Breanna Tetrault, Poland 2008-09

April 30, 2009

Dear Northfield Rotary Club,

Breanna Tetreault from Poland here! I wanted to write you all and thank you for providing me with this amazing opportunity I have had before me this year on exchange!

I am slowly realizing how LITTLE time I have left, and I’m not likeing it! My friends and family here are too nice and loveable, and I know them too well to want to leave them so soon! But I know that all good things must come to an end, and that this isn’t going to be completely the end. Some of my friends are already planning on visiting me next summer, and I know I will be back here some day (probably more than once!).

Last week was a Poland exchange student meeting in Crakow, which is in the south part of Poland. During that meeting, we participated in something called “The March of the Living”. It was a memorial march from Auszwic to Auszwic Birkenau (about 3K) with 1000 other youth from around the world. Although the Hallocaust is a hard subject, the march was a very uplifting experience, and I was very gad to be a participant.

Just last friday I finnished school. The class I was in was the “senior class” and they are now taking final exams to qualify themselves for college. Those exams will last almost all of the month of May, so at the moment I am letting those friends study while I visit in on other friends’ classes. I have also planned some trips to different cities here in Poland to see other exchange students and of course to see more of Poland!

For now, I’m going to say goodbye, but I look forward to telling my stories when I get home!! Thank you all again for your support!

Breanna Tetreault

Linnea Johnson, Brasil 2006-07
Hi, I’m Linnea Johnson and I was in Brasil.

When I tried to consolidate the whole year, I found how hard it was, and resorted to making this presentation a little different; more based on what it is I want to get across about being an exchange student, and my year as a whole. It might not be that informative at times, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.

And so it all began… *

The biggest year of my life,*

In a country that was just a place on a map*

And a city that wasn’t even on most maps.*

Arapongas: A city I love because it’s my own and because its small places became oasis’ in a year of transitions.

It’s not Sao paolo or Salvador, but my little town of Arapongas is where it all happened just the same.*

Where the church bells call the city by day, every day,* and the music for dancing loudly penetrates the skies by night,* every night.*

Where getting lost is just another adventure,* and where the ice cream is always .50 cents a cone*

Where a stray dog comes to mass and while everyone’s praying*…. toe nails are clicking on the hard floor.*

Where the churro men at the corners not only sell churros but start conversations and make you laugh.*

Where I sat arm and arm with my friends, in the middle of the square because there was no where else to go, and we wanted to be together.*

Where if it’s rainy I’m the only one on the street, and where I walked anywhere I wanted to go in less than an hour.*

Where everyone was forced to be together when normally the classes of people kept themselves so far apart.*

Where the sun rises just when your nights are over, so you get to have day all over again and never even have to go to bed.*

And in the beginning all I had was family, and that turned out to be more than I ever imagined.*

The families took me in and truly treated me as a daughter*….. they cared so much and made my year a success.*

My first host family – The Brezerzinskis*

Adalton : My first host father who took that role very seriously, while having a great sense of humor and being such a sweet soft spoken man.*

Marcia: My first host mother who pressed me for gossip every day after school and made my wardrobe “brasilian” in the first two weeks.*

Junior: Who helped me with my Portuguese, and was convinced he could make me a little less horrible at his computer games.*

Lais : Who until she went to the US two weeks after I got there, showed me brazil and helped me adjust more than anyone.*

My second host family – The Clarks*

Arlete my manicure companion and mother who put earrings under my pillow and gave the best hugs*

Robert – who talked me for hours about Brasil and its economy, and coffee, and crime and his cows, and antique cars. *

My last family Gomes:*

Where it was always busy, and happy inside and chocolate fondue and pao de queijos were the thing for midnight snacks with movies, and when I got home late lotsa times everyone was still awake anyways.

Where in the beginning it was a hard adjustment to become part of the family but where by the end, I really felt like just that – part of the family.*

My host mom Marcia: who grew tulips in the Fridge, and always took it upon herself to dress me up before going out.*

My host dad who Wilson: who took us all to ice cream late at night on just regular days, if we pleaded enough.*

My sibling that made cookies with me every week so the four of us could indulge in a delicious diner before the parents got home.*

Wilsinho: who I talked to every night on MSN when he was only about 5 feet from me, just so we could be sure we the parents wouldn’t overhear.*

Who would be sent to a party with the task of taking care of me, and I’d end up taking care of him*

Who would arrive every day from college and without fail ask “did you make cookies today”*

Marcella: who I shared a room with, and therefore many nights of little sleep from talking to late.*

Who finally lost her habbit of biting her nails after I decided to paint them bright red everyday*

Who loved to goof off because having fun was a high priority*

And Felipe: The little brother I had never had.

Who called the elevator right when I was leaving… and always wanted me to stay home.*

That stole my diary and started deodorant wars, but was the cutest and sweetest just the same.*

Who always made me feel welcome and apart of the family right from the very beginning.*

My School: Where everyday was a little like a party

Where balls of paper soared and origami creatures were born

Where we tried to catch everyone sleeping at least once, and where during the breaks there were ballet lessons

Where the teachers had the lectures entirely in their heads, and many bounced with passion when they spoke*

Where pencils got stuck in the ceiling and loquinha started a water fight fire extinguisher

Where for the first time in my life I was not an overachiever

Where we passed notes and talked about the weekends all the time

Where school was great!*

Beauty School
Where I stayed for three months, 5 days a week, three hours each day.

Where my teachers became best friends/like older siblings

Where I went from being terrified of the tools to technically almost a pro.

Where they were always wanting to make me up and introduce me to their relatives

Where I brought s’mores, chocolate chip cookies and brownies often because they were so LOVED

Where it felt like I was arriving at my other family when I arrived to work, and where the common conversations always made me laugh hysterically.*

Sweets School
Where I convinced my friends to take a course with me, even when we were the only three not over age 40.

Where we got to wear the cutest shower-caps and take tons of pictures

Where we got to laugh at the funniness of the whole situation and accept our diplomas with pride at the end.*

The Cradle
Where my heart melted every time I went.

Where I wished I had more arms because holding two little kiddos wasn’t enough and it was sad to see them grasp any part of me they could get.

Where the end of the day took forever to arrive but when it did I still didn’t even want to go home.*

Where I spent almost every Saturday lunch, and talked to new people every day.

Where I gave my first presentation to 100 + people only a few days after I arrived.

Where I met other exchange students who became really good friends*

Exchange Friends

My exchange friends were my first friends, which I depended on so much.*

The friends I watched movies and made sweets with after a long day.*

My friends that made the world so much smaller*

I also met Brazilians that will forever be my friends, and the biggest part of my year in brazil, because while a year comes to an end friendships are timeless.*

It was them, who would humor me with walks in the rain and posing in thousands of pictures of their everyday.*

Them with whom I wandered when there was nothing to do*

And there was more than once when I ran for my life across the streets, with them*

And it was more than once that I stayed out past the sun, with them*

And it was them this year that made everything more beautiful,* even in the beginning *….*

and it’s with them who I played truco with until my throat hurt so bad from yelling.*

It was these girls that held my hand walking in crowded places, and made sure not to loose me*

And it was her that was my best friend… always smiling and laughing, and jumping too when I used a “save me” signal at parties.*

And him that was always patient when I tried to learn forro*

And it was her,* and her that befriended me after my first day of school, accepting my smiles because making sense was still so impossible.*

And it was them who understood me and laughed when I made funny Portuguese mistakes like saying bichina instead of bichino, *

With them that* goofing off never* got old, and* life never boring.

*With them, we pretended to be tough guys with our hoods up so we felt safer walking in the streets at night,* and with them that mustache photos were hilarious everyyy time.*

With her that there were shoes complications, and concert complications, but that just made everything so much more exciting*

It was them that claimed to until talk like me sometimes, even when they’d stopped trying to imitate my accent.*

And when school was over, it was with them that I always walked home, picking flowers along the way.

And with them* that we’d laugh* until we’d cry* because how* good everything* was and how it would all be over.*

Wrap up
And so, as you see my year went on, just as time always does without regard to my attempts to stop it.

And my friends all made a good-bye party and lived with me through the hardest day of my life.

And from difficult times I learned to step back (with perspective?)

*And so I went from my first day of school, barley speaking any Portuguese, without any friends or much confidence,* to the day I left with the most wonderful friends and a new sense of confidence and self. *

And in the beginning while a year still felt so long, and I still felt so young, I kept trying

Because while it gets draining, it’d be impossible to succeed without truly trying your best.*

And you cant just blow off a bad day like you can at home where everyone already knows and loves you, as an exchange student it seems people are always evaluating you.*

And as an exchange student you always have to accept invitations and smile, even if you’re just so tired and missing your own friends you’d rather just sleep. *

and from the times when all I could do was look up to the sky at the planes going home I learned to keep myself busy*

And now it all feels like a very large dream that I haven’t forgotten with waking… one that hasn’t even faded with time and one that I’m constantly reminded of in everyday.

*when I’m walking in the street, I’ll think I see carol, and I’ll get all excited, or sometimes I’ll even say something in Portuguese.*

Or when I have something that tastes just a tiny bit like something I had in brasil, it brings me there again*

And now even when I’m back, a large part of me is still in brasil.

And I still look at all the planes going “home” and keep myself busy*…. 39

And even when I haven’t seen the people I love so much in months, they are still the people that I love so much.

So… my time in brasil went from being a whole year to just a year, and time passed faster than ever. It was the most challenging, strengthening, fun, opening, humbling, enriching, and inspiring year of my life. I learned more than I thought possible in a year. I learned to cook brasilian food and do nails. I learned another language, and immeasurable things about myself and the surrounding world. My future will forever be shaped by this experience I had as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. Truly amazing things happen in the exchange program. Thank you all so much for what you did for me in this rotary program.