Our group left Brazil on May 19 full of expectations and energy for the month ahead — we would be in Canada and the U.S.A., two weeks in each country, as part of the Rotary Group Study Exchange (GSE). As members of the program, apart from being ambassadors for our country and district, the idea was to get in contact with our careers and professions. The group is very diverse — there is a meteorologist (our team leader), a dentist, a teacher, an IT specialist and myself, a journalist. We knew we would face plenty of vocational experiences and even though we had really high expectations, we wouldn’t have known it would turn out to be even more interesting.
Our adventure started in Kimberley, where we were extremely warmly welcomed — first thought: So is it really OK to hug people and act like we’ve known each other for a long time, like we do in Brazil? Apparently, there is no problem with that, and there were hugs all around. Our next days were really busy — a tour at the St. Eugene mission and the Sullivan mine, hiking and getting to know some of the local Rotary Club projects.
Of course, we were, since the beginning, astonished by the scenery — for us, it just doesn’t look natural to have a mountain range surrounding us everywhere — amazing! For the first few days, we were thinking we might have been dreaming, or trapped in a cult movie or even taking part in Woody Woodpecker cartoon (that is big in Brazil!).
The next stop was Creston for only a few days (May 25-28), but again, we were surprised by people being interested in us and the purpose of our trip. As a journalist, I keep asking many questions — why, since when, for how long? It looks like my brain has no break at all and keeps processing a huge amount of information, trying to establish connections and comparison to how things are (or should be) back in Brazil — our education, our government, our people. The feeling I get is that, once back, I would bring along with my bags all these ideas and reflections that we should consider — that would go for our Rotary Clubs, personal and professional lives.
We are not even halfway through the trip, yet, so we know we’ll keep getting surprised and amazed, and the feeling I get is that I could never be part of a trip like this if it wasn’t for the GSE. I was an exchange student to Australia in 1999 for a whole year and back then, at 16 years of age, I did not get to be as mind-blown as I am right now. I guess time and maturity have gotten me in a way this trip will forever be a significant part of my life. So far, we have realized that, even though Brazil and Canada are different countries, we also have a big number of similarities that make us feel comfortable and adapted even thousands of kilometers far from home.
If you would like to know more about our trip, visit www.ige4510.blogspot.com.br. It’s in Portuguese, so if the translator doesn’t do a nice job, there are plenty of photos that speak for themselves.
—BY GIOVANA LOPES