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Glenwood becomes family tradition for Brazilians

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” For three decades, Glenwood Springs has been Eduardo Albuquerque’s home away from home.

The Brazilian businessman from Sao Paulo first came to the valley in 1975 as a 17-year-old exchange student. He spent his senior year at Glenwood Springs High School, living in the home of Rex and Louise Mooney.

Glenwood offered quite a change in both attitude and altitude.



“I used to live by the coast (in Brazil) and when I came to the mountains, it was so different,” said Albuquerque, director of sales for the Vantage Brasil division of the Vantage Controls home automation company. “(The Mooneys) had three children ” April Mooney, who was in Colombia while I was there, David, who was 19 and Gary, who was 24. Louise, she really helped me. She was like a real American mom.”

Albuquerque’s love of the region also influenced a family tradition ” two of his children have also attended GSHS as exchange students and another is coming next year.



Love, Brazilian style

Before leaving for the states in ’75, Albuquerque started dating his future wife, Vera. The couple took advantage of their recent visit to the area and renewed their wedding vows for their 25th wedding anniversary over the New Year’s holiday at the Church at Carbondale.

“She was 15 and I was 16 when we started dating,” said Albuquerque. “We were already in love (before I left).”

The couple married in 1980 in Brazil, and later had four children: Eduardo Jr., 22; Verena, 21; Georgia, 15; and Melanie, 9.

Eduardo Jr. and Verena followed in their father’s footsteps and were GSHS exchange students in 2000 and 2001.

They, too, are hooked on skiing.

“I like the people, and I like to ski a lot,” said Eduardo Jr. “The first thing I was thinking of was the skiing.”

Verena said she enjoyed attending prom at GSHS, making new friends and listening to music during her exchange.

“It took a couple of weeks to adjust (to high school),” Verena said. “The students were very friendly.”

Coming to America

Eduardo Jr. and Verena didn’t have to overcome the language barrier when they arrived, a hurdle that their dad had to clear back in 1975.

The youngest of seven children, Albuquerque did not speak English when he came to the United States.

“I was the only one in my family to be an exchange student and the first one to come to America,” said Albuquerque, sitting around a small outdoor table eating pizza with his family in the Snowmass Village Mall. “I didn’t know a word (of English). The neighborhood was very good, very friendly.”

After arriving, it was time to adapt to the language and to the mountains.

Albuquerque took an English class at GSHS and learned to ski at the resorts of Sunlight and Snowmass.

“Tony and Pat Tonozzi helped me with my English, and to learn to ski,” he recalled.

Albuquerque said his experience as an exchange student changed his life significantly.

“Living outside the country and being away from your family helps you grow up faster,” he said. “You’re not afraid to do new things. You improve your language a lot when you’re here.”

All in the family

At 15, Georgia is already anticipating continuing the family’s tradition of being an exchange student in Glenwood Springs. Family friends John and Marianne Ackerman and Roger and Sandy Yost are assisting the Albuquerques in placing Georgia with a Glenwood family with a teenage girl.

“Eduardo loves Colorado, and he wants all his kids to live here,” John Ackerman said. “He’ll tell you he credits a lot of his success, including learning English, from coming here.”

Georgia said she is mostly looking forward to experiencing American culture and developing her interests.

“I like architecture, and I like drama. I don’t know what I’ll do (when I get older),” she said. “I just want to get to know new people and my new family.”

The youngest of the Albuquerque crew, Melanie also enjoys traveling to the U.S., which the family experiences often because of Eduardo’s job with Vantage, a Utah-based company.

“I like coming to ski ” everybody skis,” she said.

While in Glenwood, the Albuquerques usually rent a home to accommodate the entire family.

The avid skiers spent plenty of time on the slopes while visiting over the Christmas break.

Eduardo said he hopes his children ” and the host families ” take note and learn the differences between life in America and Brazil.

“In Brazil, you have the rich people, then you have the lower class ” the middle class doesn’t exist at all. Here, everybody’s more equal,” he said. “I think the experience for the host family is just as good for the student. We’ve met a lot of good people, and I like the friends we’ve made here. You can always trade information ” we feed the information to each other.”

Back in the day in 1975

In 1975, Eduardo Albuquerque was an exchange student from Brazil, attending his senior year at Glenwood Springs High School. That was the year:

– Glenwood Springs High School boy’s basketball team won the state title.

– girls sports are sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association.

– the Vietnam War ended as communist forces overtook Saigon and South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally.

– “Saturday Night Live” premieres on NBC with comedian George Carlin hosting.

– Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa went missing.

– Brazil’s state capital moved from Niteroi to Rio de Janeiro.


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