Category Archives: travel

Party for “Raid!”



Last Friday night, my host brothers Joao and Paulo threw a house-warming party for me. The funniest thing is the way they spelled my name. Instead of Heidi they spelled it Raid (pronounced like Haij). They pronounce the “R” like we pronounce the “H” and they pronounce the “D” like a “J”. I thought it was hilarious, and called it the “Raid” party. It was really fun and I met about 10 new Brazilians. I prepared some appetizers, while the boys prepared some drinks. We played music and danced, and everyone was trying their best to speak English to me. I dabbled at my Portuguese and somehow – we all managed to understand each other. I was so excited to get to know everyone and feel welcomed in Sao Paulo.

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The “Feira”




The day after we went to Ivonete and Rodrigo’s home for their English class, we met them in the market where they work. This is called  Feira in Portuguese. It is like a Farmers’ Market we have back home in California, where local farmers bring their goods to sell.

Vendors lined the small streets in her neighborhood with beautiful, fresh fruits and vegetables. A few of the vendors let us try an array of fruit including: plums, oranges, pineapple, guava and a strange white fruit (that I can’t even recall the name of!)

We went to see Rodrigo and Ivonete to buy dried beans, onions and potatoes. Ivonete peels all the garlic before she sells it. What a job! They were super excited to see me and I ordered in English on purpose so that they could practice speaking. I asked Ivonete how much everything cost, and she told me 6 Reales. She even gave me a discount – so sweet!

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After that, we bought some chicken and looked at the different types of seafood. On the way out, Celise bought some flowers for her house and we bought some fresh eggs.

Riding on the Metro-o-o!


Remember that 80s song by Berlin, “Riding on the Metro?” Well, the metro in Sao Paulo is something else. Rush hour is absolutely insane! People flock into the underground world like cattle. The escalators are full and the maze of tunnels are full of people. If you don’t go with the flow, you are bound to get trampled. After a being here for nearly a week, I am finally comfortable to attempt the plunge on my own.

First Stop – BRAZIL!

heidi trolley!

Bom dia!

My name is Heidi Smith, and I am the Program Manager of the ECVA program. Today I am embarking on a 1-month journey in which I will participate in the program and gain experience tutoring English in Brazil.  I am really excited to experience the program first-hand in order to better understand how things work. I will be trying out different teaching methods and approaches. I will keep you posted on all the juicy details that make traveling so much fun.

My first homestay will be in Sao Paulo for a couple of weeks. I have never been to Brazil and don’t speak Portuguese. I will have to get  by using English and Spanish to communicate with the locals.

I’m not exactly sure what to expect. I have a mental image of walking the colorful streets in Havianas passing people dancing to Samba. The smell of Brazilian barbeque fills the air, and everyone is smiling. Can you picture it?

Wish me luck!

The World is Your Classroom


English is the most widely spoken language in the world. In any airport you go to around the globe, there will be signs translated into English. From Kiev, Ukraine to Lima, Peru to Beijing, China foreigners use English to communicate when they don’t speak the local language.  For those of us native speakers, we couldn’t be luckier, or some may say – lazier.

It is normal for many other countries to teach English in elementary school. Scandinavians learn English from the young age of six, while most Americans don’t  start learning a second language until they reach high school.

Teaching English abroad has become quite popular in recent years. With English classes in such high demand in most countries, what better way to travel the world while exposing yourself to new cultures and lifestyles. Some people choose to obtain a TEFL or TESOL certificate to be able to get paid to teach English in other countries. Others preferred a more relaxed setting by living with a host family and tutoring them.

The English Conversation Volunteers Abroad (ECVA) program places native English speakers with host families around the world. In exchange for living with the family, the volunteers tutors their hosts in conversational English. As you can imagine, each experience is unique and rewarding.

This blog offers a space to share experiences and funny stories our ECVA participants have along their journeys around the globe.  Check back for travel tips, teaching tools, cultural advice or just for a good laugh.  Remember – the world is your classroom. Get out there!