Monday, January 22, 2007

Letter to friends and family

This went out by personal email and Number One thinks it ought to be posted, so here it goes.

We arrived safely from a 27-hr trip which began in a chaotic airport of Rio, with a 5-hour stop in Atlanta where most flights were being cancelled and then landing in Omaha under light snow. The Pepino family greeted us in the airport and we had lunch at Taco Bell—the kids were ready for Tacos after 6 weeks in a country where no one has ever heard of tortillas. From then we drove on a very snowy stretch of interstate, juggling the enormous snow plows. Our neighbors and friends had watched our house for us: the cats were fed, the air was warm. There was milk and bread and fruit to eat. And a strange, white, beautiful landscape outside: our eyes had to get used to it.

We would like to thank wholeheartedly everyone who included our travel in their prayer intentions. Amidst delays and bad weather our airplanes miraculously took off and landed smoothly and safely.

Our stay with my parents was completely family-oriented. I was beingmost of the time a daughter and a sibling, and our children behaved help fully and with understanding. My parents live in a large house and many of my siblings visited with their families so our children became very well acquainted with the majority of their Brazilian cousins. My father's 80th birthday party was beautifully and simply done at home, a sit-down dinner for 100 people. With the help of my mother's cook, we did not hire any outside help, and sisters and brothers worked together fitting every need under a ver reasonable budget. After dessert we had a presentation of brief words from the 11 children, and then 2 granddaughters offered their talent as gifts: Isabel played a piece on the piano and her cousin Elisa sang an Ave Maria—my father was delighted. The third part comprised of five very brief skits showing scenes of dad's life written by my musician-brother Eduardo and me. My sister Margot and baby brother Felipe were the two other actors and the four of us brought everyone to laughs and tears.

The time with family is so important—worth getting a loan to purchase tickets and even getting into an airplane. It's priceless, and essential. Our children have all gained so much knowledge about the other country to which they also belong. Our Claudia has become now almost fluent in Portuguese, studying for hours each day with her godmother—my youngest sister Marta, a History professor, who lives with my parents. By the time we left she was filling notebook pages with verbs conjugations. In fact, Claudia has chosen to remain in Brazil for another 3 months and she is very thankful she has decided to homeschool for her Senior year, making this possible. She is also thankful she had finished all college applications before the trip and that she had taken most of the books. We are sending to her the rest of what she needs.

Thanks everyone again, and let's hope Spring comes early!


Anonymous said...

Dear Dona Ana,
I've been meaning to write and ask what you do to teach your children Portuguese while homeschooling. My husband is Brazilian, and I speak Spanish and English. Unfortunately, however, at home we speak almost exclusively in English. Our oldest daughter is fluent in all three languages (common for the eldest in bilingual families, I've observed), but prefers to speak in English. The youngest understands Spanish and Portuguese and will speak small phrases when spoken to and encouraged, but I don't know how long this will last. Do you incorporate Portuguese grammar into your day to day homeschooling? or do you concetrate on normal fluency? Your input would be greatly appreciated! Muito obrigada!

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Dear J. C.
I have bought in every trip to Brazil a number of "cartilhas"-- first Portuguese readers and exercise books. But sadly I report that my children are not fluent--like you, I have not been able to accomplish a task that has been always beyond my reach. I try at least to teach them songs, the Ave Maria, foods, cultural things. Even when we go, my whole fmaily, all fluent in English, speak to them in English... :-(
God Bless,

Anonymous said...

Dona Ana,
Thanks for your response! I guess I should be happy for the limited success we have had thus far. We also pray the rosary in Portuguese--at least we did for the 3 months we last spent in Brazil (after that we did Spanish, and now will start Latin.) Like you I teach them nursery songs, make some Brazilian food, and we also let them watch videos in Portuguese that an Uncle bought them on our last visit to Brazil . Do you have any authentic Carioca recipes you have found easy to make in the U.S.?!
Um abraco, (can't remember how to type c cedilha..)