Brazilian exchange student experiences life at WHS

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Heather Lee

Bruna da Silva gets ready for practice in the WHS locker room.

The start of a school year brings new changes for teachers and students alike: new faces, new names, and new classes. Senior Bruna da Silva is learning everything anew this year, from a different school to a completely unfamiliar culture as she experiences a semester in WHS as an exchange student from Brazil.  

Since her arrival in the U.S., da Silva has been hosted by senior Nicole Kendall and her family. Kendall spoke of her admiration of da Silva’s courage in coming as an exchange student to Weston.  

“It is not easy to come to a different country, so I think she’s very brave,” Kendall said. “I don’t think I could go to Brazil, or Argentina, or China for six months and do what she’s doing at this age.”

As a fellow Brazilian herself, Kendall noted the different aspects between the two countries.

“I can only imagine coming to a place where it snows and rains constantly. The language is completely different from where she’s from, and the food is different as well,” she said.

Despite being in an unfamiliar environment, da Silva has taken advantage of the fresh start the exchange program offers. After the first few weeks of school, she has started to settle into her new routine at WHS.

“The most difficult and good thing has been starting from zero, like making new friends, going to a new school, and having a new daily routine. Everything is different than what I have been doing in Brazil, but it’s also super cool because I’m having all these great experiences,” da Silva said.

Da Silva also mentioned that she hadn’t planned on being an exchange student until last year, as she was initially intimidated by the prospect of starting over and making new friends.

“I didn’t want to come here because I was too afraid,” she said. “So when my friend Gui came, I was like, ‘Ok, good for you, but it’s not for me.’ I started thinking about it later on, but I was still very afraid that I would miss my parents or struggle with making friends.”  

When da Silva finally decided to apply for the program at the end of 2017, it was the beginning of a lengthy process. However, she was able to form a closer bond with the WHS exchange student at that time, Gui Pereira, through her experience.

“Gui was very important to me because he taught me a lot about the exchange program. He was essential to me coming here,” she said. “It felt like I was here already because he was constantly talking about Weston.”

Many factors drew da Silva towards her final decision to become an exchange student, such as developing a fluency in English and experiencing life in the U.S.

“Knowing other cultures, another country, and different places is a really good thing,” she said. “The other thing is the friends I make here. If I want to come back someday, I have a lot of friends to stay with or to visit.”

Da Silva said her year has started well, with her favorite activity being running on the cross country team.

“Thank God I’m in cross country,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll probably be telling the next exchange student to do cross country, because everyone knows how to run. Even if you’re like me, and have never run in your life, there’s a lot of good people here, and you can make a lot of friends.”

WMS learning assistant and WHS cross country coach Kathleen Vinciullo noted how da Silva’s friendly personality has contributed to the cross country team as a whole.  

“Bruna is the type of kid who keeps working hard and never gives up. She’s a lot of fun to have, and she’s a very sweet girl: always smiling, and always happy,” Vinciullo said.

While looking forward to the rest of the year, da Silva also acknowledged the people who have helped her transition into Weston so far.

“The teachers are awesome because they understand that English is not my first language. And the cross country team rocks,” she added. “It’s so different from Brazil, but I’m really enjoying the time I’m spending here. I hope I have a great senior year.”