Iracambi Atlantic Rainforest Research Center
Iracambi Can Be A Great Experience, It Depends On You
Submitted by Sap - | March 30, 2013
Iracambi is definitely what you make of it.
Research, research, research all aspects of your trip before you go, and unless you already speak brazilian portuguese fluently, study twice as much as you think you need to. You may find yourself in the airport, having been fairly confident in your basic language abilities, only to find you barely understand anyone, and they think the same of you.
Beforehand it is probably best to go with 1-2 main interests in mind, whether it's the tree nursery, creating trails, local social issues, documenting wildlife, gis, etc, and formulate some kind of research question or goal for each. Don't expect to complete or answer them, but try to, and it will make your experience that much better.
Though Binka, Robin, Toni, and whichever coordinator is there at the time will certainly be helpful, Iracambi expects a degree of independence from its volunteers, so aspects such as cultural immersion, academics, and 'adventure' all depend on you.
No matter what you do, the trip is worthwhile: I learned a lot from my time there, and even now some of the data collection (not to mention travelling and communication) skills I learned at Iracambi come back to aid me once in awhile. Good luck!
This depends what your interests are and what you hope to get out of volunteering. There is plenty of literature at Iracambi to supplement whatever you're doing, and you may learn new research and data collecting skills that may come back to aid you later, especially if you're studying for a degree in the ecological sciences.
This depends on a few things: who is staying with you; how much portuguese you know before you go and how much you put into learning while you are there; and whether or not you venture into town or interact with non-volunteers inside and outside of Iracambi. In effect, this depends entirely on the person, and for some the only immersion they'll feel is on the journey from the airport to Iracmabi.
It depends on who you're with and if you go into town or into one of the cities. Ask if there will be other volunteers and where they come from/ what they are hoping to do before you go.