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Editor’s Note: Vicki Vance, member of FF Baton Rouge for 24 years, has been leading Global Journeys for FFI since 1999. In May, she led a Journey with 17 ambassadors from several countries throughout Brazil, experiencing Salvador’s unique Bahian culture and São Paulo’s metropolis. Here, she reflects on some of the most significant aspects of this Journey – the friendships she created and revisited, even many years later.
I recently led a Journey called the “Roots of Brazil” to Salvador and São Paulo. It was a fabulous experience with ambassadors from several US states, New Zealand, Canada and even Brazil, who all learned a great deal about the history, culture, music, dance, food and religion of this country. We enjoyed sharing our meals, beach trips, market shopping, cooking classes and a concert with our wonderful hosts.
What made this Journey especially memorable for me was not only did I establish several new friendships, but I also had the chance to reconnect with many of my Brazilian friends from past Journeys.
Thanks to Ione and Marcos (whom I only knew via Facebook), I arrived a few days early and stayed with them in Jundiai before the three of us went to Salvador.
My main purpose in coming to Jundiai was to see my “little sister,” Adriana, again after eighteen years. My husband, Doug, and I hosted Adriana on a Journey to Baton Rouge with FF São Paulo in 2000 and we have stayed in touch via email and Whatsapp, but had not seen each other since then.
We have shared the difficult times in our lives with the sudden loss of Adriana’s young husband, my brother’s unexpected passing, September 11th, hurricanes, and a major flood in Baton Rouge that uprooted our lives and our home.
We’ve celebrated the happiness of new additions to our families, the excitement of different career paths, and have encouraged each other in new endeavors. There were tears of joy when we saw each other again and we spent hours reminiscing about our time together. Her parents invited me over one evening for dinner and it was lovely to finally meet them.
Although we didn’t speak the same language, our common bond drew us together and many laughs were shared that evening.
In addition to seeing Adriana, I also was able to spend a few hours in Salvador catching up with Teobaldo who had joined me on Discover the Amazon Journey in 2012.
FF São Paulo member, Arany, and I also reconnected from the 2000 Baton Rouge Journey and it was wonderful to see her again. FF São Paulo member, Genie, hosted for the “Roots” Journey, and we talked about the adventures we shared on a 2010 journey to Chile and Argentina.
Jandira, a member of FF Curitiba, came on a 2014 Spanish Language Learners Journey to Colombia with me and flew to São Paulo to join us for a few days. She was thrilled to meet with Linda from Atlanta, Georgia who also was part of the Spanish Language Learners Journey in Bogotá several years ago. We had a great time catching each other up on all the changes in our lives in the past four years.
Everywhere I went I was seeing people I knew from the past, and it was unforgettable. The amazing friendships I have made in Brazil have enriched my life. As one of the FF members told me, “Vicki, you are now Brazilian!”
Obrigada, meus queridos amigos – thank you, my dear friends! Until we meet again!
– Vicki Vance, Ambassador Coordinator, “Roots of Brazil” Global Journey, May 2018