Editors’ Note: Match writer Mariana Cavalcanti de Castro will be returning to her native Brazil at the conclusion of the semester, and here in her last Match piece she reflects fondly on her time at Collegiate.
The word “saudade” comes from the Latin word “solitatem,” which means solitude. It is originally from around 1300, when Portuguese men first started to travel through the sea at the dawn of the Age of Sail and were missing their homes and families. “Saudade” is a noun that means the feeling of missing someone or something that you love, and it is exclusively Portuguese. No other word in any other language can express the feeling of missing something or someone you love so perfectly. And it is “saudades” that I’m going to feel from Richmond, Collegiate, my American family, and everyone who has made my stay in the United States the best it could have been.
Before coming to Collegiate, I was frightened. As a very introverted person, I was afraid of not having any friends, or maybe having to change who I am in order to have them. I was afraid of the kinds of teachers I was going to have and the type of society that I was getting into, as opposed to my hometown, Sete Lagoas, in Brazil. I’m overjoyed to find out that it wasn’t me who had to change; it was Collegiate that changed me, for the better. When I look back to August when I first got here, I’m impressed to see how much I’ve grown in only four months.
Collegiate has changed me in many ways. I’ve learned how to listen to other people’s opinions, even when it goes against everything that I believe. I’ve learned to be more sociable; asking people that I have never talked to in my life if I could sit with them during lunch was a challenge, and I’m glad I went through it. I’ve learned to be in the company of people completely different from me and love them with all my heart. I’ve grown as a person, as a friend, as a student, and as a girl who is in love with life. And my passion for different cultures has increased in a way I never thought possible.
However, Collegiate have ruined one thing for me: my will to come back to Brazil and deal with my last — and hardest — year of high school. Next year for me is going to be made up of long days studying hard to pass the final Brazilian National High School Exam, and the grade decides if and where I’m going to college. Whenever people ask me if I’ve been homesick, I answer yes. I miss my mom and my dad more than anything, my four beautiful dogs, my house, my bedroom, and the Brazilian weather. But, still, I wish I could stay here at Collegiate. The campus looks like a college campus, and there’s no better atmosphere to study than the Commons. The theater is just a dream to whoever has a passion for theater, like me, but never had the opportunity to participate in it. I’m still impressed with all the students’ talents: in music, theater, drawing, and the arts in general. I wish Brazilian education took art as seriously as Collegiate does. I also wish classes could be as dynamic in Brazilian schools as they are here. Talking, discussing, thinking, and producing is the best way to learn, a concept I am sure of after studying, learning, and actually creating things on my own during these four months of school. I’m absolutely in love with the way Collegiate deals with polemical and delicate issues, and how all students have the right and are encouraged to talk as much as they want about anything, as long as they don’t offend anyone. I couldn’t be more proud to have studied in a school with such a diverse community and open-minded people.
And I’ll miss every single part of it.
I’ll miss the feeling of eating in McFall, just like in an American movie. And Homecoming, which couldn’t have felt more like a movie. I’ll miss being able to grab a school computer whenever I need to do some work and calling my mom while sitting in the halls and looking at people’s faces when they hear me speaking in rapid Portuguese. I’ll miss saying “Hi” to Mr. Brian Justice (Upper School history) every time I pass in front of his classroom. I’ll especially miss Mr. Justice’s religion class, and Charlotte Marshall’s (’19) pertinent questions that always lead to great discussions. I’ll miss all of my wonderful teachers and amazing classes. I’ll miss political discussions in Mr. Brad Cooke’s (Upper School history) Dictators class (even though everyone was tired of talking about politics, I was amazed to listen to everything). I’ll miss stopping U.S. history class to discuss random (but very important) subjects, and Aidan Mickleburgh (’18) talking so much that Mr. Nate Jackson (Upper School history) had to forbid him from being the first one to say anything.
I’ll really miss Mrs. Shayna Cooke’s Forensics class, all the SVU episodes, and the crazy and very sad “hot topics” about crimes that we needed to present every block period. It was the first time I actually enjoyed anything related to biology, even though I still struggle with the microscope. I’ll miss all the laughs, the long and random conversations, Madeleine George (’19) eating her cereal in the classroom, and all the fun I had in Technical Theater Class. I need to thank Mr. Steve Perigard and Mr. Zach Townsend (Upper School theater) for not losing their patience with me for only memorizing the name of all the cables, objects, and tools one day before the quiz. I’ll miss more than anything my free period playing capitalism with Jasmine Harper’s (’17) cards, complaining about the cold whether with Taylor Ryckman (’18), and learning how not to say a bad word when trying to say a normal word with Connor Ferwerda (’17) and Austin Tyner (’18) (until Julie Miller asked us to stop).
I’m already missing Brunch (and I know it was the best Brunch ever, even though it was the only Brunch I’ve ever participated in), the whistle mornings, the crazy sleepover, putting presents and cards in my senior, Emily Stallings’ (’17), locker, and all the junior girls. I’ll miss Dr. Rebecca Hottman’s (Upper School science) advisory and all the confessions we’ve made to each other. I’ll miss every friend that I’ve made so far, and every experience that I’ve lived. And, with all my heart, I’ll miss my Writing for Publication class with Mr. Vlastik Svab’s (Upper School English) great sense of humor. My love for writing has just grown with the class, and I’m so proud of being able to google my name and see all the articles I’ve written. I’m grateful to be part of the Match crew, and I know it will help in my career goal of being journalist.
However, what I’m probably going to miss the most is the delicious big chocolate cookie in the Cafe that I’m sure you have seen me eating at least once. They have made my days better.
I haven’t mentioned half of the things that I’m going to miss about Collegiate, and I wish I could talk about every single person that has put a smile on my face and made everything special for me. If you have been part of my Collegiate experience, even if we have talked only once, know that you are forever in my heart. Thank you all for the best four months that I could ask for. I’m very grateful for every moment and every person that have passed through my life. I’m coming back to Brazil being a much more mature girl with plenty of love and “saudades” in my heart.
Featured image by Mariana Cavalcanti de Castro.