PLACES Program Brings Brazilian Students to Andover

Over the long weekend, five exchange students from the SESC High School in Rio de Janeiro stepped onto campus as part of the Brazil PLACES program. They will attend classes and stay with host families while working on a project they will present to the students at SESC.

“The project is all based on how we learn music in our boarding school, to compare Brazil and our school with here, how it’s different,” said Guilherme Tarini, one of the students from SESC.

Before arriving on campus, the students, seniors at their school, were given their choice of classes to take. Although they are not expected to complete course homework, they are encouraged to learn as much as possible until their departure on May 1.
A member of their faculty also came along as a chaperone and will look into the music department at Andover. He hopes to bring some of the ideas he learns on campus back to SESC and incorporate it into their curriculum.

From the perspective of the students, an important factor in their decision to sign up for the exchange program was to experience a different country and a different culture. For many of them, this is their first time abroad, and many of them were surprised by what they’ve experienced.

“To be somewhere where your mother language is not spoken is very different, and it’s very interesting. The culture is completely different. For example, your time of dinner is very different from our time of dinner. We have dinner at 7 or 8 p.m., and here it’s 6 p.m.,” said Leticia Gonzalves, another exchange student.

Their favorite experience, however, has been staying with their host families. Although it has been only a few days since their arrival, they have already had stories to share, and they were most excited by the prospect of visiting Boston over the weekend with their host families.

“When I arrived there, there was a poster on my bed like, ‘Welcome, Sergio!’ That’s so cute, right? They were really easygoing, and I talked with them about Brazilian culture, and they talked to me about American history. They were nice. They were really, really nice,” said exchange student Sergio Espinoza.

Now in its second year, the PLACES program was established after Flavia Vidal, Instructor in English, was introduced to SESC and visited the school on a trip to Brazil. After several years of faculty exchanges, the decision was made to include students in the partnership, with seven Andover students and two faculty members visiting Brazil in August.