Student Spotlight

Building a New Future


Victor meets his host mom Beverly for the first time in Arkansas.

Since I was young, I knew that my family’s plan was to send me to the United States as an exchange student. My uncle lived in Iowa for 8 years and he wanted me to do the same. I cried in the airport because it’s impossible not to cry when you leave the people who you lived with for 17 years. So when I left them, the last smile, the last tear, I felt like a lost bird, without knowing where to fly. Well, I would live like that for one year. That would be hard. But when I got here and when my host mom and my coordinator received me, the voice inside my head said that it would be different. That it would be the best year of my life.

First of all, my coordinator. I’ve never seen someone that loves working like her. She’s just amazing, always doing whatever she can to make me and the other students happy.

The host family was the thing that my family was concerned with. I would live with unknown people for about one year. But when I got here, I felt like the happiest guy in the world. I live with my host mother and my host brother, besides the dogs and cats. My host mother really reminds me of my grandmother: she is always happy. We both like rock music and every time that we are in the car we sing songs together. She really loves what she does, and I can see that in the way that she treats me.


Victor experiences American shopping with his new friends, Martina from Italy and Erika from Finland.

I made new friends here, some Americans and some foreign. I have two friends here that I call sisters. They live with my coordinator, and we are basically together all the time at school. I love them and I’m really thankful to have them as my friends. It’s a strong and rare connection that is the reason why I love them so much. The high school here is just amazing, just like in the movies. I don’t have a lot of time to hang out with my new American friends, but I see them every day and we send messages during the day. It will be hard to leave them…

I’m experiencing a new culture and new foods. I love tator tots! I don’t know why we don’t have Sonic in Brazil, because it’s very delicious! Different from the movies, Americans don’t eat hamburgers and hot dogs all the time. But hamburger is still my favorite food here (I don’t know why, I just love hamburger).

I see myself different. I’m growing up here. My mind is more mature. I have responsibilities here, which help me learning how to live by myself, so I’ll be ready when I get older.


Victor makes a traditional Brazilian dish to share with family and friends during International Education Week.

Every single person that works with exchange students should receive a very important honor in this country. You guys make a difference in our life. You guys are building our future. And since this is not a job for you guys, I do my best to answer back what I receive: helping my host family and coordinator with little things, and of course, with love.

In my very emotional and philosophical side, every night I think about the things that I did and the things that I’m doing here. How my life is changing and how my future has been building. I know that I’m in the right way.

I can say that my experience here is much better than I was expecting. I have plans for my future here. Maybe, after coming back to Brazil, I’ll try to come back to study in a college here. In these situations, we are so happy that we just forget about missing our family and friends. I didn’t forget them. I have a Brazilian flag in my bedroom with all my friends’ signatures. Every morning I look at that and remember them.

The things during my exchange student program are working so good that I cannot imagine leaving here anymore. My life is here now and after everything here, I will go back to Brazil different and happy. Being an exchange student is just something amazing and only those who experience that can explain.

I still have 6 months here. I don’t know what else life reserves to me, but I will just wait and let it happen.

— Victor from Brazil, living in Arkansas