Saturday, June 5, 2010


Now that we are home..and I think back, I know that my life has been altered forever. I am so grateful for the experience of being chosen by Rotary International to visit one of the most amazing countries in the world. It was beautiful and really just so rich in culture and diversity. I have made friends with my teamates and many of the people I met while in Sao Paulo. These relationships will always be a part of my life. I fell in love with the people, the language and the dynamics of the country and although it is not perfect, I know I will visit Brazil again. I have to expose my family to what I experienced. So, with much gratitude, I salute the Rotarians for their commitment to the exchange of ideas, cultural awareness and social growth. Thank you a million times over.. Thank you and God Bless!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Yes ... you just read the title correctly, Futebol! Thanks to our awesome GSE counterparts from Brazil, Rafael and Camila, we were able to attend a REAL Futebol game. That's soccer to all of our friends back in the U.S.

The game was Sao Paulo vs Palmeiras, and SP walked away victorious with just one GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL! 1-0 final score and the fans were awesome. Sports fans in the United States have much to learn from the passion Brazilians have for futebol.

Thanks so much to Rafael and Camila ... we love you guys!

Alicia mentioned the fantastic District 4610 Conference in a previous post. Here are a few pictures from our wonderful reunion with all the gracious, generous and amazing Rotarians we have met along the way.

Ultimo Dia!

Today Alicia and I had a great day! Celso K. (GSE Team Leader from Brazil to NC) took us to the zoo. I was so delighted to see the animals as many of you might know from my own little pet zoo. We had previously skipped this visit due to scheduling conflicts and it was very gracious of Celso to make this happen for us today. Culturally, I was proud to see that it is universal to educate the public about native and other species of animals in order to raise awareness to the environment.

After that Celso indulged us even further as we headed back to Liberdade St. for a fabulous sushi buffet lunch where I dined to my hearts content on ---OCTOPUS!

Later this evening we are having a get together with members of the GSE Team that went to North Carolina to talk. We will be leaving here shortly and this last week has given us so many fond memories to look back on as we prepare for our departure. Today really was a GREAT DAY!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rotary 4610 District Conference

We are back in Sao Paulo after a fabulous 4 day stay at the Paradise Golf and Lake Resort in Mogi das Cruzes.
Let me just say that this place is not easy to find. I was happy to hear that we were not alone in making several stops to ask for directions to the hotel. Ahh, but once we found it, it was worth the trip! Since our presentation was on Sunday we had the good fortune to spend Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday doing whatever we wanted. You all will be happy to know that the ladies made very good use of the indoor heated pool and the fitness center (yes, the workout junkies LaTonya, Beth and I enjoyed using the state of the art equipment). We also attended a few Rotary sessions, played BINGO (Brasileiros LOOOOVE BINGO) and sang karaoke (Christina, LaTonya and I sang Madonna and Spice Girls songs, but then LaTonya shut it down with a Robert Flack song that has pretty much made her famous and now every club wants her to sing at their meetings!)
The best thing about the conference was seeing all of our friends that we have made in our last few weeks here. Everyone attended the conference, from our host families to the Rotarians who escorted us to different points of interest around the various cities we have visited. SHOUT OUT TO LIMA!! Alicia <3 MARIO 4ever!!We miss you ABBY!!!
Going to the District Conference was more like attending a reunion and seeing family and friends you didn't know that you missed.The other amazing thing about District 4610 is that they are all business during the day, but at night they love to dance and party! This year a singing troupe from Sao Paulo performed on both Friday and Saturday night and they sang a few oldies, but mostly songs from MUSICALS!!!!! I'm talking Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia, Color Purple and GREASE!! So you know we were up dancing and singing along and turning the party OUT! Beth remembers the name of the group and later we will post a link to their site because they were amazing. They only spoke Portuguese, but they could sing the paint off the walls in English, okaaaay!!!!
Saturday night was the costume ball and again, it must be seen to be believed. The costumes were so elaborate and the masks were dripping with jewels and feathers. It really was a fantasy night where everyone got to transcend outside of themselves a little. It was great fun and again we danced all night long!
On Sunday during the morning session we debuted our full presentation which included information on ourselves, our vocations and NC in general. Unfortunately, the session was running behind so we literally had 10 minutes to do it. And although it was very rough and rushed we got through it and we got a lot of good compliments and yes, LaTonya sang! :p
Overall it was a good weekend and a little bittersweet, because I knew this would be the last time that we would see some of our friends. SO to everyone who has come in contact with the GSE girls from NC just know that WE LOVE YOU and GREATLY APPRECIATE your time and efforts. And as Beth would say, Muito obrigada para suas hospitalidade!
And for anyone else reading, if you ever hear about District 4610 having a conference, you need to make it your business to be there! District 4610 knows how to have a good time!

p.s. sorry i can not figure out how to get my photos uploaded, but please be patient, the photos are worth the wait so please keep checking back!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So many things ...

This week we have been staying in Alphaville, a very affluent suburb outside of Sao Paulo. LaTonya and I have been staying with Protogenese and his wife Gina. They took us to Outback for dinner our first night! What a welcome taste of home here in Brazil.

We have been doing so many things over the last few weeks; there has been little time for blogging. So, let me hit a few of my favorite highlights:

Javem Pan - this is the largest most affluent radio news station in Sao Paulo. I was so excited to visit this considering my journalistic background. When we arrived, the morning news show, with famous anchormen was finishing up their broadcast. The anchors were gracious enough to mention our team's visit and one of our host moms, Sonia, even went on air to tell the people of Sao Paulo about us. How exciting!

Argentinia President - Last Friday we met the former president of Argentina, Fernando DE LA RUA. He was speaking at the Rotary Club of Sao Paulo. So my new hobby - personal photos with world leaders! Bill Clinton and De La Rua down ... oh so many more to go.

Registro - we spent last weekend in a small town called Registro. We met Rotary Youth Exchange students from the US, Australia and India. Those kids were amazing. I can't imagine how they come to a country, do not speak the native language when they arrive and manage to stick it out for a year. Of course, they learn the language very fast. I am looking forward to seeing them at the Rotary District Conference this weekend.

Osasco!!!!!! I adore my family from Osasco. It was a small town we stayed in last week, and I could not have asked for a better host family experience. Mom and Dad didn't speak any English, but we learned to communicate ... English/Portuguese lessons were a regular during family meals. Theresina is an amazing cook! We baked homemade Pao de Queijo (aka cheese bread) AMAZING!!!!! My host sisters and brothers were awesome as well. Dani, Rita, Marcelo and Bruna took Alicia and I Samba dancing. I can't move that fast! I already miss this family. And also a big thanks to Rodrigo, my translator and bodyguard for the week! He is a great friend of the family and played basketball at University of Oklahoma in the states. He even lived in Charlottesville VA at one point during his ten years in the U.S.

We leaver tomorrow for the district conference and are looking forward to seeing so many of the Rotarians and host families we have visited earlier in the trip. We will also make our long, formal presentation to the Rotarians of
District 4610.

Hopefully we will have time to blog again soon!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sweetest guy in town...

I mentioned our Italian Don Juan, but forgot to include his picture. Alicia and I just had to give him a little peck, he was just that nice and really very sweet! ENJOY!

WHEW! What a worldwind!

Well, the last time I checked my name was LaTonya, but things are moving so fast, I barely know my name! LOL! But all is well. We have had a very hectic past couple of days. But oooh.. how rich it has been. First of all, I am not able to even recount it all, but after our supposed rest day on Monday( I got my nails done with acrylic flowers on the tips.. amazing!) Tuesday, we hit Santos, which is on the coast and absolutely beautiful.. see pictures. The only issue was that it was hours away and throughout the day I know we were in the car for at least 6 hours! But at the end the day, Jim and I had dinner at an Arabic restaurant and bellly dancers performed for us! They tactfully danced, but it was an interesting experience. Today, it was off and running by 6am and Jim, Christina and I did not arrive home until almost midnight. I was asked to sing at one of the clubs and they enjoyed it so much, I am singing at the district conference next week! How did that happen? Anyway, we attended two rotary club meetings today and walked for miles touring the city and one of the rotarians, an Italian was Don Juan all day( older, gracious, sweeet gentleman!)And another rotatrian blessed us with so much free stuff from his store, I was overwhelmed. And last but not least, I went shopping. You gotta love Rotary! Until next time, blessings!