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School remembers high energy and enthusiastic youth

Brazilian students offer cross-cultural education for Canadians

Though months have passed, the memory of the zeal and gusto that 35 students from northeastern Brazil brought with them still lingers.

Powell River welcomed 35 of the 700 students who were placed across Canada this fall. The group of top students were handpicked by their state government to experience life in an English-speaking country. The students spent five months in Powell River as part of the Win the World Scholarship program.

The purpose of this educational and cultural initiative is for the Brazilian students to develop critical and global thinking skills, said Gerry Brach, a counsellor at Brooks Secondary School.

After completing the home-stay program, students are expected to be leaders and problem solvers when they return to their home communities in Brazil, he added.

Kim Leach is an ESL teacher at the high school and taught most of the 35 students in two classes over the fall semester. Leach commented on how the students brought much enthusiasm and zeal to her classroom. “They were just a huge ball of energy,” said Leach.

They participated in many activities and field trips including visiting the Sliammon Fish Hatchery, Willingdon Beach to see the forestry equipment and Winter Wonderland skating at Powell River Recreation Complex. Leach added that many homestay families also took the teens to Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler on sightseeing trips where they took many photos to share on social media with friends and family back home.

“Every one of these excursions we went on, they were so excited and thrilled,” said Leach. “They were so happy. It was an incredible group.”

Leach added that the Brazilian students’ outgoing nature had a positive effect not only on the other international students, but also on Canadian students as well.

Brach said Jamie Burt, Brooks principal, noted during the leaving ceremony the “positive effect” the Brazilians had on the school. They added “a real spark and sense of vitality” that will be missed.

In a show of gratitude, the Brazilians gave Burt a standing ovation and sang a song in their native Portuguese.

The students were presented with report cards, a certificate of attendance and a souvenir group photo in a wooden picture frame.

The Brazilian students put together a 20-minute slide show with pictures of their Canadian experiences.

“Programs such as this go a long way in providing an opportunity for Powell River students to learn from, and with, students from around the world,” said Brach.

This is the third year of the state government’s five-year plan to sponsor students to go to different countries. Brach said the school is hopeful another group of Brazilian students will bring more zeal to Brooks next year.