Friday, May 22, 2009

Ups and downs

Hi all,

Andre, a student we met at a school called Padreira, sent me this link after he read on my blog that I like live music. It`s a video of he (on the left) and his friend playing classical music on electric guitars. Pretty darn impressive if you ask me. Thanks for sharing, Andre! Enjoy!

Last night, I was able to talk to my parents and Stephen for a good bit. My dad had surgery on his back yesterday, so he stayed in the hospital last night. He`s doing ok, just trying to recover. As my mom said, the recovery is always harder than what you think it will be. So keep him and my mom in your prayers. Stephen only has one day of school left (today) - lucky dog. Then he gets two weeks off before starting summer school, which will be pretty intense for a month. It was so great to talk to them even if it was only for 10 minutes.

I never imagined that this trip would be such an emotional rollercoaster ride. I`ve seen such wonderful things that people are doing for other people, but then one minute later, I see tragedy. A couple of days ago, I saw a man hanging out of a window in a hospital gown. I could see the arms of those trying to save him coming from out of the window either. I`ll never know what ended up happening to him or what made him to this. Then yesterday, I saw the body of a man killed on a motorcycle. I saw his shoes, his jeans, his forehead. I know this happens in America too, but I never thought about these same things happening around the world at the same time. The Brasilian people are so beautiful, but by that I mean they are kind, open and eager to live life. It is hard to to think about such tragedy happening to them.

Anyway last night I met Lothar and Wanda`s goddaughter, Julia. She is precious. I gave her two coloring books about Louisiana. It was wonderful - I would point to a picture and she would tell me in Portuguese what it was.

Alright, gotta go downstairs and wait for the van. I miss you all!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oi from Ariej and I

Hi all,

This is a joint post by myself and my fellow member Ariej:

We're living like true Brasilians. Last night, we partied at a marathon Rotary meeting until 12 am - it was an induction for a new club. Then we were told to be ready by 6:30 am with only four hours of sleep. But these are the sacrifices that future Rotarians make to preserve the integrity of Rotary International. We are soldiers. GSE soldiers. 
This morning we went to another club meeting founded by lil Thias (Shannan's host mom). It was also her birthday. Then we visited the MASPA (modern art museum) which had the COOLEST exhibit featuring Vik Muniz. We also visited a gorgeous cathedral. Then we had great food at a local bakery/deli. Then off to the hospital for children with cancer. It was inspired by St. Jude's. We toured the hospital and met with the staff to talk about fundraising and communications. It was a long but good day. Luckily we were done for the day and Ariej and I were able to crash (we realllyyyyy wanted to use the wifi) at a local fine dining (seriously shwanky) restaurant with Lothar (who is totally a ringer for Donald Sutherland). So now we are up to the present - 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. 
I finally downloaded all my pics but this wifi is soooo slow so the pictures are not loading. I will try again later. 
Nancy and Ariej (and Lothar)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What day is it?!

Hey everyone,
I only have a few minutes to post b/c the van is about to pick me up for our third day of activities. I wasn~t able to post on Monday because we were having internet problems and last night we didn~t get home until 12:30 am ish b/c we were at a Rotary party for a club`s anniversary. Man the Rotarians have some stamina. We were all beat since our day started around 9 am but they were still going. It´s not uncommon that we won~t get home until after 10 at night, wired but tired at the same time. Lothar jokes with me each night I return that it is time to exercise because I said I wanted to try to while I am here. But he knows from experience that we will get home late each night and not even want to think about doing anything more than just sitting. He said maybe on Sunday nights, we will have time and energy to do something.
Anyway Monday and Tuesday were truly amazing. We went to several different social programs that Rotary supports. I`ll have to write about those tonight maybe when I have more time. I am still not able to post pictures because I am on Lothar`s computer but as soon as I can have time and find wireless I will be able to. Go to Shannan~s and Crystals blog if you want to see pics. This morning we are about to go to the center of Sao Paulo to get a city tour and see the amazing views from high up. I can`t wait! Tonight we have to give our presentation to a club.
The girls and I are having such a fun time. We are constantly cutting up, imagine that right? Our Portuguese is improving every day. Lothar, who has become my Portuguese teacher, says that by the end of the month, my Portuguese will be good. They are being so wonderful to me. I have everything I need and more. By the way, the food here is amazing. Everything is so fresh and healthy.
Anyway, honestly there is just so much to say, I don`t know what to write. I am journaling every night because I just want to get it all down somehow. I never want to forget anything that we~ve done here because it is so amazing.
I was able to talk to my parents and Stephen on Monday for a few short minutes. That meant the world to me honestly. It`s funny how those few minutes can keep me going until the next time I will be able to communicate with them.
Thanks to everyone for keeping up with the blogs. I´m sorry I can´t comment back right now because they should be here any minute. I appreciate the comments though. Just know that I`m having a beyond wonderful time and can´t wait to have time to write more about all that we have been able to experience so far.
I miss you all and I hope that all is well with everyone.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We made it!

So I´ve made it to Brasil! What a 24 hours this has been. I´ve just arrived at my first host family´s home a few minutes ago. The great people that are hosting me for the next 10 days are Lothar and Wanda Ehrhardt, which their second name literally means "hard honor." Over the years, they´ve had 35 people stay with them through the GSE program and other Rotary programs. Now that´s hospitality.

So we get here and they completely open their home to me. And naturally when they say what do you want to do well of course the answer is sleep but first where is your computer? :-) go figure. If I make any mistakes in my blogs during the next 10 days, I´m sorry, this keyboard is definitely different from what we are used to so I´m typing slower than normal. It´s such an unusual feeling for me not to be able to just pick up my phone and talk to or text someone.

The game plan for the next 10 days is to stay in Sao Paulo, which by the way, is huge - well at least the part we´ve seen so far. The home that I´m staying in and the home we ate brunch at earlier reminds me a lot of New Orleans actually - rather long, but two stories, beautiful. We know we have Rotary meetings tomorrow through Wednesday (which means making presentations either short or long) along with visits to foundations, nonprofits and schools, and I think I heard them mentioning that we were going to visit a hospital that does the surgeries to correct clef palettes. Thursday we will have a break or time to go shopping. Then Friday, I think more Rotary meetings. I think at least. What I do know for sure is Saturday we get to sleep late and go to learn the samba that night! Then Sunday we are going to a parque or park - which I can´t wait for.

Oh I forgot to talk about the trip here. It went well. We had a slight delay getting to Houston after making our presentation at the conference in Monroe, but we made it there in time to make our flight to Sao Paulo. Sleeping on a plane for that many hours is difficult though, so I basically haven´t really slept since Friday night at the hotel. So that´s my plan when I´m done writing this. They said to take advantage of today and get the rest we can because these next 30 days will be crazy. Lothar and Wanda said after I stand up (they meant wake up) and shower, we will figure out what to do for dinner. They are so nice to care that I don´t eat beef or pork. Oh yeah, Wanda doesn´t speak any English and Lothar says he doesn´t speak much English but I can assure you that his English is much better than my Portuguese. I´m just glad I had some experience with the language before we got here. It´s already made it easier.

Up until now, I hadn´t really had the chance to be homesick because I´ve been so consumed with actually getting here. I do miss everyone at home especially my parents and Stephen but I know that this will be an incredible month that I cant wait to share with them when I get home.

Alright well I´m exhausted and frankly I stink, so a short nap and a shower are a must right now. I will post pics as soon as I can though.

Miss you all!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So lucky.

So today was my last day at work before I leave - what a surreal feeling, a mix between being so ready to go but making sure all loose ends are tied up and of course the occasional thought of 'ahhhh I can't believe I'm doing this.'  I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to do this. 
We leave for Monroe and the district conference around noon tomorrow. There's a Bluegrass and Bourbon party tomorrow night, then Saturday morning we will make our presentation (in Portuguese) at the conference. Then it's off to Brasil!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Brasil, Here I Come!

This is my family for the next month. GSE Brasil 2009 Outgoing Team - Me, Crystal Dallas, Shannan Hicks, Nita Brouillette, and Ariej Alexander. I wish you could meet these ladies. They are all wonderful in their own way - and I can't wait to get to know them better as we travel in Brasil together for a month.

Rotary International is wonderful enough to give us this opportunity to experience Brazilian culture like many will never have the chance to. We leave on Saturday afternoon for what I'm sure will be the trip of a lifetime.

To try to keep everyone updated, I hope to be able to post something each day about my trip. So cheesy as it is, I hope you follow me along in my journey!