Paula de Carvalho Vogelius
My friend and a Real Wonder Woman
I met Paula while we were both studying at the University of Strasbourg. The day we first met we were both late for a class. Neither of us dared to open the door to the classroom and each of us hoped that the other one will do it. So, we stood outside the door for a while and I ended up opening it.
As we were late, all working groups have already been formed and we ended up being a group of our own. That was the beginning of a life-long friendship that is still alive despite the space and life choices between us.
During my days in college, Paula taught me how to have fun and enjoy life. I used to be a serious student (Incredible, but true!) and Paula would often come up with crazy and fun ideas to experiment and discover nature.
What impressed me most about Paula was her love for life and the joy of living. She was able to not take life too seriously and simultaneously experience a deep connection to nature. She was committed to recycling and dedicated to climate change cause.
After four years in Strasbourg filled with fun and study, we embarked on completely different paths, yet we kept meeting for weekends of fun and deep sisterhood connection. I felt and still feel Paula’s unconditional love and support. Regardless of where I moved – from Paris to Brussels to Ivory Coast to Los Angeles to Costa Rica – whenever possible and needed, Paula would jump on a plane and find a way to meet me anywhere I was for fun times and heartfelt support.
Throughout my life, I felt Paula’s presence every step of my way. When I decided to quit the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission and move to Los Angeles to join my husband, we met in Berlin and had a great time. When I decided to move from Los Angeles to Costa Rica to have my first child in the jungle, she laughed so hard when she realized that I was now a nature girl. Her love for me was palpable through all the jokes, especially when she came to visit me in my jungle house and witnessed me with a new connection to nature and animals which was alien to me when we were university students. To be witnessed by my student-time friend allowed me to see also my own journey of growth, which was beautiful and refreshing.
For the past 25 years, we have been present for each other through the good times and the painful ones. We showed up through depression, loss, grief and with total presence and hearts filed with acceptance and love for one another. Sisterhood is real and it’s beyond ties of blood, space or time.
I love you, Paula!