Teaching Traveling: There are all kinds of ways to be a “Teacher Traveler.” Meet Luiz, also known as Mister Brazil! Luiz, tell us about yourself.
MB: I’m from Buzios, a paradise peninsula with 23 gorgeous beaches, just 90 miles north of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am a 45 year old with an academic background in Portuguese and literature and post grad in in business with an extra course with a focus on Brazilian tourism. I began working in Buzios at the city hall in administration where I learned a lot about the inner politics and workings of a town. I also worked at area hotels where I got a good look what makes for a good hotel experience. My parents continue to work at a large luxury hotel in Buzios. I have now been in Columbia, South Carolina for the past eleven years. Besides my travel business, I work with students at the University of South Carolina, particularly at the Wesley Foundation. We take students on mission trips of various lengths both in the state and nationally but also to many countries all over the Americas, and even to Africa.
TT: Wow! Tell us about some of the interesting travels you have done and how they have impacted you.
MB: Coming to the USA for the first time was a fascinating and formative trip. It was my first international trip, and I joined a group of 17 young people for an educational and cultural journey. First, we had received students from South Carolina in Rio and also in my home in Buzios, and then six months later we visited the US and the students who we had hosted, then they hosted us for the same kind of trip. On that first trip to the USA I knew that I had discovered my passion for traveling and learning about other people and cultures. There was no turning back. That experience opened my mind, my ears and my eyes. Mister Brazil discovered the world.
The second awesome experience (of course, there were many in different countries) was in 2014 in South Africa. It was a dream come true to discover a part of this amazing continent. We worked in Howick in two schools for children under 16, most of whom lived in terrible conditions of poverty and abuse in one of the semi-formal settlements on the side of a ravine on the edge of town. The schools are funded by a small Methodist church in that town and a large church in the USA in the hopes that these children can escape the poverty and hard life that surely they will have without a good education. Even though apartheid officially ended in 1994, the effects are still greatly felt by many blacks. There is still great disparity. But on a more positive note, the beauty of South Africa is incredible. The sunsets leave you speechless, and how amazing it is to go on safari and see animals right there beside you, free and not in a zoo! I don’t have words and can’t describe the emotions I felt in places like that. I want to return as soon as possible.
TT: Amazing. How did you find these travel opportunities?
MB: Growing up in Buzios, an international tourist paradise spot, we received people from all over the world every day. We just met people on the beach, in the bars and restaurants and always made new friends. Many of these friends invited me to visit them in their homes in Europe, South America and in the USA.
In my own home in Buzios, my parents and I have probably received more than 1000 foreign visitors since 1991. There have been many groups from universities, friends, friends of friends, churches, and the list goes on. Everybody wants to visit Buzios. I guess my home was ahead of Couchsurfing, AirBnB, etc. But we never thought of it as a business, but rather we were just sharing with brothers and sisters from all over the world. My mom is very connected to the church and she always told me, “Remember. What we do for people here, others will do for you. God will open doors for you also. She knew that I would be flying everywhere like a bird. So I embraced my mom’s attitude and followed her example and I also always invite people to stay at our home. I meet many people and it is easy and enjoyable for me to travel and visit them in their homes.