(Original essay by Joy Chen)
Note: Words in bold: Travel vocabulary and good descriptive phrases
To kick the June holidays off with a bang, let’s start by reading this vacation-themed model essay. In this piece, writer Joy Chen describes her trip to Brazil and utilizes a range of excellent descriptive phrases centered specifically around travel and sightseeing. Students can take a leaf out of her book (or rather, her essay) by paying close attention to the highlighted vocabulary and hereafter, employ them in their own writing wherever applicable.
There is also a clear flow to this piece. From the beginning, the writer presents us with a road map for her essay by highlighting two key areas of focus - soccer and celebration. She then zooms in on the Brazilian festival, Carnival. The writer often uses linking statements to effectively tie paragraphs to the ones that follow. The use of Capoeira as an example nicely bridges the two themes of celebration and sport, as it is both a performance art and a game. Finally, the conclusion ends off by bringing both sport and festival under the umbrella of Brazilian culture and identity. Instead of a mere summary of her earlier points, the writer reflects on and provides the reader with insight into her overall experience in Brazil.
It had always been my dream to travel to Brazil. As one of the largest countries in South America, Brazil is filled with great extremes. Within it, you will find not only sprawling modern cities but also poor rural villages and thick, uninhabited rain forests. Coming from a rich history of multiple origins, the ways of the Brazilian people are (1) manifold, but there are two things that never fail to unite them - soccer and celebration. As a true-blue soccer fan who also loves a good party, imagine my exhilaration when my cousin, Miguel, invited me to Rio de Janeiro for a visit!
Following Miguel’s advice, I landed in Brazil during one of the most exciting times of the country – the time of the carnival. Deeply ingrained within the Brazilian culture is the celebration of life, and this is most vividly (2) encapsulated in the annual festival known as carnival. I was absolutely thrilled to have been there during the six-day gala. Rio, along with the other major cities of Brazil, was transformed into a giant party place, with elaborate parades and performances around the clock. When we took to the streets of Rio to party, the air was already (3) effervescent with the sound of Samba.
As we danced the night away, I found myself fascinated by the intricacies of Samba. Said to be the (4) quintessential Brazilian music, Samba has its roots in African traditions with its distinctive percussive rhythms and guitar accompaniment. The (5) frenetic and infectious beats make Samba highly dynamic and spontaneous in nature. Unsurprisingly, everyone was dancing passionately, with plenty of hip-shaking, strutting, and arms flailing about. Even more amazingly, many women were performing these nimble moves in high heels.
Costumes are also a big part of the tradition and they are often handmade and unique. The designs vary wildly, with (6) motifs ranging from glittery peacock-like ornaments, to Indian-Chief headdresses and full-body feathered suits. Miguel and I were about the same size and I was thus able to borrow one of his pre-loved costumes. I was a little shy to be seen in public with feathers on my head and glitter on my body, but I soon blended in well with the rest of the ‘feathered’ crowd. The performers finished in a climax, striking a pose with their heads thrown back and their hands extended – ending their show fashionably and dramatically. The carnival was a whirlwind of delights and proved to be a multi-sensory experience that would be forever etched in my memory.
Another fascinating aspect of Brazilian performance is Capoeira, which is a martial art, a dance form and a game all rolled into one. Passed down through history via oral tradition, the sport is tied closely to the folklore of Brazilian history. Its practitioners are called Capoeirists, and when they spar, it is not referred to as a fight, but rather, a game. When Miguel pointed out a group of Capoeirists performing in the streets near his home, I noted that the sport was highly acrobatic, with many sweeping kicks, flips and somersaults incorporated into the Capoeirist’s (7) repertoire. Interestingly, there was music to accompany the fighting game. Apparently, Capoeira is never performed without its traditional music, and learning to play the exotic instruments is an essential part of the practice. Watching the (8) communal ritual of Capoeira, with its hypnotic rhythm, chanting and spectacular gymnastic feats, I was temporarily teleported to another world.
No soccer fan leaves Brazil without a game of soccer, the national pastime of Brazil. With five World Cup championships under their belt, Brazil is one of the world’s leaders in the sport. Soccer is a great source of national pride, and when football season approaches, a mania sweeps across the nation and its streets would be awash in a sea of green and yellow - Brazil’s national colours. During my stay, I enjoyed many impromptu games of street soccer with Miguel’s friends and sometimes, even strangers. After the game, we would go on to bond over the delicious local cuisine, savouring hearty stews and barbeques into the night. It is indeed true that the love of the sport brings people together.
My short stay has offered me a glimpse into the unique Brazilian identity and allowed me to enjoy the thriving culture of the Brazilian people and their love of life. The warmth of its people has made my stay a truly unforgettable one and I cannot wait to be back for more.
Extracted from Inspire, Issue 9, Article 1.