Meant for Each Other

What are the odds that a girl from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a guy from Little Rock, Arkansas would meet at a small Vermont college, develop a deep and lasting bond, go their separate ways, live on different continents, and nearly 20 years later reunite, get married and go the "happily ever after" route?  Well, if your Flavia Paolucci '91 and Stephen Jacobs '93, the odds are in your favor!

The story starts in 1989.  Hear them tell it in their own words:

Flavia's story:

"After 16 years apart, old friends from SVC reconnected, this time to spend their lives together as husband and wife.

SVC was away from home for both of us.  I came as an exchange student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Hoosick Falls, NY, and with the support of my American family, ended up at SVC where I graduated with a BS in Communications Management.  Stephen decided to leave his warm Arkansas to study in beautiful New England as soon as he visited SVC.  He also got a BS in Communications.  We met during my junior year, but we became really close friends towards my senior year.

After I graduated and returned to Brazil, Stephen came to visit me twice in Rio.  On his last visit, in May of 1994, he was ready to get into a more serious relationship; however, my heart was not ready for a big commitment, so we went our separate ways.  For the following years, I worked in Sao Paulo with the British Council and British Consulate, and had the chance to travel through Europe as I had business trips to the UK at least once a year.

Throughout the years, I was able to get back in touch with some of my old SVC friends, but not with Stephen.  We did not reconnect until he contacted me last year, after his first marriage, unfortunately, did not work out.  He then decided to find out where I was and what I was doing with my life.  It was a joyful surprise to hear from him, and yet I was very sad to learn about his divorce.

Following our first week of emails, I had spent the weekend at the beach.  While going for a walk, I started thinking what our lives would have been if we were together.  I know that everything in life happens for a reason.  I was not single for any strange reason; it was because I knew that the love of my life was still to come.  After Stephen returned to my life again, I was sure he was the one.

Our reunion took place at Disney World, and a few months later he came to Brazil and proposed to me.  This time I was very confident that I wanted to make a serious commitment to my dearest friend, because he is the true and only love of my life.  In spite of our differences - ranging from culture to religion - I really trust that God has given us a second chance and blessed our love with our marriage when we least expected!

Although I would have loved to convince Stephen to move to sunny and fun Brazil, he has wonderful 10-year-old twins, which was a double blessing for my life.  I moved back to the US.  We got married on January 7, 2011, at Stephen's temple, with the blessings of his Rabbi and a Methodist Pastor. 

We had the chance to visit SVC for the first time together as a married couple this past summer, and it was a real emotional time.  SVC has definitely made an Arkansas boy and a Brazilian girl a very happy couple after all those years apart"!

Stephen's account:

"I've always said, with me being from Little Rock Arkansas, and Flavia being from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, what are the chances of us meeting in Bennington, Vermont?  Yet we met at SVC and, 20 years after graduating, we got married.  It was fate.

Flavia and I met in 1989, when I was a freshman and she a junior.  We were both Communications majors, but we didn't really become good friends until my sophomore year.  The more we got to know each other, the closer we became, but still just remained friends.

By the time I graduated, Flavia was back in Rio.  I went to visit a few times over the next couple of years.  As our relationship developed, I knew she was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  We were young, however, and were continents apart.  While I was ready to commit, Flavia was not.

We remained friends, but with so much distance between us, it was time to move on.  So I did.  I eventually met someone else and got married.  Out of respect for my wife, I felt it was time to cut ties with Flavia completely.  The marriage produced identical twin boys, but 12 year later we would up divored.

As the months passed, I knew it was time to reconnect with Flavis.  It had been about 10 years since we last spoke.  I had no idea where she was, but I knew I wanted her back in my life, one way or another.

Enter another SVC alum, Bryce Cutler, who graduated with me.  We have remained good friends over the years, and still managed to see each other a handful of times, despite living halfway across the country.  I knew he was on Facebook (I had never used it), so I asked him to contact Flavia and see if she would be receptive to me emailing her.

She said yes!  I emailed her two days later, and at this point, I just wanted my former best friend back in my life.  I was stunned to find out she had never married and, as we continued to email each other, it was as if we'd never been apart.  We eventually began to skype on a daily basis.

Flavia already had a trip planned to the United States.  We saw each other for the first time in 16 years at Walt Disney World.  Everything fell into place the moment we saw each other.  As a result, we celebrated our one-year anniversary on January 7, 2012.

The chain of events was improbable, but when fate steps in, nothing is impossible."

How's that for a contemporary fairy tale?!  Last summer Flavia and Stephen stopped by the Alumni Office on their way to Bryce Cutler's wedding.  When they told us their wonderful story, we couldn't wait to share this 21st Century Valentine!  It's great to know that dreams still do come true!