2004-05 Outbound to Brazil
Date of Birth: May 29, 1988
Hometown: Flagler Beach,
School: Home Schooled
Sponsor: Flagler Beach Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida USA
Host: São Paulo-Saúde Rotary
Club, District 4420, Sao
|August 10 Journal - "I
dropped my suitcases right in the middle of the floor and hugged and kissed
and hugged and kissed (lots of hugging and kissing)."
|September 18 Journal and
Pictures - "I even bought my first Brazilian bathing suit...there are
nothing to them....I could just buy some postage stamps and some dental
floss and it would be about the same."
|November 16 Journal and
Pictures - "There was a waterfall where you can jump 18 meters off a
platform into the water below. Just one quick little tip, don't jump from
that high up in a bikini... it doesn't end well."
|December 26 Journal and
Pictures - "When I arrived back at my host house I had the same feeling
you get when you're away from your home for awhile. It was the sensation
that I was home."
|February 14 Journal and
Pictures - "An entire year is a long
time, right??? Wrong, when you are an exchange student it's not. Rotary takes
the clock that we run our lives by and they throw it out the window!"
|June 18 Journal and Pictures
- "I am a part of Brazil and Brazil is a part of me! And no matter how long
I am gone or how many other places I visit, Brazil will always be in my
everyone! my name is Kira Chichersky and I am 15 years old. I currently
live in Flagler Beach, Florida, which is a little town south of
Jacksonville. The big "hang outs" here include the nearby ice
cream shop and the pizzeria around the corner (there are no malls ... grrr).
The most important part of Flagler Beach is the *Beach*!!!! Miles and
miles of beautiful coquina sand and majestic crashing waves. Lying out on
the warm sand and watching pelicans dive for their afternoon snack is one
of my favorite pastimes.
The ocean is such a peaceful place to be and it makes
you feel so safe that you never want to leave this entrancing way of life.
Until you look to the horizon and realize there is a whole other world out
there with places you haven't been, things you haven't seen, and a world
waiting with open arms. Which is why I am excited even "beyond
words" (which for anyone who knows me is hard to believe) about going
We moved from Hollywood Florida last year to be closer
to my grandparents who live right next door to us now. I live with my Mom,
Dad, and little sister Tatiana (the best little sister anyone could ask
for). I am currently home schooled due to the fact that my family and I
travel for a living. Since I was eight we have been performing children's
theater shows all around the country. So far I have done over 1000 live
performances, therefore I am very interested in acting and hope to build a
career around it in the future. I also love *LOVE* dancing!!! Anything
from ballet (which I took for ten years) to moving my hips to that Latin
beat (I heard they do a little bit of dancing in Brazil).
I also love photography. Capturing and giving
immortality to a moment in time is a great opportunity. One of my mentors
once told me that photographers are simply "keepers of light".
I just want to take this opportunity to thank the Rotary
Club for giving me a chance to be a part of their family. I have seen this
country and now I am ready to see the world!!!
August 10 Journal
I absolutely LOVE Brazil....it is soo amazing.....Ok ok
let me start from the beginning..
I arrived in São Paulo around 8:20 their time.....before I
stepped off the plane I knew everything about me and my life, and from the
moment I set foot into Brazil my views changed. I stepped into a world where
I had absolutely no clue at all.......the signs were all in a language I did
not understand, people having conversations around me but the words were
unrecognizable to my American ears. The first thing I thought was I have to
find my host family. So I followed the crowd of other disoriented exchange
students. That led to a very large sign that said welcome to São Paulo which
basically meant welcome to customs. We all waited in a very long line
together, all nervous and anxious. It seemed like an eternity knowing that
just behind the doors in front me awaited my new family and a year of
unimaginable treasures to be found.
I walked out those doors with two very large suitcases and
there was my first and second host parents and of course my first host
sister...they were all there with a sign to welcome me.....I dropped my
suitcases right in the middle of the floor and hugged and kissed and hugged
and kissed (lots of hugging and kissing). We took many pictures ...... which
I later found out this would not be the last of them (my first host dad is
obsessed with taking pictures), but it's ok because I love to take pictures
and I like being in them too - you know me, I always like to be in the
My host sister (which I love to death I can't imagine not
having her in my next family) wasted no time in showing me around town. We
went shopping the first day, my mother found that out the hard way (credit
card bill). It was worth it.
OH and the food here is to die for OMG. Nanci our cook is
the best cook ever....oh yea we have a cook and a maid OMG I was so happy
when found out I didn't have to make my bed.. hehehe
Well I have already started school. It's not too
terrible.....I love the people and I already have lots of friends. The only
down side is the getting up early thing (not really a fan that), oh and the
fact I have no idea what the teachers are saying but like my daddy told me
take it one step at a time, and that's what I am going to do. That's all I
can do, learn one word at a time and soon I'll be able to form sentences and
then have a full conversation.
Well I have to go become Brazilian
Tchau for now
September 18 Journal and Pictures
WOW...its difficult to explain sooo many feelings in just
a few paragraphs......I never imagined you could feel so many different
things over such a short period of time.....I have only been here a month
and a half and at times it seems like like its been a life time and other
times it seems as if I just stepped off the plane..........everybody in
Rotary explains your feelings as a exchange student as an emotional roller
coaster....but to me it's more like one minute you're on one of those rides
where you spin and spin and spin and when you get off everything around you
is blurry....at those moments I just want my mommy to hold me until the
confusion and dizziness stops.....then other moments I'm on top of the
ferris wheel, I have a clear view of everything going on.....no one can
bring me down.
I have done soo much over these last few weeks...and there
is still so much more to come..
My host sister had her 15th birthday party.. and here the
15th birthday for girls is a HUGE thing even bigger that sweet sixteen in
the states.. The invitations are even amazing ...... my sister's was a hot
pink envelope and when you opened it there was a poster of her inside .....I
have never seen an invitation like this before but to them it was completely
normal......well, the party was awesome......there were around 200
people!!!!! they closed down a restaurant just for the party...A DJ played
and people danced until they could not dance anymore.... Candles were
everywhere the eye could see.... it was truly a party fit for a princess.
A couple weeks later we all piled into a car and headed
for RIO DE JANEIRO!!!!!!! oh and we piled.. hehehe.. now I know how sardines
feel......hehehe..... before we arrived in RIO we made a stop at the
Basilica de Aparecida do Norte ....it's a basilica that's famous for
healing...people come from all over the world just to pray to Nossa Sehora
de Aparecida (Mary) and they promise different things if they are healed or
their prayer is answered ...so there are cases and cases full of statues
people made or trophies that were won, all of the walls and the ceiling of
this room is covered in pictures of the people that have received a miracle.
Then we headed off to RIO...it was soooo
amazing........mountains and beaches all in the same place....absolutely
Amazing!!!!!!!! Rio is home to all of the most beautiful beaches and as my
host mother informed me the most beautiful butts as well......lol....yes we
spent half the time envying the beautiful butts at Ipanema beach.... lol....
apparently butts are very important here.......I even bought my first
Brazilian bathing suit...I was freaking out in the store....there are
nothing to them....I could just buy some postage stamps and some dental
floss and it would be about the same......hehehehehe
well I have learned a few very important things here in
Brazil......these things are very crucial soo pay attention.. hehe
1. Wear your seat belt at all times!!!!!!!!......the
driving here is INSANE traffic lights, blinkers, and lanes are all
optional.......people here just create lanes... at times I think they all
coat there cars in Vaseline just so they can get by one another.....I don't
think there are any traffic laws.....(but I have gotten used to it ..I've
stopped praying on the way to school)
2. Don't even both attempting to defend your political
viewpoints.....just don't even try...YOU CAN NOT WIN.......
3. Don't try to say anything about any American sport
other than soccer....no matter how much you explain they still think
baseball is that stupid game where us crazy Americans hit a ball with a
stick and run around.......... hehehe.....
so far those are my very important tips...hehehehehe
well I'll chat with you all later
tchau for now
**SHOUT OUTS** I want to send a shout out to my cousins
Brendan, Meghan, and Shaina!!!!!!!!!!!! love you guys xoxoxox
Me standing in front of the Sugar Loaf in Rio
Bunch of friends and me at my sister's party
My host mom and host dad with me at
my sister's birthday party
My host mom and me taking sun at the beach
With my host sister and friends
November 16 Journal and Pictures
OMG well I have been through a lot since my last journal.
First off...I have to say I have learned soo much in the
past month...I have not only learned new things about myself and conquered
things I never thought were possible but I have also come to a new
appreciation for my mom and dad. I didn't know how much I really learned
from them. Every right decision I make I make because of them. Because of
the morals they have bestowed upon me morals that I have learned not too
many people have. They are the reason I am strong enough so I can do
anything and that is what goes through my head each and every time I
struggle with Portuguese or every time I feel lost or scared I just remember
that I can do anything I can do anything because of them. I just wanted to
take this opportunity to thank them.
Ok Back to the updates..... sorry about the mushey
Anyway, This month my host mom and dad took me to the
Broadway play Chicago....It was amazing!!!!!! The entire play was in
Portuguese....I was soo happy that I could actually understand what was
Shortly after my encounter with the play Chicago, my
family took a vacation to Ilhabela a beautiful island with tons of things to
do .......well of course the first two days I was just happy to see a beach
and to get some sun .....The city takes a toll on your tan...lol. Well after
I regained some color my host dad and I went sailing....yes sailing....can
you picture me sailing. I couldn't until I did it ......he even let me let
me steer ....of course I almost tipped the boat over and smacked my host dad
in the head.. but I did it.....hehehe. The town reminded me soo much of
Flagler Beach, everyone was soo laid back it was a major beach town.....but
I think I have been in São Paulo too long
because the first few days it was driving me CRAZY......everything was sooo
slow. I have gotten so used to the fast paced life of São
Paulo but after a few days you really start to appreciate the fact that you
aren't being woken up by planes every 30 min..lol...
***School*** Ok school is still boring but at least now I
can understand a little bit more, and the English teachers are letting me
help them out with some projects...that's definitely a plus.....my butt was
starting to become permanently attached to that desk...lol...
***Birthdays*** I know one thing I don't want to be here
for my birthday.....here when you have a birthday at school they crack eggs
over your head...and some people even pour a bag of flour on you...I think
they missed the concept of baking a cake for the birthday kid not turning
them into the cake....hahahah
***USA*** Something I have found out here is that a lot of
people have very strong opinions about America and our President....I have
been asked every question you can possibly think of ...even to the extent of
being asked if I like Bin laden!!!!!! People have told me they want to kill
Americans and puke on my flag....they even wear shirts that advertise there
opinions......These comments are coming from people who have NEVER been to
the states and are just going by hearsay....as much as theses comments hurt
me .....and make me incredibly sad....I have learned to keep my mouth shut
and keep my head up.....that was a very big breakthrough for me..... But on
the other hand everyone here loves to wear American clothes, eat American
food, watch American TV, and speak our ....hehehe
** Rotary Trip** I just had the best week ever...I just
got back from my first Rotary trip....It was a blast .....140 exchange
students all in one town. if you get that many exchange students together a
trip Wal-mart is exciting...lol. We all headed to Pantanal and Bonito....it
was amazing they had activities planned for us everyday. We went to a park
with 14 waterfalls...it was truly a sight out one of those natural
geographic magazines....there was even a waterfall where you can jump 18
meters off a platform straight into the water below the falls....standing on
top of the platform staring down is one of those contemplating moments ....
all I could think was you only live once go for it!!!! and I did!!! Just one
quick little tip, don't jump from that high up in a bikini.. it doesn't end
From there we went snorkeling and rafting...the water
there was crystal clear...it was perfect... It was like looking into another
The group had a couple of optional activities that they
could take part in .....and one of them was rappelling 70 meters into a cave
and then snorkeling down in the formation filled waters. well only three
girls seized that opportunity...and I was one of them...all I have to say is
that was one of the most amazing and fulfilling things I have ever done, it
was definitely one of those things I will never forget (and I took enough
pictures to be sure of that..heheh)....
Well me and two other girls headed off to complete our
adventurous task...On your way down to the cave the first things you notice
is this little wheat thin with ants floating in the water ...as you get
closer you realize that the wheat thin is the platform we are supposed to
land on and the ants are the people ...lol... After rappelling down to the
wheat thin...hehehe... the other girls and I attempted to get into our wet
suits...key word attempted ...omg...it was like a comedy routine...well
after we accomplished that rather difficult task...lol...we hopped into the
freezing cold water (18° c....you convert that to
F ....you expect me to do it? I haven't done math in 3 months..lol) and swam
around the stalagmites for a couple hours...that is an experience I will
never forget, being that close. After we swam around in awe for 3 hours it
was time to conquer our next challenge Rappelling back up the cave...hehehe....easier
said than done...hehehe...after arriving at the surface tired and a little
bruised where the harness had been...lol...I looked down at this huge
crevice in the earth and was like WOW I just climbed up that....I
accomplished something I never thought in a million years I could do.
So far this is what my exchange has been - conquering
things I never thought I could do.
Words of wisdom for upcoming exchange students: Learn
anything anyone is willing to teach you, and try everything... you only live
Tchau for now I love you all
This one is for my baby sis love ya girly...kissy on the
December 26 Journal and Pictures
Nov 27th, it was time too switch families. It was time to
pack up all the junk I had accumulated over the past 4 months (let's just
say I'm going to need 2 more suitcases before the year is over) and head out
to my next adventure. No matter how horrible or wonderful this family was I
was still leaving the only way of life I knew here in Brazil. I was diving
head first into a dark hole not knowing what was at the bottom or who was
going to be there to catch me, if anyone at all.
Me and my host brother
Well my new family not only caught me but carried me into
their home and embraced me into their hearts. They are more than I ever
could have asked for. They have truly accepted me into their family. I LOVE
my brother and sister. I have never had a brother before so this was a whole
new experience. My brother Victor (14) is the sweetest kid ever and my
sister Laima (17) is like my best friend.
Just last week I went to visit my American friend for a
week in a city 2 hours from here. When I arrived back at my host house I had
the same feeling you get when your away from your home for awhile. I was so
happy to see my host mom and my bed and my house. It was the sensation that
I was home. That was when I realized I am really starting to fit in here.
~CHRISTMAS~ I had an awesome Christmas! My entire family
got together and had Christmas eve dinner at my grandma's house with a bunch
of relatives. We had a very diverse crowd that night. My host dad is Polish,
my host mom is Lithuanian, plus another exchange student from France and me
representing the U.S.A. Within one table we represented half the globe.
Let's just say there were a quite a few languages going around the table
that night ... hehehe
They say Christmas is a tough time for all of us and this
is when we will start to get really homesick....and they were right....I am
not going to lie I cried A LOT...... being away from my family for Christmas
was really really difficult.... but I wouldn't trade Christmas in Brazil
with people I have grown to love for anything.
Me, my host grandma, cousin, sister Laima, brother
Victor and my French brother Ismael on Christmas eve
well Tchau for now
FELIZ NATAL (MERRY CHRISTMAS)
I love you all
This shout out is for my Aunt Lori I love you and miss
February 14 Journal and Pictures
|Wow this month has gone by soooo fast (as have the last 6
months). OMG I can not believe I have been gone for 6 months!! I can still
remember leaving my family at the airport and watching them through the clear
glass window as they got farther and farther away and then getting on that plane
and heading off to my year of adventures. It's like it was just yesterday. Every
single person in Rotary told us that in the blink of an eye we would be home,
but I didn't really believe them. I mean come on!!! An entire year is a long
time, right??? Wrong, when you are an exchange student it's not. Rotary takes
the clock that we run our lives by and they throw it out the window!!!!!!! I am
sooo jealous of the new exchange students. They have no idea how lucky they are
to be starting their adventures now, and they won't understand until they have
been here for 6 months and are updating their journals. I guess that's just
the way it works.
Ok, well I guess I'll start from the beginning. New Year's
in Brazil!!!! It was quite a different experience. My family and I drove
down to their beach house, which is always thrilling (the beach does wonders
for the "whiteness"). When we arrived at our destination (3 days before New
Year's) I expected to relax for a few days before the festivities began.
What was I thinking??? That would be what would happen in the states, but
this is Brazil. Therefore the party had already started. I felt like I was
in the middle a war zone due to the immense amount of fireworks going off
overhead. Day in and day out all you heard were fireworks and of course the
sound of the dogs going absolutely INSANE.
Then at last the night I had been anticipating had
arrived. New Year's Eve was upon us. Everyone dresses in white (for purity)
and at midnight we all walk down to the beach. The sand is aglow with
thousands of people, each one holding a candle, waiting for the new year to
arrive. After the countdown almost everyone walks down to the water and
jumps seven small waves for luck. It was a wonderful way to welcome in 2005.
Jan 3rd I headed off to my big trip with Rotary for 31
days. It was sooo amazing. This trip was a tour of the entire northeast of
Brazil which is famous for its amazing beaches. On the way to paradise we
stopped off at the capitol, Brasilia. This is probably the most interesting
city I have ever been to (architecturally speaking). All of the buildings
look as if they are from another planet. They are all shaped to look like
discs and spheres (it was very "sci fi"). Aside from the architecture, the
highlight of this part of the adventure was getting to have a political
debate with our tour guide (and in Portuguese no less....heheheh...).
Our next stop was Lengois. A quaint little town with a lot
of character and many treasures waiting to be discovered. Our first priority
was to visit the natural wonders this town had to offer, but to get to our
destination required A LOT of hiking ........more hiking then I have done in
my entire life!!!!!! My legs were quite mad at me for some time (they miss
Florida and the lack of hills). The pain was well worth it. We saw the most
beautiful waterfalls, natural swimming pools and caves in the world. One of
the waterfalls was not like any waterfall I have ever seen. It was more like
a thin layer of water running down this huge, flat, slanted rock. We were
all allowed to slide down the waterfall on our butts!!! NATURE'S WATER
SLIDE. It was a blast!!
After our day of sight seeing we had some free time WHAOO!!
We were all very happy when we had free time. So what do you think we
did???? shopping !!!! of course .... as exchange students our job is to buy
as much junk to remember our stay as possible...lol. After cleaning the
stores out, a few exchange students and I sat down to enjoy the scenery and
listen for the sound of foreigners (there were a lot in that town). When
suddenly we see half the group of exchange students running down the
street.. of course we didn't think anything of it ....I mean we're exchange
students, we randomly do strange things. It turns out Orlando Bloom was
staying in a hotel nearby....crazy huh?? He even came by and took a look at
our hotel and talked with some of the some of the exchange students.
Needless to say, all of us girls were on cloud nine for a couple of days.
Finally the beach!!!!!!
We arrived at our first beach of the trip. It was amazing.
My best friend and I were able to go horseback riding down the beach.
Imagine, watching waves crash on the shore.... washing up sand dollars while
you gallop down the coast. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, huh??
One of the best parts of the entire trip was probably the
times we got to spend with each other on the buses. We lived in those buses
for almost a month. We were bound to get close and have some good times.
Between the great talks with friends, movies, arguing over the music and the
volume at which it was played, only brought us closer.
We all left that trip with a new knowledge of Brazil and
friendships that will last forever. Oh and you can't forget, a few back
aches as well....lol...hey, try sleeping on that bus. We tried everything.
My friend and I even attempted sleeping in the overhead compartment ...hehehe..
what can I say, we are exchange students.
well tchau for now beijos love you all
*shout outs* I want to send a shout out to my best friend
Megs, miss you girly!
My best friend Michelle and
I at one of the beautiful
beaches in Bahia
Buggie Ride!! One of our many adventures: Kaity (US),
Ashleigh (Canada), Michelle (US), and ME!
The Christ statue in Rio
Capoeira - the Brazilian
The great capital city
Me and Michelle again
June 18 Journal & Pictures
|Wow... this journal has taken me a long time to write!!! I
guess it’s because I know it’s going to be my last....... I hope everyone
has enjoyed them, and trust me, when I get home there will be many more
tales to tell.
So here it is, the end of the chapter, and the beginning
of a new book.
March 5th… it was time to switch families again! Switching
families is by far the most dreaded part of the exchange. Not knowing what
to expect and thinking about what you are leaving behind, and of course
there is the packing issue (never fun… and for some reason my suitcases seem
to shrink as the year goes on....). Well I arrived at my new host family’s
home. It took an adjustment period of about two seconds before I was
completely part of the family. I have a wonderful mom named Thais who loves
to shop (good for me … bad for my credit card), a brother Guilerme (14), who
takes great pleasure in annoying me whenever he possibly can, and a maid
named Edna (22) who to me is more like a sister. She is sooo sweet! We have
a lot of fun together. I really love my new family (I know I’ve said that
before but this time I really feel connected to them). They really are my
Speaking of family, my very own American family came to
visit in March! I stood in the airport clutching the cold metal rails as I
stared anxiously at the double doors in front of me (the very same doors I
had passed through into my new life 7 months before). It was the strangest
feeling, because for the longest time I had two separate lives. My life, my
family here in Brazil, and my life and family back home. Now one life was
going to merge with the other. I was not sure what was going to happen or
how I was going to feel, but I wanted to find out. The next thing I knew I
was in my family’s arms! I didn’t know how much I missed them and how much I
had been fighting to be strong until I was in their arms again. All of the
stress and all of the fears and doubts just went away. I was with them and
that was all that mattered. We had a great 10 days! I showed them around the
entire city of São Paulo (and it is a big city...hehehe). They got to have a
glimpse into my Brazilian life. They met my friends, saw my house and school
and some random things that are a part of my daily life. It was wonderful
that they came, but it was even worse when they had to leave. Having to say
goodbye all over again was hard, but it was worth it.
Rotary meetings are usually not the highlight of the year,
but I knew that this particular meeting was going to be special because my
parents were in town (but I never would have imagined how special). It was
the night of my presentation (you know… the presentation every exchange
student dreads… speaking about your life in another language). Finally the
presentation was over! All the attention was off of me…or so I thought. But
my daddy had a presentation of his own! He stood up and sang a song that he
had written for me. It was called “On Santa’s Knee” and it was all about
watching me grow up every year at Christmas. Definitely a “tear jerker”.
Then about 5 minutes and a box of tissues later the president of my club
called my name and had me and my family stand up next to the podium. They
presented me with a Paul Harris!! One of the highest awards in Rotary that
you can receive. They donate $1000 in your name to the Rotary Foundation. Of
course I was, to say the least, shocked! Shocked and extremely happy.. soo
of course the first thing I did was call AL....hehehe!
PS. I also figured out what our Rotary blazers are
for...they are to keep us occupied during Rotary meetings...heheh
Ok, well it is basically impossible to leave Brazil
without getting obsessed with soccer. It is everywhere you look. Fans of
opposing teams wearing their team’s t-shirts with pride in class. Friends
that are as close as friends could be still looking at each other like "I
love you, but that shirt". The question "What team are you" goes along with
what’s your name and age... I went to my first soccer game back in May and I
was hooked from then on. There were massive amounts of people!! Everybody
was screaming and chanting and they never sat down. It was great! Oh and
this is for Bruno...SPFC é o melhor time do mundo :-P
It seems like I have been here only a few weeks! It has
gone by that fast! But at the same time, when I look back to that first day
(or even the first 3 months) it’s as if I’m looking through an album of old
baby pictures. That person seems so young and naive to me. Never in a
million years would I have imagined when I first arrived that I would be
where I am today. If someone would have told me when I got of the plane that
in 10 months I would be speaking Portuguese without even thinking about it I
would have looked at them like they were insane!!!!! But they would have
been right, go figure!!
I never thought that my last month would be this hard. It
is the most horrible feeling to think that you’re not going to see your
friends and your family (the people that have taken you into their lives and
have been there through all the smiles and all the tears). It is a weird
feeling that you are not going to see them everyday. I am a part of Brazil
and Brazil is a part of me! And no matter how long I am gone or how many
other places I visit, Brazil will always be in my heart. My advice is: go
out and make your mark on the world… but on the way let them make their
marks on you too.
I love you all
Me and my host mom
Me and my family
when they came to visit
Me receiving the Paul Harris
with my family
My family and me standing in front of the cathedral that
marks the center of São Paulo.