Colson Fairchild

 Brazil

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: Pedro Menendez
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: St. Augustine, Florida
Host District: 4310
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Piracicaba: Cidade Alta


My Bio


Ola! Hi! My name is Colson Fairchild and I am proud to be representing District 9670 this year as an exchange student to Brazil. I am from St Augustine, Florida and I go to Pedro Menendez High School. This year I decided to take a leap of faith and apply for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. I was inspired by my good friend Nikki Johnson who was an outbound to Belgium this year, and by Fred (Minsu) who is an inbound staying with my family right now. My parents have been very supportive during this process; they have made sure to let me know how sad they’ll be to see me go. I am in the middle of my two siblings, one younger brother and one older sister. My brother loves sports and everything that you can do outdoors and my sister spends a lot of her time at church and on mission trips to help the less fortunate. My family is constantly busy with different activities so our house is rarely full. I’m the worst culprit about having no free time. I have a job at Chick Fil A and I have school to go to. On top of that I study a Korean martial art called Tang Soo Do. I have been doing it for about 4 or 5 years now and I am a first degree black belt. I try to make time to spend with my family and friends, luckily school, my martial arts studio, and Chick Fil A are all closed on Sundays, so I get a little reprieve there. I love to hang out with my friends whenever I get the chance, I’m excited to get to make new friends in Brazil where I’ll have more time for them. Wish me luck y’all!

All of the inbounds and rebounds at the "World Fair"

All of the inbounds and rebounds at the "World Fair"

My school had pajama day for the seniors. We all "passed out" for one teacher but I don't have that photo

My school had pajama day for the seniors. We all "passed out" for one teacher but I don't have that photo

A big family churrasco. My host brother is wearing the Brazilian flag

A big family churrasco. My host brother is wearing the Brazilian flag

Paintball was super fun

Paintball was super fun

I don't have a photo of my whole host family but these are my host brothers, Rafael and Felipe

I don't have a photo of my whole host family but these are my host brothers, Rafael and Felipe

My weekend host family was so sweet

My weekend host family was so sweet

2 current exchange students and a minion

2 current exchange students and a minion

What better represents the US than the Grammys

What better represents the US than the Grammys

You can’t tell but the Indian girl tried to climb up first and fell head first into the water

You can’t tell but the Indian girl tried to climb up first and fell head first into the water

All of us in blazers and our new polos (it was way too hot we were dying)

All of us in blazers and our new polos (it was way too hot we were dying)

The other exchange students were lame and didn’t use costumes

The other exchange students were lame and didn’t use costumes

Near the end of Hopi Hari (I’m holding my friend up cause he was too short)

Near the end of Hopi Hari (I’m holding my friend up cause he was too short)

Rotex Trip to São Paulo

Rotex Trip to São Paulo

My friends are obsessed with Polaroids

My friends are obsessed with Polaroids

It’s not exchange if you don’t do this tbh

It’s not exchange if you don’t do this tbh

I didn’t mention it but I did go to the Amazon

I didn’t mention it but I did go to the Amazon

Generic Amazon shots

Generic Amazon shots

I spent my whole time talking about saying goodbye so I might as well include my friends

I spent my whole time talking about saying goodbye so I might as well include my friends

More friends photos so I look popular

More friends photos so I look popular

We all slept in a boat on hammocks in the Amazon and got this gem

We all slept in a boat on hammocks in the Amazon and got this gem

Machu Picchu too lol

Machu Picchu too lol

Journals: Colson-Brazil Blog 2017-18

  • Colson, Outbound to Brazil

    Alright so the time has finally come, I’m gonna write my third and final journal. (I meant to do like at least 2 others this year but I’ve been busy and I apologize deeply). The time has also come for me to say goodbye, it’s my final month and everything is coming to a close. We all went into this experience with some expectations, some were met, and others weren’t. But we’ve all come out on the other side with a new understanding of ourselves and our little world we call home.

    This week I said the first of many very hard goodbyes, my dear friend has gone back home to Denmark and started the process of shrinking our friend group. In the coming weeks other exchange students I care deeply about will board their planes and say a final “see you later” for the time being. In 23 days I’ll be boarding mine and leaving behind a life I built from the ground up. It’s strange to think about this because I know exactly what I’m going home to, but it’s almost as terrifying as boarding the plane to take me here.

    I learned a lot this year, to be quite frank I learned more than I thought I would. I learned the obvious things, Portuguese, Brazilian music, and Brazilian culture. But I learned a lot of things I never expected. I learned about the existence of a tiny country called Timor Leste, I learned random phrases in countless languages, I learned how to make friends with people who seemingly have nothing in common with me. I learned how it’s all the little things that we take for granted, we know how things are and don’t even think of how they could be different, because it’s just how it’s always been.

    Making friends truly is the best and worst part of doing an exchange. They bring you so much joy and make everything go from good to great. But this is what makes it so sad when you have to say goodbye. I’ve bonded better with people in 10 months than most people I’ve known since I was 5 years old. They say an exchange students heart is always broken because it’s spread around the world, and it’s true. But it’s the best kind of broken because I know that my friends will always have those parts with them and our bond we’ve formed was forged in fire. We’ve been through each other’s highest highs and lowest lows, and that’s what’s so beautiful about this year abroad, our friendships.

    But all good things come to an end, that’s what we all know going into an exchange, one day we go home and start up our old lives again. I have to go to college and get a job, that’s reality and I’m not looking forward to rejoining it. But an end doesn’t have to be the end of everything, with friends in the four corners of the earth the idea of traveling has become much simpler and more attainable. I know I have many homes that will be open for me in brazil always, but also in Germany, India, Indonesia, Denmark, Timor and many others. My friends all know that the same deal is available for them in the Sunshine State itself. I’m excited to enter this new chapter of my life where the world really is my oyster.

    Click HERE to read more about Colson and all his blogs

  • Colson, Outbound to Brazil

    Alright so I meant to do this months ago. And I was strongly encouraged to do this about a week ago, so it’s finally here. My second journal about my wonderful life in Brazil.

    I’d like to start by saying that I’ve been putting this off because I’ve had a whole lot of events that I wanted to include that were week after week. Actually my graduation/prom is tonight but it’ll just wait until the next journal because I need to just pony up and do it. I also want to say in my last journal I mentioned not going to Rotary, not 5 minutes after posting it my host mom told me I had Rotary that night, and now I’ve been at least twice a month for meetings. I promise I’m not slacking on all of my responsibilities.

    Anyways onto the good stuff, what’s actually been going on during my exchange. About 2 weeks after my first journal we had our district orientation for all of the new inbound exchange students. I feel blessed to be from RYE Florida because I knew everything they said before they said it. Extensive training sessions are something to be grateful for! My district has just about 32 exchange students in it, a third of them are Mexican so I got to hear a lot of Spanish that weekend. (Just that weekend because Brazilians speak Portuguese and not Spanish). We stayed in another city with host families that weekend, the family I stayed with were a blessing, they had the cutest son he was only five years old and he loved to talk about Cars. (The films not the vehicles). Overall it was a great chance to meet the other exchange students and make friends that I know will last a life time.

    The next big event was the Rotex organized trip to Hopi Hari, an amusement park in the state of São Paulo. Almost all of the exchange students went and we had such a good time. The whole trip cost about as much as the admission to a Disney World park, so I’m glad about that bonus. My group actually spent most of the day tailing the Rotex. They’re actually really cool people and I recommend everyone try and meet their Rotexes and get to know them. About halfway through the day I gave up on rides and became the designated bag sitter, but it was still fun and I got to ride the important rides. The day ended with a huge party in front of the main stage at the park, everyone was involved and some exchange students ended up on stage dancing for everyone to see.

    The very next week was Halloween and my school threw a party and I dragged all of my friends to it. I went as a zombie because I’m too cheap to buy a $20 costume and I packed to many T-shirts and could afford to tear one up. My great friend did zombie make up for me and I really looked like a corpse (which was great because by the end of the night I felt like one). My class organized the party and also worked the haunted house. So I went through with other exchange students who were freaking out while I couldn’t stop laughing. That was a great night.

    After that my friend invited me to go with him and his family to their beach apartment. Being the good exchange student I am I said yes. We went to a little beach town called Ubatuba and I got sunburnt on the very first day. But it was fine his family was so sweet they went and got aloe even though literally none of them get even close to burning in the sun. My Mexican friend went with us too, I’m pretty sure he ended up burning by the time we went back home. While we were there we spotted a rotary world fair (you can’t escape rotary, they’re everywhere). One night at the world fair all of that districts exchange students went so I got to meet more people from around the world. We actually only got noticed because during the talent show that they were putting on, I obnoxiously shouted USA! USA! for the girl from Texas. The chairmen of that district pulled us aside and took us on stage. He knew not only our countries but also our names, Rotarians know all, keep that in mind kids. The night was fun and we ate tacos that the Mexicans disapproved of. I ate so much food going to a beach in Brazil is essentially going to a buffet.

    Then I did a Thanksgiving with my Portuguese teacher’s English class. We ate a lot of popcorn and burgers and said what we were thankful for. I did a lesson for them on what thanksgiving is completely from memory. I would recommend not trying to sum up the entire history of a holiday from memory, take the time to just write some note cards for yourself.

    One week later I went with my brother and my Portuguese teacher to Curitiba, a city in the south of Brazil, to learn more about different cultures in the country. We took a historic train tour and got an overview on the region. I had a really great all you can eat Italian dinner there in a restaurant we were all underdressed for.

    Last weekend we went to São Paulo with the Rotex and we got a tour of the city. We visited museums and the classic tourist traps. I drank really good boba tea in China Town and enjoyed the classic Mortadella sandwich from Mercadão in São Paulo. It was almost the size of my head and it was so good. We visited a different outdoor market and ended up spending so much time taking photos that no one bought anything.

    So if you’re still with me, congratulations, now I’m gonna talk about what I think is more important. What life is like here on a day to day basis. Everyone wants to hear about trips but exchange isn’t all about trips I promise.

    I just finished school and I’m on summer vacation, but while I was in school I was getting up at 6 am for class and coming home around 1 for lunch. Now I’m getting up around 11 for breakfast and having lunch at 1 still. Where I’ll be going to school next year is actually up in the air at the moment. My school actually closed this year, the director is going to open a new school so hopefully I’ll be going there but it’s not set in stone. I promise I’ll be going to school I am aware that I’m an exchange STUDENT.

    After school I usually spent one of two ways, I either ate lunch and took a nap before an event at night. Or I ate lunch and went to my good friend Pedro’s house (more about him later). I had a couple of things I did at night, primarily because Brazilians just prefer to do things later in the day. Every Monday I went to interact, every few meetings we went around the room introducing ourselves and I always got a laugh from my classic line “Hi I’m Colson from the United States, and I’m a really cool exchange student.” Tuesday and Thursday I have capoeira classes. (Capoeira is a Brazilian martial arts developed by run away slaves that disguised it as dancing practice when it became outlawed). Monday and Wednesday I was taking handball classes, I’m not great but it’s not at a competitive level so it’s a good way to make friends. Fridays I have Portuguese classes so I can keep improving my language. When my mother told me I’d be super busy in Brazil like I was in the US I told her she was crazy. Mothers tend to be right. There’s always something on Friday and Saturday night, someone’s having a party or friends are going to the movies at the mall. I’ve had multiple people complain that I’m impossible to do stuff with because I’m too busy, and I think that’s a mark of a successful exchange, I don’t have the time to be wasting. (I don’t consider an afternoon nap a waste, especially considering my host brother and father take them too, it’s cultural exchange).

    About my darling friend Pedro, and the important reason you want to make local friends. I probably have spent more time in his apartment building than in mine, because he’s so active in trying to do as much as possible with exchange students. But one day I was explaining to him that I wasn’t sure what I was doing for my next host families, because the two others I had backed out of the agreement and my counselor thought it’s better I don’t live with families forced into hosting. Pedro didn’t think twice and just said “ok come live with me.” I honestly thought he was just kidding because that’s a big offer, but he went and asked his mom and last night the family met with my counselor. I officially have my second host family now because my friend is really just that great.

    This is barely scratching the surface of what it’s like here but I’ve rambled on long enough. All I can say is thank you to Rotary for giving me this chance to build a life for myself in Brazil, the most beautiful country on Earth.

    Click HERE to read more about Colson and all his blogs

  • Colson, Outbound to Brazil

    Howdy hey y’all, I’m here with a great update on everything I’ve been getting up to here in Brazil. So it’s been about a month since I arrived, I wanted to have this posted on a month exactly, but one month fell on a friday and my weekends are literally ten times busier than weekdays so this got put off a little. But the weekend is over and I’m ready to crank out this journal so y’all know I haven’t dropped dead.

    I’m gonna start out with a little comment that my friends would greatly appreciate being mentioned. They want everyone to know brazilians do wear clothing and there are not monkeys hanging out everywhere. You would be astounded how many people have asked me “Did you think all brazilians are naked living in the jungle with monkey best friends?” So I really just want to make sure everyone is aware Brazil is just as advanced as the rest of the world. That being said one day there was a monkey at my school and literally everyone was hype and busted out snapchat to brag to their friends (myself included of course).

    Now that the formalities are out of the way let me just say, exchange is weird… Like all the little things that I took advantage of at home are just slightly different and make me do a double take. School works differently and not seeing the same teachers everyday or doing the same subjects is weirdly disconcerting to me. Three reais are worth one dollar so I look at price tags and have a mini heart attack before realizing that I’m actually getting a decent deal on most things. The showers are different too and luckily I did manage to figure them out after a few tries.

    “If we made fun of you we’d do it in English so you would understand” -A quote from my friend my first week of school. My friends are really similar to my American friends, they’re really sweet but also we bully each other for fun. I’m so thankful that my principal's daughter is in my class and did exchange before. He essentially had her round up her friends to be an impromptu welcoming committee for me on my first day of school, AKA my second day in Brazil. They’ve quickly become my best friends and also are probably the best Portuguese teachers out there. My “studying” was haphazard at best before I came and now I can carry on a fullish conversation with people. Also brazilian are super outgoing and forward, and they expect the same from me which is not also super in my comfort zone. But being on exchange is all about being outside of your comfort zone so I’m just trying to do as they do and hoping for the best.

    Side note for all the future exchange students who may end up reading this: just trying to speak the language impresses people so much, they love seeing someone put in effort and will be way more likely to talk to you if they see you care.

    My host family is so nice here and they are so adaptable. I’m not sure if it’s misunderstanding the language or it’s the culture or it’s a continuation of my old bad habits, but usually I have no idea I’m going somewhere until the day of and I end up springing it on my family that I need a ride. They’re always super chill about it and usually send my host brother to shuttle me around the city to get to somebody’s house. Or more importantly, shuttling me home at midnight with minimal notice. Apparently that’s an early night here though so they have no problems whatsoever. Or they haven’t expressed any I’m not sure. I swear I’m working on figuring out my plans in advance and I’m not going to do this to them all year, I promise. My host brothers are super nice and have gone out of their way to include me and take me with them to parties and to soccer (futebol) games. FYI parties are just part of life in Brazil they aren’t anything special like in the US, I’ve been to at least 2 a weekend since I got here. And as great as that sounds in theory, it’s actually exhausting in practice. This weekend I was at a family party and was actually visibly exhausted they just kind of showed me a bed and I ended up waking up right when clean up started, whoops.

    My interactions with Rotary here have been… scarce. I’ve been to like 3 different Interact clubs and to Rotaract but I’m not positive if I’ve actually been to a legit club meeting for my host club. I went to this like “world fair” that was put on and there were like 7 or 8 other inbounds and a couple of rebounds and we represented our countries to a Rotary club, but I don’t think it was mine. Our district was supposed to have an inbound orientation in mid August, which has now been set back twice and is going to be at the end of September. This is fine because now I just have that much more time to work on my Portuguese to try and make myself look brighter than I really am to my District Chair. I’m going to figure out this Rotary situation I swear.

    I’m blessed by the fact that I live in a city with so many inbounds, especially because they all are desperate for something to do so there is always someone who wants to meet up. Last weekend we played paintball, which I have never done before. I ended up getting shot in the face protector twice, luckily that had the most protection so I’m not walking around covered in welts. We have a running joke between us now, “Pray that I will be rich and be able to visit your country”. Unfortunately I have had to say the first of many goodbyes. In my class there was a girl from Germany doing the STEP program and Sunday was her last day here in Brazil. Goodbyes are never fun and she was always saying she wished she did the long term program because one month just wasn’t enough time. This is a reminder to me about how short exchange really is and how I need to take advantage of this great opportunity, it’s too easy to let this go to waste.

    Now that my very brief recap of the many many things that have happened in this month is over I want to say thank you. Thank you to Mrs Paula and Mr David for coming to Pedro and showing me this great opportunity. Thank you to my parents for both allowing and funding a majority of my exchange, none of this would be possible without y’all. Thank you to my friend Nikki Johnson who went before me and showed me and my parents that it could be done. Countless Rotarians and Rotexes put in work every year to make this program as a whole possible so thank you for facilitating the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Also thank you to whoever designed the RYE Florida training system, I was talking with other inbounds and they didn’t have anything similar and I honestly feel like the constant motivation from Florida really has helped me out tremendously.

    Click HERE to read more about Colson and all his blogs

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