What happens when a Missoula author uproots his entire family and lives in a remote Brazilian town for a year? Peter Stark, who wrote At the Mercy of the River and The Last Empty Places, details the highs and lows of such an adventure in a new article for Outside magazine.
It’s precisely this—overcoming the challenges of living abroad—that opens the way to some of its deepest rewards. To connect at the most human level, in any relationship, one must dispense with emotional armor plating and cultural cocksureness and not be afraid to be vulnerable. In small-town northeastern Brazil, we had no idea what we were doing, and everyone knew it. This made us vulnerable not only to being taken advantage of, but also, and much more frequently, to acts of incredible kindness and warmth from Brazilians who barely knew us and were often less well-off than we were. Transcending culture and language, these human connections will always stay with us. This is how our children have learned empathy.
Living in Missoula, you get the impression there are few better places to connect with a community and maybe raise a family. Reading Stark's story, you're reminded to broaden that perspective—and tempted to try and figure out how to pull off a year abroad.