Experiencing the North Cariboo

It’s summer in Brazil, temperatures hover around 20 C.

Left: Nazko First Nations singer

Left: Nazko First Nations singer

It’s summer in Brazil, temperatures hover around 20 C.

However, 13 intrepid Brazilian students and three staff from a school in Joinville in Santa Catarina province landed in the middle of one of the coldest and snowiest spells so far this year in the North Cariboo.

Rafaella Pavinato, 12, said it was her first time in Canada and she’s finding it “really, really, really cold.”

The students are in Quesnel for a four-week language and culture immersion program.

In Brazil they attend Sociesc Educacao e Tecnologia, an immersion school inside a regular school.

Director of Curriculum Elza Giostri said she was very impressed with Quesnel.

“It’s bigger than I expected,” she said with a smile.

“And I’m very impressed with the way people are treating us, they seem very happy to have us.”

She added the students, ranging in age 12 – 14, also seem to be happy with the reception.

Elza also remarked on how our schools were much better than she expected given the size of the community.

She said small communities in Brazil don’t have the same calibre of schools as the larger centres.

While in Quesnel, seven students are in seven different elementary schools, three are in middle school and three of the students are in classes at Correlieu senior secondary school.

During the regular school day, the students attend classes in their respective schools and observe and participate where possible.

Rafaella, who is attending Carson elementary and Natali Heil Koerbel, 12, who is attending Red Bluff both agreed the kids were very friendly.

When asked if they were homesick, Natali said whenever she thinks of her parents, “I just say it’s only one month.”

The students are experiencing a mix of academics, nonacademic classes such as drum making at Aboriginal Education Centre and watercolour classes at QJS and social outings with their homestay families.

Their calendar of activities include skidooing, tobogganing, sleigh rides, attending a Millionaires game and a visit to the museum, among other things.

Vitor Machado, 13, who is attending Quesnel junior secondary and Leonardo Pilatti, also 13, who is attending Correlieu, said it was their first visit to Canada.

As for Quesnel, both agreed it was a good city, “safe and secure.”

This is the first time either of the boys have seen snow and they were excited about the prospect of skiing on Wednesday.

What’s their goal while in Quesnel? Both said to, “improve their English.”

The Joinville school authorities chose Quesnel after Robin Hay, District Principal International Program, travelled to Brazil and met with the staff as part of promoting Quesnel School District’s international education program.

Elza Giostri said they were impressed with Hay and chose Quesnel based on his presentation.

The students return to Brazil Feb. 4.