Oi! My name is Kate Guiney and I will be completing a long-term Rotary Youth Exchange to Brazil in 2018 to 2019. I will have graduated high school so it will be my gap year before going to college to study film and psychology. I am seventeen years old and have lived in Granville, Ohio, my whole life. My two greatest passions are acting and singing, and I often go on hikes and visit museums in my free time. I can’t wait to fully immerse myself in a completely new culture and gain so many new experiences. I have been lucky enough to travel to multiple European countries throughout my life, but I have never been South of the Equator, and I am so excited for the opportunity to do so. I completed a short-term exchange to Finland in the summer of 2016, and it was one of the best and most humbling experiences in my life. I am very grateful for my Rotary Club and Rotary International for making this possible for me.
October 1, 2018
I’m currently in my third month of living in Brazil, and I am loving it! I adore the food, people, culture, and almost everything else. It’s hard to believe I’ve already been here so long, it’s going so quickly!
I am currently living with my first host family, and their kindness and generosity have been a wonderful introduction to the welcoming nature of Brazilian people. I live with my host mother, host father, one host sister who is twenty years old and studying dentistry, and the Chihuahua, Billy. I speak to them only in Portuguese, which has helped me to become much more comfortable with the language.
I attend school every weekday from 8am to 5pm, with the exception of morning classes only on Wednesday and Friday. School here is different from school in Ohio in many ways that I didn’t expect. For example, it is very different for me that each grade stays in one room while the teachers move to them! I have made many Brazilian friends at school, and they have helped introduce me to so many traditions and delicious foods! While it is a stereotype in the United States that Brazilian people are good dancers, my school friends have only proved that stereotype to be (mostly) true! A goal of mine is to learn at leasts the basics of Samba dance before I come back to the USA.
I have been really involved with Rotary and Interact here. I have Rotary meetings every week, and while I can’t always understand what the meeting is about, I have always felt very welcome and I always eat delicious dinners. I have presented to them about various activities I’ve been doing, and I plan on making them chocolate chip cookies soon to share a bit of my own culture! I also attend Interact meetings every week, and I have really grown to love the group of passionate teenagers that comprise it. Just this past weekend, I went to an Interact event with many Interact clubs in this district, and it was so much fun!
I have also grown to love the other exchange students I’ve met here. There are 37 of us in the district, and two others that live in my city with me. We had a meeting together in Foz do Iguaçu a few weeks ago where we got to visit Paraguay and see the beautiful Iguaçu falls! It was one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve even seen, and reminded me just how lucky I am to be here.
Here are some pictures:
November 1, 2018
It is beginning to heat up quite a bit here in Brazil as Ohio turns to winter! It has definitely been a strange experience preparing for Halloween in the springtime. Halloween is definitely celebrated differently here, with not too many people dressing up or trick-or-treating, but it has been so cool to see how this holiday is shared across so many countries!
This month has been very exciting for me! I have been travelling every single weekend! The first weekend was with the other exchange students in my district to Foz do Iguaçu, the second was to the beautiful city of Morretes with my second host family, the third was to a small city close to my own with Interact, and this weekend I went to the city where all of the prospective outbounds are taking a test to get into the exchange program. It has been incredible to see so much more of my state and to get to know the different parts of Rotary even better.
This month, my class had a week of exams, which I also took. I wasn’t able to understand everything, but I did get 100% on both the English and the Math tests. Surprisingly enough, I also got the best grade in the class on the Portuguese grammar test! My teacher, peers, and I were all shocked. This definitely felt like a success to me, and I made sure to tell my host family afterwards out of pride.
I have also made much more of an effort to learn about current topics in Brazilian culture. This month, the Brazilian presidential elections are occurring, and I have seen so much propaganda for different sides that I decided to do some research about it in order to be informed. I think that keeping up with the current events here helps me understand the culture better as a whole, and allows me to have more insight into the lives of Brazilians. I haven’t been learning in order to develop judgement or opinions about the political candidates, but rather to simply be informed about another aspect of life here and keep an open mind to people of differing opinions. Learning what people think of their own politics here is a unique point of view that I probably wouldn’t get from outside of the country! I continue to find interesting and unique aspects of my exchange that I never expected.
As time goes on, I continue to be so grateful for everything that people are doing for me here. Once again, thank you so much for giving me this incredible opportunity!
Here are some of the pictures of my travels over the past month!
December 1, 2018