Sunday, August 24, 2008

A.C. Camargo

Even in South America, connections and networking mean everything in healthcare. The sister of my Portuguese professor is a speech pathologist and PhD student at A.C. Camargo, the Cancer Hospital in São Paulo, and pretty much, Brazil. On Monday, Anete took Carol and I with her to visit the hospital. I had a blast and realized that I really enjoy being in places where people seek healing. (I think that might also be why I like churches as well.) You can definitely tell that I have just been through architecture school because I was asking questions like “How many additions have been made to the original structure?”, “How are the additions connected to each other?”, “How many patient rooms are dedicated to one nursing station?”, and “How are the patient rooms designed?”. The original “house like” hospital is still used for research purposes, but the majority of the patients are treated in two additions that are bridge together. The hospital is also adding a new 8 story laboratory building that is currently under construction. It is the first building in South America that I have seen using a crane for construction. Usually I have just seen the traditional brick and concrete only. Overall, my favorite features were the interior doors and use of exterior windows on the newest addition. In the U.S. we have to use doors according to fire codes to separate areas. Where there might be a heavy magnetized, automatic closing fire rated door in the U.S., here there are all glass automatic doors. You never really have to guess what is in the next hallway because you can see right into it. The family rooms and the elevator lobbies are designed to share an exterior wall so there is a floor to ceiling glass wall in each elevator lobby and in each family area. It is rather nice to be in those spaces. The cafeteria had a wall of windows that looked to a nice garden area and was also a very nice space to be in. The strangest thing in this hospital had to be the “chapel” which was a strange rock formation that held a Virgin Mary and a kneeling statue. Overall it was great to experience what is considered the best cancer hospital in Brazil, which is actually sister hospital to M.D. Anderson.
That was probably way too much talk about the building, but that is what I really see when I go to a hospital. I am hoping to see Anete in Houston one day. She has a dream of visiting M.D. Anderson with interests in Head and Neck oncology. It has been fun getting to know the extended family of some of our friends here in Itu.

For pictures, please go to:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympics _ Our Way!

Carol and I helped put together a combined social event for the youth group and yuppie group (basically ages 12-30). We had the get together at Mark and Ali’s house. We were originally going to center the social on watching an actual game, but later having been unable to acquire a T.V. with the Olympics, we switched to a themed party. There was an option to wear either Chinese costume or a sports outfit. We served chicken fried rice (Ali did a great job cooking) and noodle soup. We had fruit fondue for dessert (I am not quite sure I would classify this as Chinese, but it was good!) For games, we played an orange dancing game where two partners dance with an orange between their foreheads and have to dance without touching. Isaihas, one of the youth group members, was my partner and we got second place. We had a medal ceremony after each game. Isaihas proudly wore the silver medal. We also played “Name that flag” and we had a “Best of Origami” competition. Overall it was a really good get together with about 30-35 people. We must have spent three hours putting up balloons to form the Olympic rings and Carol made a great Olympic torch (it was a cold rainy night since it is winter here so Bruno tried to use the flame).

This is the first of the socials here in Itu. We are planning to do one each month for the rest of our time here (which is about 4 months now.) In September we want to go to a soccer game in São Paulo. Along with the social events each month we are planning to do a service day with the same group of people. This first service day coming up in August is planned to start helping a farm in a nearby town that helps men with drug and alcohol addictions. This place is very similar to the Chacara in Porto Alegre last summer. However, this place is three months old and we are hoping to gather supplies (like clothes and toiletries) that they could really use to get started. This service project will play in with the ideas Carol and I have for recycling. If we can get the church to start by “recycling” some of their old clothes, then we will be doing well.

I hope to share more with you soon! For pics of the Olympic Social, please go to:

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Carol and I just returned from a weekend in Brasilia. In case you did not know, it is the capital of Brazil and very centrally located within the country. About thirty years ago, the city was planned in the shape of an airplane and sectioned off into sectors for each component of the city. The hotels have their own sector, the commercial center is sectored off, and the main “fuselage” of the plan is the government offices and ministries. My favorite part was getting to see the National Congress (pictured above). If you have ever studied modern architecture, you always run across this building by Oscar Niemeyer. Brasilia is pretty much like Oscar Niemeyer’s playground. He seems to have at least one of everything designed and built there. From an architecture point of view, this was a great place to experience for its rich desire to be a Modern city in plan, form, and execution. One of the best highlights from the trip was visiting the Cathedral. I have always loved church design! Besides the great experiences in architecture, Carol and I got to stay with some friends of our friends here in Itu. We stayed with Luis and Dora Mack, the brother and sister-in-law of our friend Jorge. They are so nice. It was a neat extension of the church here to see the influence one of their members is having as he now worships in Brasilia. Luis and Dora are very spiritual people and I adore the fact that they are so hospitable, kind, and caring. They made us breakfast everyday, cooked dinner for us, introduced us to Dora’s brother and sister-in-law who also had us over for dinner, and drove us everywhere we needed to go. They don’t have a car, but they borrowed her brothers’car just for us! Carol and I joined a study abroad geography class from Texas A&M on their last stop in Brazil which was Brasilia. We got to meet with the minister of economics for Brazil and study some of the neighborhoods and surrounding satellite cities. On Sunday, we spend the day with Luis and Dora. They took us to a fabulous bridge, the waterfront on the lake, the T.V. tower which gives an overview of the city, and to visit their good friends who have a new 2 month old baby!

Here is where my favorite story begins! Carol holds the baby (Isaac) for about 10 minutes and then she gives the baby to me! His dad got really excited and took out the camera for Isaac’s FIRST picture with an American! Carol and I are both Americans of course! I just laughed because I asked what happened to his first picture with a Mexican American! Carol is great and she didn’t say anything, I think she thought it was pretty funny too! Oh, and the man asked me if I was famous in America. I should have said I was famous only to my friends, but I said no. We left on Sunday night at 8:30 and got to Itu around 11:30 on Monday afternoon! Yay for long bus trips!

Now, we are currently getting ready for our first activity as interns: A social event for the youth and yuppie group as a kick-off party for the Olympics!

For pics from Brasilia, go to: