As my father wanted me to learn English, when I was fourteen he suggested that I go on a course of English in America during my holidays. This
was a program where a group of students, from various parts of Brazil, would study for four weeks and then tour the nearby region for a week before the return home. I was at first unsure about the idea, as this would be my first trip away from my mother and
I did not know anyone who would also be going, but at last decided face the adventure. Meanwhile, my father was careful to recommend my care to the daughters of acquaintances of his who were going on the trip, and that is how I met Maria Theresa Pinheiro who
also loved these holiday courses of languages abroad.
So, we flew out from Rio to Miami and from there we went by Greyhound
bus to the Alabama College in Montevallo, Alabama, where we attended to a course of English for foreign students. There we were housed in student dormitories, duly supervised by chaperones, and segregated from the boys that were in the same group, as it would
This trip was in January of 1958, when the southern part of North America still practiced racial segregation.
This was very shocking for us, students from Brazil, who had never seen anything like it. Just having to frequent segregated toilets felt to me as if I accepted their horrible practices, and I did not know what to do with myself. But I was afraid that if I
denied the use of whites-only and sections and went into the ‘coloured’ choices would think I was intruding. I just wished to be away from that area as soon as possible.
Fortunately the holiday was not completely spoiled because it was in Burlington, Alabama
that I saw snow for the first time, and that was very beautiful and exciting.