The lives of the Texas Woman’s University volleyball players have been forever changed after their two week long trip to Brazil at the end of June. Packed full of culture and color, Brazil welcomed the Pioneers for an experience like no other.
Volleyball, being an international sport, looks different in Brazil than it does in America. While on their trip, the volleyball team competed in games against Brazilian teams in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro using international volleyball rules. A total of five games were played by the Pioneers: three in São Paulo and two in Rio de Janeiro. The team also got to practice with the International Volleyball Hall of Famer Bernardo “Bernardinho” Rezende.
“He’s very technical,” Senior Outside Hitter Lexi Williams said. “He stopped the practice to talk about what was wrong and what was right. It was slower than most of our practices, but it was very informative.”
The team, being a part of a service-oriented department, made sure to participate in acts of service during their time abroad. The Pioneers volunteered at Anglo-Americano, a bilingual school once attended by TWU Assistant Coach Luiza Andrade.
“It was my favorite part of the trip,” Freshman Outside Hitter Eduarda Durta said. “We helped the coach to teach volleyball for kids between nine and 14 years old. It was just extremely rewarding … I wish they [the volleyball team] would understand Portuguese just to listen to what they were saying about us.”
Besides service and athletics being the main objectives of this time abroad, exposure to culture and language were equally important according to TWU Athletics. The lively Brazilian culture was experienced and embraced by the young athletes, making them realize the importance of open-mindedness and acceptance. According to Williams, the Pioneers tried to respect and embrace Brazilian culture.
“My life will forever be changed after that trip because the people and the culture…the way that they love and like are just so happy,” Williams said. “I would have never been able to experience that if I did not fully embrace everything,”
This journey was a particularly extraordinary experience for those on the team who are originally from Brazil. Student-athletes Eduarda Dutra and Luna França, as well as Assistant Coach Luiza Andrade, were given the opportunity to share their home with the ones they love.
“Being able to show my country and my language and my culture and my costumes and my family to them was just amazing,” Dutra said. “I felt like everybody was just so grateful to be able to see that and experience new things.”
Photo credits: Lexi Williams
Hannah Everett can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.