The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
By Sherry Koonce
The News staff writer
Local Rotarians had a little taste of Brazil Thursday during a joint lunchtime meeting between Port Arthur, Nederland and Groves club members.
Five Brazilian citizens from Sao Paulo were in Port Arthur as part of 10-day visit to Southeast Texas Rotary Clubs in District 5910.
The South American visitors were participants in the Group Study Exchange, a Rotary International program where Rotary districts from different countries are paired to send and receive professional study groups of non-Rotarian team members and one Rotarian team leader. Typically, the groups stay from four to six weeks in the country they are paired with.
The teams have opportunity to learn not only about the culture of the country they are visiting, but also about the people especially when they stay at different Rotarians’ homes.
“This is one of the better programs we have to get the world together in harmony,” Bobby Simon, District 5910 assistant governor, said.
Included in the Brazilian group was group leader Thiago Facchini, and members, Jose Rocha, Ivan Alexandre Pironti, Liia Silva, and Pamela Silva.
The group gave a presentation on their native Brazil, the largest country in South America. Brazil features 4,600 miles of coastline, and borders 10 countries. Facchini said
When asked about the country’s female president, Facchini said she was doing “a real nice job,” but there is a sometimes a difference of opinion about her performance.
People have misconceptions about Brazilians, he said.
“We don’t eat monkeys everyday,” he said.
What they do, however, is a watch a lot of American TV.
“We watch a lot of American movies; that’s where we learn most of our English,” he said.
Facchini lives in Ribeirao Preto, where he has a degree in business administration and works at a highway implements manufacturing company. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Ribeirao Preto - Iraja, and is the president of the Rotary Foundation Commission.
Rocha, 31, lives in Sao Carlos, a city in the middle of Sao Paulo State. He earned a law degree in 2004, and has worked for the past seven years as a federal attorney.
When not practicing law, he enjoys offroading in his Jeep.
Sao Paulo is the only state in Brazil that speaks Portuguese.
Pironti, 33, lives in Orlandia, a small town in Sao Paulo state. He is a technologist in management of small and medium sized companies and been working with JBS Foods for 13 years as a Quality Analyst. He is also an English teacher for beginners wanting to learn the language.
He enjoys riding motorcycles and playing soccer.
Sao Paulo has 60 million cell phone lines, he told the local Rotarians.
Liva Silva, 30, lives in Ribeirao Preto in Sao Paulo. She graduated in Pharmacy Biochemistry. During her career she has worked to develop new veterinary products and troubleshoot formulations, and most recently has started research on Biosciences cancer cells from the head and neck.
Her family owns a furniture store and a coffee plantation, she said.
Pamela Silva, 27, also lives in Ribeirao Preto. She has a degree in Languages and Literature’s and is currently employed as a commercial assistant at Jet, a company that develops electronic commerce websites.
Silva loves to dance — an admission that prompted Rotarians to try and coerce her into demonstrating the Rumba when visiting Larry’s French Market Thursday night.
While dancing with a Latin flair was on local Rotarian’s minds, Silva said the group had been to a western club in Woodville, where she attempted the Two-step.
“We couldn’t quite do it,” she said, adding that the girls wanted to buy a pair of cowboy boots before leaving Texas.
“That is what we needed to do the dance,” she said.
If the group didn’t have the proper footwear for dancing, they surely didn’t pack for the climate.
“It is all green over here; that is the biggest surprise,” Facchini said. “We thought it would be the desert, so we came prepared with sunblock and hats.”