness and I am very thankful I got the chance to experience it.

I loved going back and remembering how I began to read. Now I invite you to share.. what are some of your earliest memories with reading or writing.. or maybe another early memory?

September 1, 2013

The Seven Cities of Cíbola.

In 1540, the Spanish were making claims in the New World and were fervently exploring Mexico. The Native Indians, however, were not happy about these foreigners taking their land and wealth. So perhaps to rid themselves of the adventurers, they distracted the Spaniards with the legend of the Seven Cities of Cíbola. 

Cíbola was a “city of gold” full of treasures beyond imagination and far, far away from the Indian’s clay villages. The Spaniards had come to increase the riches of Spain, and now the promise of wealth lay just ahead in these golden cities! So, led by Francisco de Coronado, three hundred Spaniards and hundreds of captive Indians went forward to search for these fictitious cities.

On and on they wandered for two years before Coronado and his army finally realized they had been fooled.

The Devil tries to distract us with modern Cíbolas, too. He makes things look fun that actually have very bad consequences. Sometimes he camouflages his Cíbolas in good things, like buying a new car. Cars aren’t bad-a car is a useful invention. Yet, is it really a good thing, when you have to work on Wednesday nights, and skip prayer meetings to pay for a newer more expensive car? Is a new house really necessary when it forces you to put in more hours at work, cramming your devotions into five minutes of hasty reading or one breath prayers? Check your goals and see if maybe they aren’t among them some Cíbolas, and if they’re not mere distractions. 

Coronado dragged his men over three-thousand miles before he realized he had been tricked. Don’t wait until it’s to late to wake up and see you have been fooled! Don’t fall for the Devil’s myths. Don’t waste three-thousand miles in the wrong direction. Rather, “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Stay focused; watch out for any Cíbolas in your life. Don’t get distracted and lose sight of God so you won’t lose the chance to arrive at the true City of Gold, Heaven.

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