Rotary hosts, Brazilians become family during brief stay in Cape

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cooking dinner for more than 30 people is a recipe for chaos, especially when the cooks speak different languages.

The kitchen of Sarah and Dennis Holt was noisy as laughter spilled in between conversations of broken English and Portuguese. Everyone talked over each other just like family -- which is what they became thanks to the Rotary Club's Friendship Exchange program.

Several host families like the Holts of Cape Girardeau welcomed into their home this week visitors from Santa Catarina, a province in far southern Brazil. Both the hosts and the 13 Brazilians are members of Rotary clubs.

For Ticiane Campos, the trip to America was an opportunity to practice speaking English. But she has also made many friends in the process.

"I love all of them," she said of her hosts. "They are very nice and welcoming and very, very patient."

Barbara Port and her husband, Bill, have been hosts for two years. She said the exchange program is fantastic because everyone is friendly.

"They are really family within a few minutes," Barbara Port said. "That is one of the great things about Rotary. You are accepted as a family member automatically."

Despite the language barrier on both sides, she said they did not have any problems communicating or getting to know each other during their two-day visit.

"Sign language and smiles go along way," she said.

The Brazilian tradition of bearing gifts for hosts, especially at dinner, has rubbed off.

"I think many of us in Cape Girardeau have now learned that tradition and bring a bottle of wine or glass of flowers," Port said.

And, in return, the Brazilians take with them a suitcase full of souvenirs after catching the shopping bug.

A trip to Wal-Mart for one dinner's grocery list turned into a two-hour adventure as the Brazilians marveled at the large store.

"Everything is in the supermarket," Campos said in surprise that the store also carried electronics and pharmaceuticals.

Her hosts said small things like that give the Brazilians a glimpse into how Americans live, as opposed to seeing only tourist sites.

That is why in between visiting the Trail of Tears State Park and the Pinecrest Azalea Farm in Oak Ridge, they also visited Procter & Gamble and Ceramo Co.

The group leaves Cape Girardeau today and will finish the 10-day stay in Hannibal and then Columbia.

This is the second time Brazilian Rotary members have visited Cape Girardeau.

cpierce@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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