EXCHANGE STUDENT - CONTINUING FRIENDSHIP
Several members will recall Renata Alvarenga Brandão, an inbound exchange student from Brazil in 2005.
Past member George Robinson and his wife Jennifer had the pleasure of attending Renata's wedding recently. George and Jennifer were Renata’s host parents for a few months and they bonded as an exchange family in the true Rotary spirit. Renata’s family in Brazil has a very strong Rotary connection with several members of her family being Rotarians. Renata and her family stayed in touch with George and Jennifer since Renata’s exchange year which led to a visit to Brazil in 2006/07. Both families maintained contact and other members of Renata’s family have been to visit George and Jennifer since. [Photo Jennifer and George closest to camera at Renata's wedding]
George and Jennifer were thrilled with the surprise and honour, which was not revealed until the last moment, that they would be a part of the bridal party as Renata’s “second parents”.
The wedding was an extravaganza with 400 guests at the local Cathedral in Renata’s home town of Governador Valadares. The service was very traditional and as you’ll see in the ‘photo, Renata was an exceptionally beautiful bride. There was a 7 piece orchestra and a fanfare leading up to the service and at the conclusion of the service, fireworks outside the Cathedral. It is Brazil!
It should be mentioned that the church service commenced at 9:45pm! The reception which followed was a sumptuous affair starting at 11:00pm and not finishing until 6:00am the following day.
Ângela’s attention to detail was superb and the wedding went exactly to plan. The sun was sneaking over the mountain that looks down of Renata’s home town as the last of the guests were leaving the reception. George and Jennifer stayed right to the end and left with Ângela and Marcio as four very proud parents who partied long and hard.
Renata and her husband Leo then headed off to Central America on their honeymoon. George and Jennifer met Leo when they were last in Brazil and they report that he is a fine young man and with Renata they make an excellent couple.
Renata has completed her medical degree and is now in residency as a much sought after oncologist. She is the youngest in a long line of family medicos. Renata is eagerly looking forward to returning to Australia and showing Leo the country that she so enjoyed during her exchange year.
Her brother Rafael, a pathologist will be marrying his fiancée Natalia next year and they have Australia as their first preference for a honeymoon destination but Rafael’s Brazilian family fear that once he arrives, he won’t want to leave his Australian family. Plans are already afoot for Renata’s parents to visit George and Jennifer next year so that they can reciprocate the wonderful hospitality afforded them during their two trips to visit their “família no Brasil”.
Whilst George is no longer a Rotarian, he recognises the important work undertaken by Rotary. He and Jennifer were strong supporters of the exchange program during George’s 10 years of service and the strength of friendship with the Brandão family which resulted from this program is a testament to the work of Rotary.
Hosts for Renata’s Melbourne experience in 2005 were; George and Jenny Robinson, Bernie and Marjorie Gerlinger and Rev Doug Robertson and Alison. Regretfully Marjorie and Bernie were unable to attend the ‘all night’ wedding owing to commitments in Melbourne.