Brazil is a far flight from Illinois. But a group of 24 students made the trip to help out here. They're helping out with kids programs and camps at the YMCA
"Before the summer, we make a training for the kids," says Lois Martin, the Brazilian Exchange Student Leader. "They're 14 to 17 years old, and they go through a training. And then we select 25 kids. They come to the U.S. to work at the Y's, to see the culture."
The exchange students are selected out of about 120. Almost 100 are turned away.
"They learn a lot," says Mike Brown, Rock River Valley YMCA President and CEO. "And they're here to improve their English. They're here to work with our kids in the summer. And then, obviously, they bring a whole lot of culture and internationalism to the Y, which is exactly what we want to do."
Brown says the program's been around for years. It started in California and brings a different spirit to the camps. The foreign exchange students aren't the only ones getting new experiences. Kids who go to the Y programs do too.
"By July 4th, the summer camp counselors are burnt out, tired. It's hot," Brown says. "These guys come in with a whole new energy and attitude and really help expand the program."
"Oh they love us," says Ramiro Vidal, a Brazilian exchange student. "They love us. Because they say, 'Oh, you're Brazilian!' And they're a little bit curious about our country. They say, 'Oh you're from Brazil. Do you have beaches there?' And they ask a lot about Brazil."
The Brazilians stay with YMCA staff. They plan to visit Chicago before they head back in August.
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