A life of international adventure

all thanks to the Rotary Student Exchange scheme

Catarina Pucci

At their Monday 23rd October meeting, the Rotary Club of Rayleigh Mill were visited by ebullient Mexican lady who was keen to tell the members of the club a little bit about her life and the role that Rotary had played in it.

Catarina Pucci first became aware of the club through Rotarian Tony Jay who had encountered Catarina during his trip to the Majestic Wine store in Southend when he went to replenish his wine cellar.  Catarina, who manages the store, when helping Tony load his copious haul of wine in his car, noticed his Rotary sticker and indicated that she would be happy to visit the club and tell the members about her life.

Catarina was born and brought up in Santa Barbara, Brazil, where both her parents were members of the Rotary Club.

The club played a major part in their community both in promoting the polio eradication programme and also setting up schools. Catarina was closely involved in many of the Rotary Club’s projects, and it was through the club that she took her first initial steps in a foreign country .......... a Rotary Student Exchange to Mexico. The exchange opened up a brand-new world to Catarina.  A new language, Spanish, to complement her native Portuguese and a life-long love of travel.

From that first foray abroad, Catarina has visited a plethora of other countries including the United States, Spain, Italy, Cuba, and England where she came to take a master’s degree and has settled with her English husband. She initially taught Spanish but now speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and is learning German.

Catarina has welcomed into her home a boy who comes from one of the more deprived and violent towns in Mexico. He had very few prospects but, due to Catarina and her husband’s help he will, possibly, find the same kind of enthusiasm that they show for life and international travel.

In Catarina’s question and answer session at the end of her talk she was asked what her favourite country was. She opted for Mexico and said that, away from the tourist areas, Mexico is a very poor country, but it has a vibrant life with its many festivals and celebrations. She gave an illustration of it’s attraction by quoting a colleague who, when questioned about her nationality said she was Mexican. Another colleague pointed out that she had been born in Colombia, but she replied, “Mexicans can choose any country in the world where they are born!”

Catarina concluded her talk by quoting a Portuguese poem, in Portuguese, that tells of the moon, the sun and the stars and how immense the universe is and that human beings are like a single grain of sand on a huge beach.

Catarina has huge zest for life and an obviously a love of language. She says that language opened up the world for her and she has made it her quest to visit as much of that beach as she can.

All this has stemmed from those first initial steps, made possible for her by Rotary and its Student Exchange Scheme.

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Catarina Pucci

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