The Rotary Club of Camrose welcomed Maciel Rudnick, a Rotary Youth Exchange, student from Brazil, to its Sept. 29 noon meeting. Around 8,000 students from 66 countries participate in the Rotary International exchanges each year.

On Aug. 19, Rudnick, 16, embarked the 26 hour journey that brought him to Camrose, where he will be staying and studying for a year. Rudnick hails from the town of Piên within the southern state of Paraná, Brazil. Piên, at about 13,000 people, is a centre for pipe manufacturing, not unlike Camrose, but Rudnick also attended school in the nearby city of Curitiba, of around 1.7 million people.

Camrose Rotarians learned that the people of Brazil are diverse in heritage, culture and appearance. “We’ve got all the countries,” said Rudnick. “In my region, especially, there are more Germans and Europeans from around the world and they mix together, but there are a lot of Asians and a lot of Africans. Everybody looks so different.”

At the time he was selected for the exchange program, Rudnick said he was given only one minute to select the destination country for his exchange experience. He chose Canada because, he said, “I like cold.”

Rudnick will be staying with three very different families over the course of the year, starting with a younger family and ending with grandparents. “It’s different, but it’s good because you can know other realities,” said Rudnick. “I think it will help me if I in the future become a father, because I will be so experienced [with families at different life stages], I think.”

Rudnick is enrolled in Grade 11 classes at Camrose Composite High School, taking advantage of courses like stained glass, drama and guitar that would not be available at his school, in addition to English.

After listening to Rudnick’s impressive 30 minute presentation to the Rotary members, one would assume he had studied English for quite some time, but he said this was not the case, as English was not a strong subject at his school in Brazil. “In the three weeks before I came, there was an exchange student in my home from Minnesota, so my English got improved a lot, and then I just came here,” he said, adding that his previous English repertoire was mostly acquired by watching episodes from television shows like Breaking Bad and How I Met Your Mother.

Since the 1980s the Rotary Club of Camrose has hosted about 20 inbound students and sponsored 24 outbound students. Currently, Camrose Rotary Youth Exchange student Kyle Nickel is in the Netherlands.

SOURCE: Jessica Ryan,  Camrose Canadian, October 2, 2014.