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!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Heart of Brasil..... Embu! We were told all about the arts and crafts that Embu is known for, but I was not prepared for the sheer volume! The streets are covered with vendors who have lovingly painted, sewed or crafted something by hand for sale. The prices were unbelievable which explains why all of us need to buy extra luggage to get all of our purchases back to the states. Even better than the shopping were the people! As soon as I got out of the car in Embu I am greeted by my host family and the lovely matriarch says, This is your brother. Vinicius, help your sister with her bags. (SHOUT OUT TO VINICIUS!) That is just a small example of how immediately the people of Embu wanted us to feel welcomed and like a part of the family. As a matter of fact ALL of the brasileiros we have met have been amazing. You are greeted with hugs and kisses as if you are seeing old friends again. And for a southern girl like me that works just fine! :)
Also while in Embu we were introduced to churrascaria which is basically a never ending feast of meats that are perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection over a fire. The nights were filled with fun, dancing, food and caipirinhas (hehe, google it!)
Embu felt like a refreshing visit with family and I am so thankful to all the Rotarians and friends of Rotarians who gave us space to relax, relate and reflect! Now I feel ready for our upcoming week.
Here is what we have coming up:
-the zoo
-a visit to Santos
-the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange, Commodities and Futures Exchange
-Saint Bento Monastery
-Latin American Memorial
-Portuguese Language Museum
-Pinacoteca Museum
-EstaƧao da Luz
-Pateo do Colegio
-Rio Branco High School
As you can see we have lots to look forward to and I am equally excited to meet the Rotarians who are taking time out of their schedules to join us during this week. MUITO OBRIGADA!!
Stay tuned yall!

Who knew?

So like Alicia has mentioned previously it has been a whirlwind of days leaving all of us asking what day it is and having little free time to share our experiences. This morning I will try briefly to sum up some of the a-ha moments I am learning about Rotary and Brazil so far for me. This past week we saw a Rotary project that I was very impressed with IPP - a program to help teens learn basic work skills and maintain employment. More importantly this project was partnered in funds by CitiBank. The students are all working in entery level administrative style jobs and have an opportunity as a result of this project. Like mentioned before there is evean a quota for employers to give people experience in their businesses. Imagine how many people would love those opportunities and these teens work very hard to maintain them. This program is very impressive!

We have also seen a great amount of hospitality and national pride with our host families which deserve a mention to date - so far I have stayed with: Maria Luzia, Vannessa & Renaldo and this week Ricardo & Michelle.

Today is a free day for us but I am learning about graphic arts design and printing here at Ricardo`s workplace where he is the director. I simply cannot wait to see what adventure and information tomorrow holds. I am going to the ZOO!!!! I cannot wait!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rotary in SP is doing big things!!!

It has been a few days since any of us has had a moment to post. You all would not believe the experiences we are having and its only been eight days...I think....sorry I lost track of the days a while ago.
This is what I do know...Rotary is amazing and they are definitely doing amazing things in SP! On Friday we got a chance to visit IPP (Instituto Profissionalizante Paulista). This is a program that provides job training and education to students to fill administrative positions for different companies. The students spend one day a week there in addition to their regular hours at school. All of the kids we talked to have jobs at different places, publishing houses or even companies like Citibank- who is a major corporate sponsor of the program. The students are learning about professionalism, how to dress and other components necessary for maintaining their positions. The students were so cool and very interested in us. Our time with them was brief but it definitely made an impact!
On another note: Did you know that in Sao Paulo there is a law that requires companies to hire a certain number of individuals with disabilities? Imagine how your office would be different if you interacted with a person living with a physical or mental disability on a daily basis? Our understanding of what life is like for people who live with these challenges would certainly be expanded. Its also encouraging to know legislation like that can be passed and enforced.
Later on we traveled to the Microsurgery Unit at a nearby hospital (sorry I forgot the name of the hospital!) where we learned that Rotary not only provided equipment for microsurgery, but also supported the education of several doctors to use the equipment. We saw pictures of hands that where completely severed and because of what Rotary has accomplished injured people can have their limbs reattached and have a high percentage of functioning return. We all left in awe of the diversity in the projects that Rotary is committed to and also the vast number of people that are benefiting from what Rotary is doing in Sao Paulo.
We had lunch that afternoon with the Avenue Paulista club and interestingly enough one of the members found an article published that morning where Citibank notes the IPP program as one of the most important programs it sponsors. WOW!
It was an eye opening day that was capped off with a great walking tour of Avenue Paulista. So after this busy week we were shuttled off to Embu for a weekend of relaxation. Ahh, Embu.....we just got back to SP from Embu and Embu deserves its own post, but for now I will say this: Embu was wonderful so stay tuned for more details on the shopping, the dancing and the CHURRASCARIA!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Well.. I couldnt go to bed without mentioning that we toured a deaf school today! YES.. I was ab le to sign to the deaf children!!! And yes it was different from ASL because they use Brazilian sign but we were still able to communicate! I was in my element and totally loving it!


This has been an amazing experience so far. We went to the "Fotebol musem which s the same as our soccer and the children in the attached picture had never heard and English speaking American and they crowded us for pictures.. It was adorable and they were so sweet. We also went to a radio station and met famous radio personalities etc. etc. But most of all, the people here are amazing and so generous! More to come!!!! God Bless!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lindo Maravilhoso!!!!

Day two in Brazil has been an absolute adventure! I intend to update later with pictures so you can see some of the things I saw today. This is the first day our team has been split up and we were turned over to our host families. And initially when the day started I was anxious to do something and a little homesick all at the same time. But then Renata walked into Guido;s home she was like a burst of sunlight! Leigh and I hopped into her red Fiat pickup and sped off to our new home for the rest of the week. Let me tell you...her home ....absolutely beautiful! Renata is a lawyer who got tired of practicing law and decided to spend her time helping people. She owns several properties that she is renovating for some of her less fortunate friends to get a step up in life. Renata is new to Rotary but the way she talks about working with poor people and giving any and everything she has makes her seem like Rotary has always been a part of her life. Leigh and I immediately fell in love with her dog and her bird, Tucano...yes he is a tucan! After lunch Renata was determined to show us where the real Brazilians lived and explained that she wanted us to visit a friend of hers that lived in the favela. Favela would be something Americans considered the ghetto, but really, Americans do not know poverty like this. The houses are multi-colored shacks that scale up, down and around the hillside. There are no roads just trails that you would need a 4wheeler to navigate. This visit was definitely not on the Rotary itinerary and probably somewhere Guido and Jim would NOT want us to be, but Renata is a strong woman and the people who live in the favela were so simpatico that we felt very comfortable the entire time. Plus, despite all forewarning, I was just as determined to see ALL of Sao Paulo. Kids were all over - boys playing dodgeball and the girls swinging on a makeshift swing. All the kids ran to us so they could play with Renata;s dog who came along. Renata;s friend invited us into her home and fussed over us offering cake and water. Renata advised us not to drink the water and we politely pretended to drink. The lady talked about how she went to see a doctor and when he asked where she lived she was embarassed because she doesnt have an address. There are no streets in the favela, no one pays rent or water or electricity. Since the people here dont pay, some days they have water and lights and other days they do not. Even while we were sitting in the house the lights would dim periodically. But this lady was a proud woman who declared that she wanted to pay for these things because she works hard and is a good person. We left thanking her for her hospitality and wishing her good luck at her new housekeeping job she was starting the next day.
Immediately after slowly trekking down the hillside and leaving the favela, Renata took us to the other extreme of Sao Paulo. After lots of chat, lots of traffic and a near side swipe from a city bus, we were gazing as the storefronts of Roberto Cavalli and Armani and Tiffany & Co. A stark contrast to the life we experienced 45 minutes earlier. Renata definitely opened our eyes to the fact that Sao Paulo has it all and everything in between.
I feel so fortunate to be living with Renata for a week, she has opened her home and heart to us and insisted that we act as if we are home as well.
YAWN!!!! Its getting late and we have to visit Guido;s Rotary club tomorrow so for now...BOA NOITE! Til next time...

Well as you can see from the previous posts, we are here! Oi Brazil!!!!!

LaTonya and I are staying with Guido and Seonea this week. We had a huge lunch of pasta and fresh salad. Seonea is a woman of my own heart, she suggested we take a walk for ice cream later. We are apparently blocks away from the best ice cream parlor in Sao Paulo.

We officially start the GSE program with tours and meeting Rotary groups tomorrow. Can't wait to see more of this country.

Sao Paolo is huge. I am posting a few pics, Jim and Christina have more on their cameras and will post even more later.

Loving it so far!

Ciao Ciao!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Boa Tarde!

Well.. we finally made it.. Thank God! I am exhausted, but so excited to be here. The city is beautidul but very crowded and busy. The team I am with is awesome. The day was busy but tomorrow is going to be worse as the program starts tomorrow. The home stays should be interesting but I am looking forward to learning a lot. I miss my family, but the time should go by quickly because I will skype them a lot. If anyone is interested in being my skype buddy, you can download for free at Well, keep in touch because I am sure you will hear a lot from all of us. Take Care and God Bless! LaTonya M. Evans

Como se chega?!

Sao Paulo -how indeed did we get here...technically it was after a long day beginning at 9:00 am with a drive to Raleigh Durham Airport then a brisk flight to Miami followed by a brezzy layover and finally a long night flight to Brazil! However, the credit really goes to my boss, my co-workers and my family who helped me even make it onto the planes! Muito obrigada to all for helping out so I can experience this firsthand. Today is just the beginning with so much more to come but I can't wait as already we have had a brisk day tour around the city via car, eaten breakfast in Brazil at a cafe and have now finally checked into a hotel for some much needed downtime. Keep your eyes on the blog as it will soon beign to fill with fun new experiences from us all!