Devon, Outbound to Brazil

How four months have flown by so quickly, I will never know. So much has happened in what seems like such a short time. As I’ve walked in the shoes of a Brazilian, I’ve seen myself change in more ways than one.

For starters, I’ve become very bold in the time that I’ve been here. I have come across many chances for public speaking, and have earned opportunities because of this. Just last month, my Rotary club invited me to speak at a dinner with all of the Rotary Clubs in my city, as well as the Governor of our district. Wearing my blazer and a nice dress, I gave a speech in Portuguese detailing the importance of Rotary, as well as the importance of Rotary Youth Exchange. I was applauded for my efforts, and gained the recognition of the Governor. It was thrilling and empowering all the same.

Due to me living in the Southern Hemisphere, summer is currently in full swing, regardless of it being December. Likewise, summer break has also started. Since I do not have school, I have had an abundance of time to experience my city. If you thought America was crazy about Christmas, you should see Brazil. In early November, my city decorated the whole downtown area, and had a giant Christmas parade. They then rented a Ferris wheel and a train tour. I was so flabbergasted by the amount of effort that went into the Christmas celebrations. I went to a town with a population of 4000 people that had a Christmas firework show that would trump many of America’s Fourth of July shows easily.

Speaking of Christmas, for the first time in my 18 years alive, I spent the holidays with someone other than my family. It was a weird change, however, not a bad one. I spent Christmas by going to my host club president’s house, and celebrating until 1 in the morning. The next day, I exchanged gifts with my host parents, and then went to a party on a farm with all of their extended family. All 11 siblings of my host mom were there. We had Brazilian BBQ, known as Churrasco, as well as a buffet of desserts. The gift that I received for Christmas is both thoughtful and hilarious. I am always joking with my host mom that she needs a cat, which is usually shut down by laughter. For Christmas, my host mom gave me a Beta Fish that she appropriately named “Gato”, meaning cat. He is adorable, and I couldn’t be happier. I gifted my host mom a cute succulent plant, and I gave my host dad a Bible stand. Overall, it was a memorable Christmas.

I absolutely love my host dad, but we don’t always have things to talk about. His whole life revolves around work, church, and soccer. Recently, however, I was able to have a really cool bonding experience with him. Though I am not religious, I was given a Bible that is in both Portuguese and English when I left for Brazil. I don’t use it often, so I decided to let my host dad borrow it since he was interested in learning English. I ended up sitting with him and teaching him English phrases from the Bible for well over an hour. There was no religion being pushed onto me, or forced conversations, purely me teaching English to my Brazilian host dad. I have felt much closer to my host dad ever since, and I feel more and more like I am part of the family. My host mom has even started calling me “Filha”, meaning daughter.

Of course I have had days where all I want in the world is to smother my mom in hugs. I have had days where I miss my family so much that it hurts my chest. However, as I spend more and more time here, the more I feel like I never want to leave. I’m dreading the day that I will have to say goodbye, but as I creep on my fourth month in Brazil, I know that the fateful day is drawing closer as well. It’s a difficult reality when you have two homes. Both hold memories and loved ones. My life already will never be the same, both for the good and the bad. I hope to make many more memories in the months to come, now especially since they are numbered. I can’t wait to see what else my exchange has in store. Captains Log: This has been Devon L’Heureux, Brazilian in training, signing out for now.

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