From Fiji to Papua New Guinea to Samoa then on to Rio! Ms. Kathleen Leewai, the Publications and Communications Intern at SPREP is attending her first international environment conference - the Rio+20, this has been made possible with support from PACMAS, SPREP and Conservation International Pacific Island Program. Born and raised in Fiji, Kathleen has lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia and now in Samoa at SPREP where she works as the Publications and Communications Intern. This is Kathleens first time outside of the Pacfic region, read about her experiences!
From the time of arrival Rio de Janeiro has been an eye-opener. In some ways it is so much like the Pacific Islands, and in some ways it’s as far from island life as you can get.
The first culture shock was seeing fully armed policemen stationed outside the airport. That is definitely not something you see every day in the Pacific.
The people are friendly but it has been difficult understanding the language. The people of Brazil speak Portuguese, and they speak it very fast. But they are laid back and everyone wears flip-flops, so that’s been familiar. They also drive very fast and are crazy for their soccer (of course).
The view from our apartment is breathtaking; at night the city lights shine brightly with tall dark mountains as a backdrop. We’re staying next to a small lake and were able to take a short boat ride across to what we’ve been told is the biggest mall in Brazil. It was packed, and very busy considering it was a Sunday night.
All-in-all, my first night in Brazil was filled with lights and sounds of a bustling city. It’s exciting being here and knowing that tomorrow morning we are going to the convention centre (Riocentro) to register for the conference. But more on that tomorrow.