This professional and cultural exchange was truly a once in a lifetime experience, where new friendships were formed, perspectives and perceptions shifted, social collaboration took place through community development, and personal and professional growth resulted. We immersed ourselves in the culture, learned common Portuguese phrases, sampled local cuisine, learned to ‘go with the flow,’ and became Brasileiros at heart. The relationships developed with client partners and the camaraderie built among members of the Brasil 13 team will last a lifetime.
Some of our most memorable moments include exploring Minas Gerais – weekend excursions to Ouro Preto and Inhotim, surprise birthday dinner party, Thursday samba nights, kilo lunches, churrascaria dinners, playing capoeira, sampling various pastéis, Timeline exercises with Bruno, nights out in Savassi, and weeknight bonding sessions by the pool.
Yesterday the #ibmcsc brazil 13 team had the final debrief meeting and it reminded me of the fact that I am already back for a month.
Time passed quickly and I think I am back at my “normal” routine.
The positive energy of Brazil, 15 new friends and all the experiences fades slowly, and the meeting was a great chance to refresh it by exchanging experiences of “coming back to the pre-CSC life”.
The following advice helped me a bit when I came back to Vienna:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
And I have to smile a lot these days, as I am sorting the over 7000 pictures we took… :)
I think we are very good at staying in touch using a private Facebook group and regular chats (and sometimes there are even birthday parties!), but we still miss Brazil and being together as a group. Nevertheless I am thankful for being part of the experience, and I am looking forward to the 2013 reunion, where we will meet up in Amsterdam and have a good time together.
As the last month was a once in a lifetime experience I had to extend the #ibmcsc brazil assignment for a few days to stay in Rio de Janeiro. While it was not easy to do that (7000USD for rebooking? Dear airline, are you serious about this offer?) I am glad it worked out.
We where quite a few people from the CSC team (66.7%) plus Crazy Bruno plus two husbands. So we knew people, even in Rio. And we randomly ran into them in Lapa or while sightseeing. The world is a town.
The time in Rio was too short and passed too quickly – we spent time on the beach, went to see Christ the Redeemer and Lapa… overall not a whole lot of sightseeing, but good time with friends. The final final dinner was just perfect, let me quote the Crazy Bruno:
This is the concept of love: friends, drinks and a good meal. Thanks friends!
As I said before, I’m glad I booked, it was a great time in Rio together with lovely friends!
Now that the #ibmcsc brazil assignment is unfortunately over (can you believe 4 weeks already passed by?) it is time for a quick wrap up post. But before I even start let me tell all IBMers to sign up now. If you are an IBMer keep yourself informed when the next CSC application cycle opens and simply sign up for it.
It is a once in a lifetime experience, so sign up for it. Now.
The four weeks in Brazil passed really quickly – we where 15 strangers from 12 different countries who never met before. We had weekly meetings on the phone for 3 month, but as I learned conference calls never ever can replace the experience of meeting others in person. The only thing we had in common prior the CSC assignment was that we all work for IBM and that we signed up for the CSC program. At the end of the 4 weeks in country experience we became close friends…
As I wrote before the CSC assignment is all about pushing you out of your comfort zone, there are new people in a new location and there is hardly any connection back home. To me the 4 weeks have been amazing, fast, wild, sometimes weird, fun and a lot of emotions. It is really hard to describe, but because of the location (Brazil is amazing!) and the people (#ibmcsc brazil: you are amazing!) the CSC assignment has been an once in a lifetime experience for me! I will never forget the Pastels, Marriah, the Trio Dinners, cooking at Joannes house, the pool parties….
And despite the fact that most of my blog posts have been about fun and weekend travel we have been in Brazil for work, not for fun. The four different clients however did a great job to show us their city and the Brazilian lifestyle, thanks! An eye-opener for most of our group has been to see how passionate the NGOs are about their work. We all have been truly impressed by the motivation behind the NGOs and by the impact their work has on society.
So what do I bring back home? First of all a few kilos more. The food was so delicious that I could not say “no” and the plate was always too full. Secondly I bring back a bag full of new friends. We as team went together trough the experience which glued us together. Lastly I bring back a lot of personal experiences, feelings and memories (and no, I do not only mean the 27GB of photos and videos that wait to be sorted!)…
The last month was very intensive, thanks to my company for having such an amazing program and allowing me being part of it!
To all of the amazing #ibmcsc brazil 13 team: cu soon & thanks to all of you for the once in a lifetime experience!
For reference, here is one of the official team songs:
On Thursday all four #ibmcsc brazil teams came together for the final project presentations. After introductions by the NGOs and a short coffee break with heated discussions the individual teams presented their work and their achievements over the last month.
Afterwards we went out for lunch with the NGO and did some wrap up with them… it was hard to say goodbye to all the people we spent the last month with, and it was also hard to leave the project… especially since we proposed an organizational change. Now it is their turn to actually implement those changes, and everyone of the four of us would love to see that change happening…
Friday we met up with Crazy Bruno to do a team wrap up… once again we did a timeline (details about that technique in a future post), this time our personal one and a team-timeline. While we where four teams and thus on four tracks it was interesting to see how much our experiences matched up in terms of ups and downs… The CSC Brazil 13 project was officially closed by an emotional “Brazilian lesson 2″, thank you Bruno for this experience!
If you believe the local bluster, there are 12,000 bars in the city, more per capita than anywhere else in the country.
Cachaça at Via Christina
Wherever you go you can get a good Caipirinha, even coffee houses serve them. At night people sit outside on the sidewalks, having one or two beers and meatsticks. If asked what the region is famous for the answer is “Cachaça“. And while you can basically get only a few brands back in Austria there seems to be an unlimited number of brands in Minas Gerais….
The team at Gamboa
So the team had the obligation to try as many bars and clubs as possible, right?
Soccer game with Lucas
We did certainly not visit all 12.000 of them (we tried, we tried! ), but in the bars we visited over the last four weeks we had a great time together! For example we danced Samba at Gamboa (twice!), shaked to the Beatles at the Lord Pub, and enjoyed a soccer game in the bar known as “Bar 18″ with Lucas. We had Pastels and tried to extend the opening hours…
This is our last day at work… we had the final presentation yesterday and a very productive workshop with our clients today. Tomorrow will be a final event together with all our clients, and on Friday there will be a wrap up session with Crazy Bruno. That’s it. #ibmcsc brazil will be over. Time flew by. Very fast.
Last day at work also means we have to go back home soon (after a stopover in Rio) – and I really wonder about how to integrate back into my “pre-CSC-life”. As I wrote before the CSC experience is about getting ourselves out of the comfort zone and adopting to a new culture. We did that, we lived and worked here for a month, we became friends. We made experiences together, and now we have to separate, going back home.
But how will it be? Will I be able to keep some of the calm, easy going Mike that I discovered here? How long will it last? How will work be back home – what happened while I have been away? Lots of questions….
… but I think I will figure out the answers very soon…
Last weekend we did not have any trips planned so we spent the time in Belo Horizonte. On Saturday we went to the central market buying food and souvenirs. We also had lunch there and finally relaxed at the park.
On Sunday we got up early and went to the Hippie Fair, a crowded market basically selling shoes, bags and jewelry at very low prices. Mainly for the girls – some bought 7 pairs of shoes. Afterwards we started having a late lunch, which directly faded into a fun night with a Beatles Cover Band at the Lord of Pub….
Overall the perfect Sunday and a very very enjoyable weekend with the #ibmcsc brazil team!