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‘Foreign’ land

Brazilian high school exchange student chooses Grenfell Campus

Student Life

By Melanie Callahan

Stephanie Gomes Annes was looking for adventure when she embarked on an exchange from her home in Caruaru, Pernambuco, Brazil, and moved to Springdale, N.L.

Ms. Annes moved to the Central Newfoundland community in September 2017 as part of a high school exchange program.

“I spent five months living in Springdale and attending classes at Indian River High School,” she said.

“There were five students from the exchange program. We did a lot of different things while we were there. We went on ATVs and Ski-doos. We went skiing, skating and sliding. We experienced Halloween, which we do not celebrate in Brazil. And, I improved my English. I enjoyed my experience very much.”

The experience was tremendous for both Ms. Annes and her host mother, Kelly Hewlett.

“We had a great experience with Stephanie,” said Ms. Hewlett. “We spent a lot of time exploring Newfoundland and introducing her to Newfoundland culture. It was a lot of fun – we had a lot of laughs. And we learned from each other.”

Stephanie Gomes Annes and Kelly Hewlett embraced Newfoundland winter together.
Photo: Submitted

After Ms. Annes finished her exchange and returned home, the Hewlett family say they missed her so much that they decided to visit her in Brazil.

“This gave us an opportunity to meet and spend time with her family. It was also a learning experience and it certainly strengthened our relationship.”

Familiar territory

When it came time to think about university, Ms. Annes’ mind returned to Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I knew that I wanted to come to university in Newfoundland, but I was not sure where,” said Ms. Annes. “A lot of my friends went to Grenfell and I was happy with how close it is to Springdale.”

Ms. Hewlett wanted her in familiar territory and close to the support network she had built in a new country. She also attended Grenfell as a university student and loved her time there – she liked the small class sizes and the ease of transition between high school and university life.

“When I eventually had to leave Grenfell to continue my studies at the St. John’s campus, I did not feel overwhelmed. I was prepared. When Stephanie started to talk about coming here, I knew her family preferred that she was close to her Canadian family and her support system, so I began telling her about Grenfell.”

Melissa Halford, Grenfell’s English as a second language (ESL) program co-ordinator, reassured Ms. Hewlett that it would be a good place for Ms. Annes to enrol as an international student.

“Stephanie is going to contribute so much to our classrooms this fall,” said Ms. Halford. “I think she is such a good fit for our campus and we’re excited for her to have the opportunity to share her passion for Newfoundland and Labrador with her classmates.”

After completion of her ESL studies, Ms. Annes plans to complete her bachelor of science program with an ultimate career goal of dentistry.

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