The students-who are fluent in English-traveled from Brazil, Belgium, China and Germany to study in America.
One of those students is Luiza Assis. She is from Guaratinguetá, a town with a population of more than 100,000 people, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in South America.
Jim and Patty Schmidt of Churubusco are hosting Assis, who hopes to study at CJSHS through the end of the school year.
Assis attends a private school in Brazil, and she said the subjects are much more difficult than in America. Students are required to take core classes during the school day and may choose to take enrichment classes, such as art, dance and foreign language, outside of school. The school day runs from 7:30 a.m. until 12:50 p.m., at which time students go home for lunch and then either study or go to extracurricular activities.
In fact, most Brazilians close up shop and head home for lunch everyday-except for restaurants and markets.
The school year starts in January and ends in November, with breaks in July and December.
Students in Brazil speak Portuguese, but are required to study the English language and must pass an English grammar exam, among other requirements, to enter college.
Assis is currently fluent in English and Portuguese and is in her second year of study in Spanish. She said she would also like to learn French.
According to CJSHS Guidance Counselor Jodi Metzger, exchange students are required to take certain classes in America, usually including U.S. History, English and government-though the requirements change based on the agency the student is working with.
Assis said her brother was an exchange student in Portage, Ind., a few years ago and inspired Assis to venture out as well. It was quite a coincidence that they were both placed in Indiana families since neither one specified a location of choice.
“The world is really big and you have to go and know different places and do different things,” Assis said. “It’s really interesting and a good learning experience to go where you don’t know anything.”
Assis said her mom is her best friend and they keep in touch with video calls on the computer.
Although Assis said she misses her family, she lovingly calls Patty “mom” and says she feels at home with the Schmidts, who seem like family already after only two months together.
Patty Schmidt said her family was approached by a local organization to host an exchange student, and they originally declined, but after finding no good reason not to, they agreed to be a “welcoming family” for one month for a student until the student found a long-term host family.
“But after she got here, we fell in love with her right away,” Schmidt said, “and we’re never going to let her go.”
“She’s been a real treasure,” Schmidt said of Assis. “She pitches in and is very willing to help out and do anything. We are very thankful to have Luiza.”
Assis and Schmidt enjoy similar activities-including running and exercising. Assis joined Anytime Fitness in Columbia City and works out regularly with Schmidt. They also run together and participated in Fort 4 Fitness and the Pumpkin Run.
Although Schmidt said her family is going about their typical routines while Assis is around, they do plan to go tobogganing this winter and they already made a trip to Amish Acres to teach Assis about the Amish community.
“It is neat to see experiences through her eyes that we take for granted,” Schmidt said of Assis, such as the autumn change of colors and the prospect of seeing snow for the first time.
“I am thrilled that Churubusco Jr/Sr High School allows the opportunity for exchange students to be a part of our school,” Counselor Metzger said. “It is exciting to see how much they grow in their knowledge and understanding of the English language. They also get to experience our culture firsthand and share a bit of their own culture with us.”
“Our students here are always so welcoming and willing to help and befriend our exchange students as well.”
(Editor’s note: Look for parts two and three of this study abroad series in the coming weeks.)