Sunday, January 13, 2008

Imagine a world where high school students spent their full senior year studying for the SAT. Imagine that this SAT is actually much harder than the SAT that you and I are familiar with, and if you don't study, you fail. Imagine that these high school seniors pay good money to take special prep courses, in addition to their normal studies, to increase their chances of passing. Imagine that this SAT will be specialized in some chosen subject, and before you begin college to become a doctor, lawyer, nurse, or teacher, you must prove to know enough about the subject to be admitted in the first place. Imagine that you are 17 years old with this kind of pressure. Imagine that the whole reason you are doing this is to study for free at the federal university.

Welcome to Brasil, my friends. The aforementioned "SAT" is actually the Vestibular. You get one shot each year to pass or not, and I got to observe firsthand the toil, stress, relief, heartbreak, and joy that accompanies this test. I had 5 friends take the test this year, 3 of whom passed. My friends missed retreats, went home early on weekends, woke up at 8 on Saturday mornings, gave up their Friday nights to take prep courses, all just to prepare. And only 3 passed.

So, of course, when people pass the Vestibular it's a big deal. It's not like the way I remember the day ACT/SAT scores came out and everyone just compared scores that night, thinking minimally about what kind of scholarship we would secure. We went on our merry way, knowing that if our score was lower than desired the test would be coming around again in a couple of months, and if our score was higher than expected we could put the dreaded test behind us for good.

No no, no no. The day the results come out for the Vestibular, there is no secret about it. Names pass by on the TV screen. If you're a girl, you shave half of one eyebrow then cover it with a Band-Aid and purposely go out in public so everyone knows you passed:

If you're a guy, your friends attack your hair with scissors so that you have no choice but to shave it all off. Then you purposely go out in public to show off as well:

So, where do I come in to all of this, other than being the only person who had a camera the day it all went down? I'll let you know, other than the people pass the Vestibular themselves and are able to enter the federal university at no cost, the friends are really the people who benefit from all the work. In a matter of one week, I have now been to two churrascos in honor of the test-passers. What's a churrasco? Only the single best barbecue you will ever attend in your life! All you can eat meat cooked over an open fire and served with the best Brazilian side dishes imaginable. Really, picture the barbecue of your dreams and then multiply it by about 13, and there you have the famous Brazilian churrasco.

So, thanks, Caio and Fernanda. All your hard work has put meat in my belly and a smile on my face. Oh, and congratulations, too! :)

P.S. I sent out my most recent newsletter yesterday. If you are not on my email list but would like to be, let me know!


Anonymous said...

Hey Cris! Just catching up on your blog and thought I'd say hi! Looks like you are doing well! Have fun, we're praying for you!
~Lauren Jacoby

Anonymous said...

Well I hadn't been keeping up with my blog readings but I just caught myself up on all I missed in the past month in your life. Sounds like fun! I can't believe that Vestibular thing is so crazy. I'm glad I live in America where we take dumb tests :) haha. Ok well Hopefully I'll get to talk to you soon on Google Chat! Love you!