Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dancing to Laughter

Yesterday I taught my first ballet class here. It wasn't anything fancy it was just in my house. I had three studants, Andressa, Vanessa, and Elaine. They are twelve, nine, and ten. I had them laughing alot because of the analogies I used for them to understand and remember the movements. For example that when they point their feet they have an orange under there foot and they need to point completely or else they won't make enough juice. It went really well.
Then today I learned that three more girls were coming who wanted to learn ballet. So in all there were six. Two six year old twins and an eight year old. I moved the class to the garage so we would have more space. But all through the class more kids showed up, watching from the street. So I invited the ones who wanted to join to come in. Later others came in who just wanted to watch along with the girls' mothers. There were some boys there, I think they wanted to learn too but were too shy. Maybe next time I can bribe them with some "bubbaloo" (gum).
I didn't use any music this time because I needed to teach them all the basics first. Tomorrow I will get music to dance to. So instead of music, we danced to laughter. All of them just seemed so happy. When somebody went to try a new exercise and the others watched, everybody clapped after they had finished. Everybody had big smiles. So we were dancing to laughter.
I was so amazed that so many people are interested in this. I guess to be a ballerina is the dream of many little girls. Even for some who don't have the conditions to make it happen. So I am helping them make it happen. I touched all of there barefeet to show them how to point, their barefeet with the dust of the street. Afterwards they asked me if they could bring socks tomorrow. I told them if they wanted to they could.
When it was over they asked me what they could call me. I told them they could call me whatever they wanted. One little girl named Rafaela came up to me after (she has a twitch where she cricks her neck back every thirty seconds or so) and she said to me in a soft voice that I had to bend down to hear, "Can I call you 'Rosinha'?" I told her that of course she could. It means "little rose" it is an endearment of the name Rose. If these many kids stay wanting to learn ballet I think I will have to use a space at the church across the street to teach them. I also want them eventually to have ballet shoes.
Yesterday I went to meet another Rotary Club. The club called "The Rotary Club of Paracatu 200". I think (logically) that it was created when Paracatu turned 200 years. Which was ten years ago.
The meeting went well and they talked about how people from India will be coming here and how to accomodate them. This is because the only meat that most of them eat is chicken and fish. The girl that will be staying in my host mom's house only eats fish. It is probably difficult for the ROtarian's to comprehend completely because this is Brazil, people eat alot of meat!
On the table during the meeting there were bowls of fried pork. I was eating them when I met the man beside me. He was the son of a rotarian called Mauria who was sitting on my other side. He asked what country I was from. I said India. He told me that I wasn't from India so I told him Canada. I then asked him how he knew that I was not from India. He said it was because I was eating pork....like duh. Heheheh. Before trying to trick somebody about your origin you should probably not overlook a fact like that. Especially since people just talked about how they don't eat meat. Oh well, he probably believed for like a millisecond.
I talked to the President of the Rotary Club. He said he lived in Vancouver for a bit and also took a bus tour through the rocky mountains. Pretty cool. I think he also visited Calgary. He said, "Good city, lots of oil...lots of money." lol. Well at least people see Calgary as a prosperous city.
Yesterday I also went to get my clothes from my first host family's house. I have been living for two weeks with one pair of jeans...and that is the only kind of pants we are allowed to wear in school. Gustavo showed me where my clothes were because Matteus didn't know and was making chocolate/banana pancakes with his two friends Denise and Natalia. He better not forget that I was the one who taught him that. lol. Or I just might have to remind him and steal all the pancake ingredients in Brazil to get the message across that they are a Canadian delicacy. I wouldn't have to steal the maple trees considering that they don't have any...but I guess I could plant some then dig them up after. Well I don't know where I would get the seeds too....ok wow, I am rambling.
SO while I was there I talked to my first mom about Carnaval and she said that we won't be going to another city but staying here because everywhere was too full. I will go to their friends farm again so that will be fun. And also go to see the music and stuff in the street. Lots of people who live in Brazil say that Carnaval is really crazy, and I have been finding that a few people don't even like it! So I am ok with not going to a huge city for Carnaval. I am sure it will be fun and new though.
Today I went to my club's Rotary metting in the morning. I spoke about everything that I have been up to. They talked about the people coming from India as well today.
When I arrived at school I had to wait for the next class before going in. So I sat in a chair near the front office. People passed me by (people in my class) and asked me why I was there. I told them. Then they were off to go back to class. I thought that it didn't really make sense that I wasn't allowed to re-enter the classroom with them, but whatever.
I was really happy in chemistry because I solved a problem all by myself and then got it checked and it was right! My professor seemed really happy too.
After school I went home and ate lunch and then went to a Jazz class. It went well and I am only about two inches away from doing the side splits. The closest I have ever been in my life. I think it is because the heat makes my muscles more malleable. Anyway, it was exciting. And the other people in the dance class freaked out a little.
After I went to school to play basketball and got three baskets! Then did like this gymnastic swimming class thing where we did exercises in the water. My toes started to cramp and would not move. the toe beside my big toe was pressed up against it and wouldn't return back to normal (well as normal as my gnarled ballerina feet can be lol). It hurt so much, I told the teacher and she helped and told me to eat bananas to help it. After the class it happened again and I accidentally let slip some swears in English, but at least that means that people couldn't understand me. Hehe hehe hehe hehe....oops. But the pain was excruciating.
Then I walked home, met Andressa in the park and talked with her, went inside had a shower and when I came outside all the little girls were waiting for me to let them in. I am just happy that I have something to give them. Something I hope they will never forget.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Sarah and I (Man my hair has gotten long!)At her birthday party a few weeks ago/ going away party for Leticia

Yesterday I woke up early to go with Rotary to hand out pamphlets on how to prevent dengue in communities where it is more likely to occur. Nobody has gotten sick yet but there are the mosquitos that spread it so caution needs to be practiced. For example, one woman's water tank does not have a lid so that is an ideal breeding spot. Rotary is going to look into getting one for her. People seemed grateful that we were there to support them against dengue.
There was this one stray dog who followed us the whole time and went up with us when we went to people's doors etc. What a good-natured little guy.
I talked to my Rotary President about dengue, malaria and two other diseases. One of them you get it from dogs. It jumps from dogs to humans. I couldn't help but wonder if our little friend (and his little friends who arrived later on) had it. My President (Adélio) told me how he works for a lab that researches these diseases. I think they research the immunity or something like that. He told me that here does not have malaria but that there is alot in "The Amazonias". He said they have to make sure that an infected person from the Amazons does not come here because if they get bitten by a mosquito then that is how the disease is transferred. I used to always think that mosquitos only bite once, I guess I was wrong. Stupid little greedy blood-hungry creatures!! Lol.
A news team came later on and interviewed Adélio. Everyone stood beside him, so I guess that means I was on T.V. I probably looked really awkward but it's okay.
Afterwards I had lunch and then went to my host parents farm. The country was really beautiful threre and I got to see my host dad's HUGE crop of soya beans. He showed me how the caterpillars have been eating the plants really bad. Today he told me that they are adapting to the spray that is used to kill them. Because there is no winter like in Canada, they stay alive the whole year and therefore adapt more. I told him how I worried about this and thought that in the future they would be like "super bugs" and go out of control and then people would starve because of this. He said that it is a probability.
We drove in a pick up truck so near the end my host mom and I stood in the back. The wind blew a sweet smeell into my face and the breeze was refreshing. I closed my eyes and remembered how I was in Brazil. With all the wind rushing past it felt like I was flying, and then it was so loud it felt like I was on fire and I could hear the roaring of the flames, then I was cold and surrounded by water. I was just about to think that I needed to imagine myself in earth when my host father ran over a wood stump and I was knocked back down to earth with a jolt and opened my eyes. It broke the right part of the front of the truck but the damage wasn't detramental.
We went to one farm and there were these two little kids there. we picked goiba and ate them. To my dismay when I was half-way through mine I saw a plump little worm squirming around, and then another. Because I have my whole "fear of worms" I dropped it to the ground and couldn't will myself to eat another. My host mom laughed at me because of this. She said children that live on the farm eat everything. Well I am sorry, I just can't eat a worm when I know it's there, I can eat ants sometimes, but not worms. Lol.
We then went and picked some limes and also acerola. Along with another fruit that I liked alot. I never tried it before but it is really orange/red, juicy, and sweet.
I went inside to see the little boy's music video that he liked to watch, it was a song about a child who lives on the street. Really sad, and kind of heavy for a five-year old to watch. But I guess it is good for him to know the reality of the world. I played with this darling little puppy who fell asleep on my lap while I watched. He had these enormous bulgy eyes.
I also found a mango seed with a seedling growing out of it. The little girl, the boy, and I planted it. It would be cool if it actually grew and I returned one day to see it bigger. I taught the little girl how to give a high five.
We also went to see where the water is kept that is then transported to water all the crops. The water was a strange murky-grey color I have never really seen before. Interesting how water is different colors around the world.
Later when we went home I ate with the daughter of Christina who works with my host mom. She is twenty and taking bio-medicine. Somehow I ended up showing her some ballet and then telling her that I will start having a class where I will teach some girls who wanted to learn. She said she was interested.
After that I went to my friend's apartment. We talked, laughed and played the game of life, and then ate (again, meals are like "hobbit" meals, you know, "lunch, and then second lunch, and then third lunch" etc. lol).
Her mom made some rice wrapped in seaweed and this soup from euka root. I had it before, it is very good. She said that one day she will teach me how to make it. then we just talked for a long time and laughed alot.
We returned to our game of life and then I went on the computer to show them pictures of my family and friends in Canada and also the News clip of my Mom. Oh yeah, my mom in Canada happened to be walking down the street on Thursday when a man suddenly lit himself on fire. She started to help him and yell so nine other people heard and came to help. It is lucky that my mom has such a loud voice, also that there was an ambulance that happened to be passing by. It is sad that the man did that to himself, it is because he did not want to be deported out of Canada. This just shows what kind of an amazing country I had the privilege of being born in. I can never be too thankful for that. I hope that the man gets better, he is in hospital right now.
They thought it was very sad that it happened and were very interested in the story. Then my host dad came to pick me up.
This morning I left at 7:00am in the morning to drive to another city to visit my host dad's brother and wife. His brother (Eduardo) has a farm as well but grows potatoes. They took me to a huge plantation of carrots, it is where the carrots are grown for most of brasil. I ate one. Hehe. There were carrots in perfect rows for as long as the eye could see, and where it ended there were coffee crops.
Then I went to my host Uncle Eduardo's potatoe crop. There are lots of caterpillars eating there too. He let us take some potatoes home. They are the less attractive kind because they are used to make "Elma Potatoe Chips" in the states!! So if you ever eat some of those, just think that you could be eating potatoes from the same farm that I visited! Cool huh?
His wife (Helena) gave me a nice little red pouch as a present that she made to keep earrings in etc. It was very nice.
Then I drifted in and out of sleep on the car ride home and went to sleep when I got home. Then woke up, ate, and then went on the computer. I use chop sticks to eat alot here with this host family, I just thought that was an interesting thing for you to know. Also that we eat alot of Japanese food including "tempuro" (not sure of the spelling), friend vegetables in batter. I just thought you might want to know that to be a little jealous. Heheh :P
I would also like to say; HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!! People don't celebrate it here but I am pretty sure most of them know what it is. I hope you all had a good one!! And also, I left it to last because it is pretty important, to my sister and Ryan (the newly Wed's) who married on Feb. 14, 2009, the anniversary of when they met,


P.S - the link (if it shows up) is to the news story


Ok I don't think it showed up (or at least I can't see it) so just copy and paste.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pancakes, Giraffas, and Gabriel's 4th Birthday

I look overly happy, the birthday boy, Andressa, baby Gabriela, and my new Host Mom

Natalia (with my stuffed penguin doddle), Laíza, Luiza, and I with "Bubbaloo" (the translation for bubbalicious gum, awesome huh?)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey Jude; it's been four months

Today marks the end of my fourth month in Brazil. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!
I have been doing alot lately. Yesterday I went to school, came home, ate lunch, and then went to my second jazz class. I really enjoy dancing again, even all the sweat feels good. Hahah my host mom makes me bring a towel with me. Sorry, that could have been a fact that you didn't need to know. Lol. But it's amazing how muscle memory works, my body is like right back where it used to be and remembers all the different movements. Although it does cramp like crazy sometimes. Sigh, I'm not as young as I used to be..hehehehhee. I know my mom would probably yell at me for saying that.
After dance I went back to school and played basketball. The last time I actually played I was thirteen (I know, it's sad) but I was awe stricken when the coach let me pick teams. I do have a height advantage, I was the tallest one there. I am like a giant. Every family I stay with I like tower over everybody, I am this giant from the land of ice and snow. Heheheh. This girl that I picked to be on my team asked me if it was cold in Austrailia, I told her that I was from Canada and that it is cold there. I also reminded her that Austrailia is hot like Brazil. It seems to be a trend lately that people think I am an aussie, probably because of my rugged giant look.
After we played I walked home/ran home. In the heat. But wasn't hot. It was strange. I just felt like running. I saw little Gabriel, his mom, and baby Gabriela leaving their house so I walked a little with them.
Oh I forgot to tell you what happened in school. I went to the laboratory and saw a human head cut in half, a whole preserved human body, fetuses, etc. I have to admit that I was surprised how well I handled it. Like I have been trying so hard to avoid having to look at that sort of thing but I have to be honest, it was pretty interesting. It is a little weird now though because I can't help but think to myself that the whole time I have been going to school "Fred the head" and "buddy the body" have just been laying there (Yeah, that is what I named them) waiting.. wow my blogs have really gotten...interesting. But still, I am playing basketball thinking, "Yep, Buddy's there, in that room I can see right now while I bounce a ball around that isn't at all reminding me of a human head..."
Anyway, my host mom told me that a rotarian was going to take me to college with her at 6:30pm. Her name is "Laís" and she has an uncanny resemblence to Ashley Tisdale from High school musical. I will eventually get a picture of her and put it beside one of Ashley Tisdale's so you can see. She said that three people have told her this.
We went on the ônibus (public transit bus), it was my first time. On the actually bus there is a gate that you have to pay and then the guy lets you pass. I talked alot with Laís because the drive to her college was really long. Or longer than most drives here in Paracatu. She is taking a course on law because she wants to be a Judge. Everybody takes the same law course and then later branches out into what they want to be. She is twenty years old and the youngest rotarian in our rotary club. It is funny because some exchange students turn twenty in Brazil! she is a really cool person.
She told me that she is the sixth generation grandchild to the grandchild of Pedro Álvares Cabral (the explorer who discovered Brazil!). It's amazing, I actually met a descendent of the man who discovered the country I am in! He discovered it on April. 22, 1500, which is why she is the sixth generation lol.
The college was made to look like Greek Architecture. It is called "Athena's" which would probably explain that part. Laís showed me the different parts of the school, the libarary, and also explained to me how the judicial process goes in Brazil. Brazil is a federation, not a confederation like Canada. It also is not common law here, it is derived from Portuguese civil law. Here is a link if you are interested in checking it out:
I got to go to her class as well. It was pretty cool, I even took notes. I can't lie though, I didn't really understand anything but I think it was something about a pregnant woman.....
Later I looked at the door and there was this guy motioning me to go outside. I just looked away but he kept doing it so I told Laís. It was her friend so we went outside to meet them. They were all really cool. We stayed in the corridors talking after that and I met more people, and also I met the people who tell the people who are in the corridors to leave the corridors. Hahah. It is very similar to my school in Canada. Alot more independence. The people didn't make us leave though because they were distracted......by me. I did my dolphin noises for them and then it lead to one of them asking if there were Kangaroos in my country. Again, with the Austrailian thing. I then explained to them that we don't have kangaroos but have polar bears. Which then lead to the question if I have a bear as a pet. You know, because I ride one to school everyday. I love talking to people about these things, it is really amusing. They were also really excited that Canada has reindeer, because of Santa and all.
Then I met more people and some professors, some thought I was going to school there. They asked me what course I was taking. I also got to see Laís' friends' class which was just a screen with a guy talking on it. It goes to all of Brazil and the guy is actually in São Paulo teaching. She is the only person in the "mini course" which is what it is called. I knew the professor on the screen was from São Paulo before they told me because I could tell from his accent. They sound more like pirates or maritimers. They pronounce "R" like "Arrr" instead of "pushing the R" which sounds more like a French "R" pronunciation. People here in Minas Gerais speak with the "French R" (well that is what I call it) so I speak with it too. When I first arrived I said one word with a São Paulo accent because whoever I had learned it from had one. It was the word for "because". Later I changed the way I pronounced it because I thought I was wrong. It wasn't until later that I realized both ways are correct.
People said that my accent is beautiful...and then tried to imitate it. Which was a little depressing. Hahahah. I am determined to lose my accent eventually (or most of it) even if it takes me getting a speech coach later on in my life. People still say I speak good Portuguese but I still want to lose my "Austrailian" accent lol.
A met a student who is training in medicine (Omg I just forgot how to spell medicine right there, I had to respell it like five times, see, I am losing English!!) and I was stupid enough to tell him that I went to the laboratory at school that day. He then told me that I could come back another day and he would show me the lab there, that has a lot more "things" to look at than my school has (Fred and Buddy). I said okay because it will be a learning experience.
Then we went home on the ônibus. Before we ate and stuff too. I got home at midnight and then did some homework. I woke up at 6:30am this morning. I was really happy because in Math class I showed my professor the work I had done and that I understood it, he was pleased and stamped my paper with the word "legal" which means "cool". But sadly, I fell asleep in Chemistry. I had copied the notes before everyone else because my hand just moved automatically, and laid my head down to wait. But when I opened my eyes the class was over. Oh well, at least I am understanding Math, for once in my life. It is funny because I am understanding it better now than I did in English.
Today I went to sleep after lunch for a little bit because I was just so hot and exhausted. The heat can be really wearing. Right now I have a fan blowing directly on me at the table beside the computer.
Andressa came over later on and we fooled around on the computer a little bit before I had to go to a different Rotary Club's meeting. I showed her Beatles Music.
The Rotary Cloub I went to is called "The Rotary Club of Paracatu" and has been going for twenty years (heheh the same age as Laís). There are lots of members. I saw the other Matheus who will be my next host brother. His sister is in Belgium. It just so happened to be the President of the Club's birthday today as well as another member's birthday. So Helena (my host mom) got this idea that I should sing "Hey Jude" for them. So I did. And it went okay, or at least they liked it. They seemed pretty happy. It reminded me of a time in Calgary with my friends on Steven Avenue at night and we started singing it and then all these random people on the street started singing too. One thing I have learned is that these things are universal; music and laughter. They are part of every culture. Or every culture I know of. They are just part of human culture. That's why I think it is possible to communicate and connect with anyone despite any differences, because what we all have in common is our human-ness.
Almost half of my exchange is over and I am learning alot. I have decided I will do even more now that I am thoroughly settled in here. And sleep less, because I want to savour every moment. An exchange is more than just going to another country, it is going to another world and leaving everything else behind. Going there with nothing and then in that, finding yourself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Second Host Family

I started school again and also switched host families. It was harder than I thought it would be. And I cried. Even though it is kinda funny because the houses are really near each other. It is just difficult because now I miss my old family here and everyone back in Canada. I'm trying not to think of how hard it will be when it is time for me to go. Now I know why exchange students have to go through the whole re-entry program and everything. It's okay though, I really like my new family and will eventually adapt. It's all part of the experience.
School is good. Obviously I understand more now which is really good. After school today I went with André (son of Helena's friend) to an English class. It was cool because when I arrived they were reading about igloos and the Inuit in Canada. I asked them to guess where I was from and they guessed Canada! That was, I think the only time anyone has actually thought I was from there right off the bat. Except afterwards the girl said somebody had told her I was, so it doesn't really count. Also the fact that she looked more Canadian than me, later having everyone point it out. Still, it was cool.
People were awe-stricken when I told them I had met people who live in Nunavut. I told them how they thought it was really hot in Ontario and showed them where Ontario was on the map. We then talked about how if they went to the North Pole they would probably die of cold and if the people I met came here to Paracatu they would definately sweat to death. You know because that is really not morbid at all.
Speaking of morbid, Sunday, the day before my last day with my first host family, we went to their friend´s farm. The morbid thing is that I was sitting down in another room looking into the kitchen, the front door was open and there was a reflection of a chicken walking around outside reflected in the oven door. I just thought that was really, really, ironic. Like that his fate was reflecting him in the face. It was like it was just waiting there for him. Anyway, that is my disturbing observation for the day. How did you like it? Lol.
Later on there were frogs outside and I went to go look at them...until everyone told me not too get too close because they shoot acid from their backs when frightened. Lovely. The frogs I used to play with in Canada didn't have this super-frog ability. Of course they don't have to fight off the kind of predators that live in Brazil (example, poisonous caterpillars) hahah just kidding (but not really because there are poisonous caterpillars).
Anyway, I will stop talking about poison shooting frogs and ill-fated chickens. Because maybe the chickens will end up adapting like the frogs and wearing mirrors on their faces to reflect their fate. HAhahaha. Life is about adaptation. Exchange students have to adapt alot.
So I am going to start dancing ballet and jazz, I am pretty excited about that. I haven't danced in a year so we will see how that goes. Hopefully I will be able to bounce back. Hopefully I haven't lost everything.
I taught Matteus and Filipe how to make pancakes. After they learned they started inventing new kinds. Matteus made pancakes with chocolate and bananas and then poured condensed milk on the top. Now everybody is pancake crazy and they are coming over Friday to have a pancake party. Not only that but they plan on inventing more ways to eat them, I heard something about using this certain kind of Brazilian vegetable so I am just gonna have to wait and see how that turns out. It could be good, you don't know. :). That would be funny if like one hundred years in the future part of Brazil's history is, "There is no certainty as to when Canadian pancakes were first introduced into the country but the benefits would be everlasting..." HAhahaha. You never know, it could happen.
The day before I left my first family a man training to be an engineer came to stay in the house for one month, he is the son of Pai's friend and lives in a city called "Ouro Preta" (Black Gold). His name is Gustavo and he is really nice. I hope he has a nice stay.
I just came back from Gabriel's fourth birthday party. It was really fun. He laughs alot when I make my dolphin noises or monkey face. Afterwards he danced to music, it was really cute. Helena brought a cake for him. It had spiderman on it. I had to eat it really slow because I was really full from eating so much. You know that feeling where your stomache is stretched to the limit but you need to eat to make people happy? Yes, it makes people happy to see me eat and like their food. No joke. I don't just eat for my own means of survival, I eat to spread the love. And love always needs to be spread. Even if it means eating one more slice of bread. Hehehehe sorry for rhyming there, I sound pretty eccentric in this blog entry lol. It's kinda all over the place. From moving houses, to making pancakes with vegetables, to crazy frogs, and chickens with mirrors on their heads. It's just my stream of consciousness thinking out loud that I do. If you can follow it, great. If not, you shouldn't feel too bad, it's kind of confusing.
I should mention that I was writing in my diary the other day (yes I keep a diary too, if you think this is interesting, you should read that) and I thought I was writing in English. After a few sentences I stopped and read it over, only to realize it was in Portuguese! That means I was thinking in Portuguese! But not only thinking it, thinking it as easily as I would think in English! It's just so interesting how the brain learns. I guess I've been watching "Grey's Anatomy" too much, which is also probably why I think I have a tumour beside my nose. No, seriously, there's a bump (and I know what you are thinking, "Emily, are you sure the lump isn't just your nose itself?") I may be a hypochondriac but not THAT bad of one. If it gets any weirder I will have it checked out.
Well, I am really hot and sweaty and tired. I have to get up at 6:00am tomorrow to go to school by 7:00am. I am going to go have a shower now. Although I am somewhat afraid to. I would tell you why but...what the heck, I will tell you. I am convinced that when I try to turn the shower off, I get an electrical shock. Seriously, I don't think I am imagining it, there is like a wire connected to the shower head, and I am pretty sure I know what it feels like to be electricuted. I guess it is the same thing as the tumour, I will see if it shocks me again (to be sure I am not losing it) and then tell my host parents. Okay, cross your fingers for me.


P.S - I have my own personal box full of different types of chocolate in my room, complete with a small garbage for the wrappers. I didn't even ask for it. Can you believe that? How lucky am I? And I haven't eaten any yet, but still! :)