Tag Archives: rotary

Spring of 2016

Dear Rotarians,

When I last wrote to you the bombings at the Brussels airport had just happened. It’s been three months now and I would like to update you on how my spring semester went and how things are going.


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A message to Rotary


Dear Rotarians,

It’s been 75 days since I left Minneapolis to pursue my Masters in Brussels. I first flew to Germany, and then got a ride to Belgium. All under U$ 330 Dollars. I wanna assure you I’m being as resourceful as I can with this grant, and that I’m thrilled to be a Rotary ambassador once again.
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Tengo un mapa que me lleva a otro país


Querido lector,

Aunque se supone que este trabajo te habla sobre todas las ventajas de ser bilingüe en el mundo globalizado de hoy, si no sabes ni la importancia, ni el valor de este atributo, puedes parar de leerlo justo ahora. En mi artículo no voy a tratar de convencerlo de las ventajas de saber más de una lengua. Voy a suponer que entiendes y estás de acuerdo conmigo y con mi actitud positiva hacia los idiomas y la diversidad de culturas.

Mis hijos serán educados, y estarán rodeados, por una cultura global. En mi casa, quiero tener presente las raíces y tradiciones de Brasil. El hecho de que mis hijos hablen mi lengua maternal a la perfección y que conozcan y practiquen las costumbres brasileñas. Soy consciente de que estos son de los mejores legados que les puedo dejar a mis hijos. Pero sé también que no será fácil, en la realidad esta hazaña requerirá mucho de mi tiempo y energía. Pero quiero que sepan de dónde vienen, quienes son, y además de sentirse orgullosos de ser brasileños, contarán con una herramienta bicultural para desarrollarse en el futuro.

No basta ser bilingüe o multilingüe, aparte del idioma, la educación en otra cultura también es esencial. Ciudadanos multiculturales de alma presentan una mayor disposición a conectar con otras culturas. Todos mis amigos hablan al menos otro idioma, compartimos el gusto por el aprendizaje de diferentes lenguas. Son jóvenes que decidieron cambiar sus vidas y dejar sus zonas de conforto, y así fueron a vivir a otro país. Son jóvenes que así como yo, toman riesgos, rompen las barreras para jugar un juego a la altura de sus sueños multiculturales. Están dispuestos a enfrentar desafíos para crear una vida que amen, como embajadores mundiales de buena voluntad y comprensión. Es por eso que mantengo a mis amigos cerca, pues valoran mis orígenes, y siempre estamos aprendiendo unos de otros. Ser multilingüe y multicultural es una parte muy importante de mi vida. Es una pieza que ilumina mi camino, que constantemente me presenta nuevas oportunidades, define mis intereses y objetivos, y me llena de alegría.

Hoy en día, una comprensión global es casi un requisito previo. Creo que si alguien no tiene ni la paciencia ni el interés en aprender sobre otras culturas o una lengua extranjera, probablemente no tienen mucho que añadir en mi vida. No soy elitista, de ninguna manera, pero me siento optimista de que actualmente, todos tengamos la misma oportunidad de ser bilingües y ciudadanos del mundo. Las herramientas están disponibles para aquellos que las quieran usar, y déjame decirte que vale la pena.


Marcos Carvalho

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Can’t believe I’m going to Africa


It’s a good day to be in America,

Acabei de receber minha carta de aceitação.
Je vais étudier à l’étranger le semestre prochain. En Août, je me déplace au Sénégal. Il sera incroyable.
Fall of 2013 I’ll be exploring the complexities created by issues such as environment, globalization, public health and social justice in Senegal, with the Minnesota Studies in International Development program.
Me deseje sorte nessa proxima aventura, mal posso esperar pra chegar na Africa Ocidental.

So, stay tuned. More news to come in the next months.

Um Brasileiro pra lá de feliz!
Marcos Carvalho

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Can’t hate die Kartoffeln – Part 3

The carpooling driver from Denmark to Germany was of African origin, native French/English speaker who lives in Germany but works in Denmark, so that was a pretty interesting ride for me, so when the pouring rain slowed us down, I didn’t really mind.

I just got dropped off at this weird train station in Hamburg, not too long until Philipp shows up, wearing the same clothes as when I said goodbye a week before. I think he just didn’t want me to get confused, that way I would find him more easily.

I thought I had liked Germany the first time I came. But, man, I didn’t think it could get any better.

The weather was nicer, clubs were hotter, parties were cooler, people were more attractive, I was more excited and phoenix were flying higher! Life just keeps getting better and better!!!

If these few days here served for any good, it was to prepare myself for the First Rotex International Convention that will happen next weekend. I don’t think I am ready for that yet.

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Couldn’t go to Legoland

I have finally arrived in Scandinavian territory, starting Phase III of my Journey.

This trip was all about NPC (Non playable characters). Simply because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten from Point A: Ahrensburg to Point B: Odense SV.

I left Ahrensburg with Philipp, where he helped me find my ride from the Mitchhahrhjcuirehfueh website (Mitfahrgelegenheit.de actually). And when we did, I said goodbye to him for the third time this year, and hopped in the car, to head north.

The plan was to get dropped off in Flensburg, the border city of Germany with Denmark, where Malou Rohde Trup would pick me up. Half way there I used a girls phone to text Malou just to find out there is a change of plans, she can’t pick me up and I’d have to take the train on my own. Alright, sounds good. But, how am I supposed to pay for that? I don’t have any Danish Kroner, so again I need to call Malou so she can help me figure that one out. At the end of the day I finally arrived in Odense and got picked up by Malou. The city of Odense is the third largest city in Denmark, and is the main city of the island of Funen.

Phoenix reunited after just a few months. I stayed with Malou for a week. I met her loving family, hung out with her crazy friends, burned old witches at the stake, had various flavors of Sumersbee, cleaned the house for sale, watched Les Mis over and over again, and last but not least; I saw the Scandinavian graduation hats for the first time, and fell in love with them.

What surprised me the most is that everyone in Denmark seems to speak English, from the little kids riding their bikes, to the grandparents feeding the ducks at the lake. So, it would be a hard job to get lost in this tiny country. A week later, Malou started preparing to go camping, and I had to leave for the Rotex Convention. Not without stopping in Ahrensburg again.

Thank you so so much for having me Malou, I missed you and it was fantastic seeing you. Love, Phoenix.

  • PS: I never actually went to LEGOLAND, that is just a term of endearment for Denmark
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Can’t hate die Kartoffeln – Part 2

Something great about Phase II, a.k.a. Germany, besides potatoes, is that here you can get group train tickets. These group train tickets allow you to travel in a group of up to 5 people, and it comes off really cheap. So that is what I did to get from Kassel, town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, with only €7.

For my surprise, what thought would be the longest train ride, turned out to be extremely interesting as soon as a group of Rotary Exchange students hosted in Germany entered the train.

The only complication I had was not having a place to stay. No big deal, happens all the time, right? Well, the solution was clear to me. The first thing that popped into my head was to go on the Rotary Facebook page created for the former Exchange students and ask;

-Is anyone here going to be around Hamburg this weekend?

That same day I got a response from Annika Peters, former Rotary Exchange Student to Brazil. And that is where I stayed. That same night after I arrived in Hamburg and met up with her, we watched the UEFA European Football Championship match between Denmark x Germany at the Heiligengeistfeld. It was fantastic, the energy from the Germans was unique, and I am very glad I was on the German side that night.

Next day I met up with Philipp, former Rotary Exchange student and my roommate during  the East Coast Trip in 2010. Earlier this semester he had come to Bordeaux, so this was my second time seeing him since our exchange. Philipp lived in Ahrensburg, little town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, situated in Stormarn. Its population around 31,700.

Even though I had just seen him a couple of months ago, I felt like this was foreign territory. I would finally meet his friends and his family, after hearing so much about them. I spent four fun days in Ahrensburg with the Roehls, the Ma’am and Sir were very kind and cooked me plenty of kartoffeln.

I partied in Hamburg, walked through the Reeperbahn, street in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg’s nightlife and also the city’s red-light district. In German it is also sometimes described as die sündige Meile (the sinful mile). Had my first conversation with a lady in a fanny pack – here is a tip for the ladies that are visiting the city, don’t wear fanny packs, or you might get mistaken by someone else.

I left Ahrensburg on the 22nd of June and went to Odense to meet up with Malou Tolstrup Rhode, another former Rotary exchange student.

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Can’t hate die Kartoffeln

Phase II! I finally get to see something in Germany besides the interiors of the Munich airport. I see germans, germans everywhere! After another long day of traveling, switching trains and eating homemade sandwiches, I finally arrived in Frankfurt.

  • 10H50-12H16 Troyes – Paris
  • 13H40-15H04 Paris – Metz
  • 15H49-16H34 Metz – Forbach
  • 16H54-17H04 Forbach – Saarbrücken
  • 18H58-20H58 Saarbrücken – Frankfurt
  • 23H30-01H20 Frankfurt – Felsberg

Once I got there I was received at the train station by Carolin Dippel, a German Rotary Exchange student that lived with my family in Brazil while I was an Exchange student in Minnesota in 2009/2010. Which means I only cohabited with her for two weeks, three years ago. So I wasn’t sure how things were gonna turn out.

Not to my surprise we hit it off just fine! We went partying on my first night there, I met all of her friends, we got the chance to speak Portuguese, which always makes me happy, and ended up helping her since she went to Brazil just a couple weeks after I had come to visit.

With her family, I had the chance to see some old castles in the region, like the Waldeck Castle. Its ruins lie high above the Baybach valley. It was the main seat of the Hunsrück Family Boos. The castle was in use until 1833 when the family of Boos von Waldeck sold its holdings in the Rhineland. We also visited the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, Hesse’s only national park.

My favorite part about visiting another country is staying with a family that is welcoming, if they are also great cooks, I woun’t complain. That way I get to taste great, local, homemade food. And so far, I loved german food. By that I mean; KARTOFFELN, kartoffeln everyday! I am not a beer drinker, so potatoes became my favorite german specialty, and I made sure to have them the 7/7 days I spent in Felsberg with the Dippel’s.

Being in a foreign country where I don’t know the language, I thought Germany would scare me a little bit. But I had such great hosts that by the time I left I could even say some words in the native language:

– Hallo!

– Danke für das essen.

– Danke für das frühstück.

– Danke für di kartoffeln.

– Zwei kurze, bite!

– Tschüss!

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Couldn’t wait for phase 2

As much as I love traveling around France, visiting medieval cities that have been around since the Roman era, and using my not-so-good francophone skills, I couldn’t wait for Phase 2!

First let me tell you how Phase 1 ended!

After Paris, I took the train to Troyes, to visit another Rotary exchange student friend of mine, Chloé Soto-Mayor. Her city has a population of 60 thousand inhabitants and it is located on the Seine river about 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Paris. Troyes is also the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. In medieval times Troyes was an important international trade centre, centring around the Troyes Fair. The name troy weight for gold derives from the standard of measurement evolving here.

Chloé Soto-Mayor: Maple Grove, USA 2011 / Troyes, France 2012

Chloé and I tried to meet up in France for about 5 months, which never worked out, and then finally as I am leaving the country I stopped by in Troyes to spend a weekend with her. It had been a year since we last saw each other, and as usual, it feels like nothing has changed, like we had just seen each other the week before. The difference is now we had an extra secret language; French. Well, not so secret here.

We spent a great weekend together, plenty of wine, cheese and bread, my favorite things in France. I feel like it was a decent ending for my Phase I: France, and that just made me even more excited to leave France and go visit some other old friends I had met in the United States.

  • Source: Troyes city council website.
  • Photo: Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Troyes.
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Can’t wait to play my RPG

I’ve been thinking a lot about this summer, and I have decided to divide it into phases. Yes, phases, like in a game. I’m still not quite sure what will make one phase different from the other, or how they are going to work. But let’s use RPG games as a metaphor.

In a Role Playing Game you assume the role of a character in a certain setting and created scenario. The players must take responsibility for acting out these roles within the narrative. Being in charge of the decision-making and character development, while undertaking quests that will help him discover his purpose in action, and also achieve his final goal and destination. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines that are given to the player. But of course there can be interpretation of the rules or free form decision making within them.

In the world of RPG games there are also the NPCs. Non-player characters that have a role as the “supporting cast” or “extras” of a roleplaying narrative. Non-player characters populate the fictional world of the game, and can fill any role not occupied by a player character. And just like in real life NPCs might your be allies, bystanders or competitors. One way or another, these characters are fundamental in anyone’s life, as they inspire, teach and helpll help us achieve our goals and complete phases.

The main objective of an RPG is for players to get their characters from one adventure to the next, learning and seeing as much as they can throughout each phase. Now that, my friends, sounds like real life to me! The difference is that I’ll create my own narrative, and I won’t do it sitting on a couch all summer.

Still following? Not too complicated.

The scenario this time is Europe.

The phases I still don’t know. t is like in real life, I guess, one never knows what lies ahead. What I do know is that I am ready for whatever is up next.

The most important are the rules. I have mentioned them before, but I’ll remind you what they are. It’s quite simple.

  • Be First
  • Be on Purpose
  • Be Grateful
  • Be of Service
  • Be Here Now
  • Be Curious, not judgmental!
  • Well, Be a Phoenix, will you?

I hope I can see many of my friends again. I hope to meet many NPCs that will help me throughout my journey. I hope to see a lot and learn as much as I can. For that, I’ll fly like a Phoenix.

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