Monthly Archives: March 2012

Couldn’t wait for another District Conference

Yes! Another successful Rotary Weekend.

This last saturday Rotary had its 1690 District Conference in the southern French city of Pau. And thanks to Rotarian Christine Shieber I was able to attend it.

We left Bordeaux early saturday and arrived in Pau 2 hours later. Once we arrived there, I was able to see all the other inbounds again, and meet the new ones. The best part of it is that I got to practice my Spanish and even my French, which I barely ever do. And I oughta say; I am pretty happy and proud of what I have learned so far. I know I’m nowhere near ready to teach it yet. But if someone leaves me stranded in a random French city, or Québec. I’m sure I will find my way back home!

At night we walked around the city and ended up going to a bar to dance a little, which can be awkward when done, latin style, in a small city that probably doesn’t see many tourists. After an intense evening in Pau we headed back to the Best Western, the local hotel we were staying at.

Sunday morning we left Pau and headed to Lourdes, city that also lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Lourdes is know for its remote Grotto of Massabielle. Where 14 year old Bernadette Soubirous claimed seing “the Immaculate Conception” who she believed to be the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Since the apparitions in 1958, Lourdes has become one of the world’s leading Catholic Marian shrines and the number of visitors grows each year. And like I learned as a kid, it is a really important place within the Roman Catholic church, and the grotto’s spring water is believed by some to possess healing properties. So I had to bring some home for my family.

So, cheers to the french Rotarians, they pulled off a great District Conference. But honestly, this was nothing compared to the ones Minnesota’s District 5950 does each year. Every time I just get so excited I just wanna puke by the time we are leaving.

  • Post’s photo: A break from the 1690 District Conference, walking around Pau on May 24th, 2012
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Je ne peux pas écrire des poèmes

Je voudrais aimer mon père

mais mes souvenirs sont amers

je n’ sais pas comment on gère

la douleur qu’ils génèrent

Je voudrais manquer mon père

les moments son lacérés

je ne connais la colère

la doleur qu’il génère

So this is my writing production for this week’s french class, it is called Mon père, and it is a Kyrielle, a French form of rhyming poetry written in quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines).

  • Post’s photo: Quito’s TeleferiQo at 4.050 meters of altitude, August 1st, 2011.
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Can’t believe this weather °F

Every morning, while eating my scrambled eggs and toast, I check what the weather is going to be like. I check not only the forecast for Bordeaux, France but also for Minneapolis, USA and Pirapora, Brazil. What I could not  this morning, is that once again is actually warmer in Minnesota right now, than it is in Bordeaux.

The Weather Forecast for Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA °F

I guess this is what people mean when they say:

You can run, but you can’t hide!

I say that because what motivated me the most to study abroad, specifficaly during the spring semester, was Minnesota’s last year’s winter; the harshest one in years. So I just assumed, and feared, that this year’s winter would be a repeat of that, and after that I just wanted to go somewhere warmer.

The Weather Forecast for Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France °F

Well, today’s weather forecast defeated the whole purpose of it. If it doesn’t get any warmer here I might as well just sell my mini-fridge and get some more wine.

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Couldn’t have had better families

Família - Os Mendonça de Carvalho

Host Family #1 - The Lawells (August 24, 2009 / November 20, 2009)

Host Family #2 - The Ramsdales (November 21, 2009 - February 26, 2010)

Host Family #3 - The Duseks (February 27, 2010 - December 10, 2010)

Host Family #4 - The Bergs (December 11, 2010 - May 17, 2011)

Host Family #5 - The Petries (August 18, 2011 - December 15, 2011)

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Can’t get it out of my head


I could not fall asleep today because I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head. For everything I say, do, post on Facebook or write on my blog, the thought of what my host families are gonna say and think comes mind. Not necessarily Host Family, but Host moms. Host moms are even scarier than your mom back home. The difference between them is that, with your real family, you can say and do pretty much anything, because you know that if something isn’t right, they are gonna forgive you and forget about it the next day, they are family, that is what they are there for, they can’t simply give up on you. But Host Families are the people that choose to open their doors and let you into their house, into their families and their lives.

As a Rotary Youth Exchange Student I had three Host Families; the Lawells, the Ramsdales and the Duseks. Which means I had three host moms; Debbie, Denise and Barb. After my exchange year I lived with two other families; the Bergs and the Petries, so two more host moms; Nancy and Shelley. Each Host Family is as unique as our fingerprints or a zebra’s stripes. The sense of humor changes from house to house, family to family, city to city. I have had all kinds of families; Catholics, Protestants, Agnostics, families that lived in the suburbs, in the city, families with no kids or where I had a brother and a sister, or two sisters, houses with no pets, with one cat or one dog and two cats. The combination of factors that differs one Host family from another is infinite, but that is not what is keeping me up tonight.

Living with all these families is great, it is one of the best learning experiences I have had, needless to say that they all helped and continue on helping me immensely that I will just never be able to pay back. That is where my concern begins; I have to keep them happy, I feel like I do, because unlike my home family, I don’t know what would happen if I let them down. Not that I am constantly doing something wrong. It is just that I care vastly about their opinions and considerations, and if I were to do something that changed perception of me to a poorer one, I would be endlessly upset.

What would Shelley do? What would Barb say? What would Denise think?

I would never be in France if I hadn’t had such amazing Host families, they all helped me get here in one way or another. Without them I wouldn’t even had gone back to the United States in the first place, I can’t imagine my life without them, and I would be nowhere if they hadn’t believed, given me the support I needed, and helped me follow my dreams. So for now, all I can say is; Thank you for believing in me, thank you for the unique opportunities you’ve given me and for supporting me for the past two and a half years. Thank you for being great role models and exceptional moms while mine was 6 thousand miles away.

  • Post’s photo: My double sided American/Brazilian blanket, made by Maire Clement
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Couldn’t stay home during my first break


Even though I had almost 10 days off of school last week I didn’t travel much. I stayed in Bordeaux most of the time and walked around, discovered the city, the pubs, the public gardens.

But during the weekend, Rotex Emilie Gravelle drove me, two other Rotex and Inbound Sarah-Jane Fish to Arcachon; a small, charming city in the southwestern coast of France, about 80KM away from Bordeaux. I was very excited to not only see the city, but touch the Atlantic, 10.000 Km away from home.

We walked around the bay for hours, the day started out gorgeous. For lunch, we stopped at this great local restaurant-creperie called L’Ilot, and for the first time I had Moules marinière (mussels), something I had never seen or heard of before. I still don’t know how I feel about it though, it is good, interesting to say the least, but I definitely wouldn’t order an entire bucket for myself.

I had a great time playing with it though, we all had fun there, and before we finished lunch we even got a Complementary Jar of Sangria, typical wine punch from Portugal and Spain. We must be really cool or something, or not. Still, that was a good ending for my tasting experience, since I had never had it like that before either.

As it started to get colder, we decided to hear back home and visit the Dune du Pyla next time, so now we have an excuse to go back!

  • Post’s photo: Arcachon’s entrance sign, February 26th, 2012
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Je ne peux pas me présenter

Je m’appelle Marcos Carvalho, je suis célibataire. Je suis brésilien, mon signe du zodiaque c’est Lion parce que je suis né le 09 Août 1991 à Pirapora au Brésil.
J’ai habité aux Etats-Unis pendant 2 ans et 6 mois où j’ai étudié la Science Politique à Normandale College à Minneapolis. Mais maintenant j’habite au Village 3, 5 avenue Maine de Biran, Domaine Universitaire à Pessac.

J’habite à Pessac parce que je voudrais apprendre le français à l’Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3 – DEFLE. J’aime les langues latines et je parle portugais, anglais et espagnol couramment et un peu français.

Je suis très heureux d’apprendre une autre langue ici en France.

Jusqu’ici j’aime beaucoup la culture française, j’adore la cuisine française : le pain, le vin et le fromage. Ce soir je vais manger du pain avec du camembert pour le dîner parce que c’est ce que je préfère. Le week-end je vais dans un bar avec mes amis. Mon passe-temps favori c’est regarder des séries américaines et écouter de la musique brésilienne. Comme loisir j’aime le volley, je fais aussi du jogging et j’aime faire des origamis : des tsuru (oiseaux). Ma couleur préférée c’est la couleur verte.

Ma plus grande angoisse est d’arrêter d’apprendre et devenir stupide, bête. Je pense que si je lis et si j’apprends quelque chose tous les jours, je serai bien et satisfait.

J’ai travaillé dans un restaurant à Minneapolis, le Sunstreet Breads, très près de ma maison. j’ai été serveur pendant 6 mois et j’ai travaillé aussi dans mon université. J’ai été “leader multiculturel” pendant 1 an. Dans mon travail, je pratique le portugais et l’espagnol avec les autre étudiants étrangers. J’ai aussi été stagiaire dans le département de marketing de l’université. J’aidais à créer des affiches et des enseignes pour l’Université.

Mon plus beau souvenir c’est quand j’ai voyagé seul pendant 2 mois. J’ai visité plusieurs pays comme l’Argentine, le Chili, le Pérou, l’Equateur et la Colombie. Et ce voyage m’a aidé à parler couramment l’espagnol. Tous les lieux et les gens que j’ai rencontrés étaient supers.

Et ce voyage me rappelle mon principal défaut : je fais trop confiance et ce n’est pas toujours bon. Dans un pays où la culture est différente, je devrais être plus perspicace.

Quand j’aurai fini l’université, je rêve d’habiter un peu en Argentine, de voyager en Asie et aussi en Afrique, en particulier dans les pays de langue portugaise comme l’Angola, le Cap-Vert, la Guinée-Bissau, le Mozambique et Sao Tomé-et-Principe. Je rêve aussi de travailler pour le gouvernement brésilien comme diplomate.

  • Post’s photo: At Cerro Campanario, in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, named by National Geographic one of the “Top 10 Views in the World.”
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Can’t believe what I just saw!

So, here is the thing;

In July of 2010, at the end of my exchange year, thanks to the Apple Valley Rotary Club, I did a bus trip throughout the United State’s East Coast.

On the ECT (East Coast Trip) I went from Minnesota all the way to New York, traveled south, going through states like North and South Carolina and Georgia, stayed a few days in Florida, and worked my way up through Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana.

I spent 17 days on a bus with 26 other Rotary Youth Exchange Students from all over the world. In a situation like that you are kind of expected to go crazy, right?

Right!

What I didn’t expect was to find this Post Card in a small Souvenir shop in Arcachon, France, 2 years later.

Before you ask; No! It is not me and my friends! It is the Atlantic though. 🙂

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Couldn’t be happier – UPDATE

2 Down, 3 to Go!

So today, as I was taking the tram back home, I received this e-mail from one of the Universities I had applied to:

Dear Marcos,

Congratulations on your acceptance to Hamline University! This is just a quick note to give you the good news.

I just  got into another one of the schools I had applied to for my Junior year, Cheers!

Starting on Fall 2012 I will be transferring from Normandale Community College to a four year institution. Last month I received an e-mail from the University of St. Thomas saying that I had been accepted there as well. So yeah, I am feeling pretty good right now that I’ve got legit options.

Dear Marcos,

Congratulations!  I am pleased to offer you admission to the University of St. Thomas, beginning in the fall 2012 semester.

Thank you very very much Shelley and Virgil Petrie, for helping me apply 4 thousand miles away. I definitely couldn’t have done it without your help.

I am still waiting to hear from the University of Minnesota, Macalester College and Augsburg. Hopefully, I’ll carry on the good score. I don’t care much about where I end up going to school, it is just like going abroad, because I know it is not about where you are going, it is about where you went. And no matter where I go, it will be in the Twin Cities, the place I learned to love.

– UPDATE – 

So, today when i woke up, I checked my inbox and it had another confirmation e-mail, I just got accepted to the University of Minnesota! And again, I couldn’t be happier.

Dear Marcos,

I am happy to let you know that you have now been admitted to the College of Liberal Arts for the upcoming Fall semester.

Sincerely,

Marcos

  • Post’s photo: In a boat ride in New York, 6th day of the East Coast Trip. July 02, 2010
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