Students from Colégio São Luiz live new experiences on exchange program in the United States

Since January 5 in the North American country, the exchange students' activities have included a lot of studying, cultural outings and even contact with the snow.

email whatsapp whatsapp facebook twitter Printable version

The first 15 days of the students from Colégio São Luiz, Brazil, in the United States were full of new experiences and learning that will remain in their memories forever. Accompanied by the coordinator of the Bilingual Program, teacher Mariane Werner Zen, the students Ana Alice Sevegnani, Helena Luiza Dadam, Maria Clara Dell’Agnolo and Wilson Mário Sgrott Netto arrived in Southaven, Mississippi, on January 5, where they got to know the structure of Sacred Heart School, their new teachers and classmates.

On the first weekend, the students’ schedule included a visit to the Memphis Zoo’s Christmas lights on a night visit, accompanied by teachers and students from the North American school. During the tour, the students also had the opportunity to go ice skating on a rink set up inside the zoo. In addition, on Sunday, January 7, the group attended a Mass at Christ the King Church to celebrate Three Kings’ Day (celebrated on January 6) with the local community. In that parish, the date is celebrated with the figures of the Three Kings arriving on horseback and bringing gifts to the children, which gave the students from Colégio São Luiz a different cultural experience.


The exchange students started attending classes at Sacred Heart School on Monday, January 8th. Each of them has been assigned to a different homeroom, following their own timetable and daily routine, which always starts at 7:30 am with their home teachers. “About every 45 minutes, when the bell rings, all the students change class and go to the classrooms for their specific subjects. Unlike what happens in Brazil, where it’s the teachers who change classrooms. In addition, in the United States, classes are from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with a total of six periods and a lunch break,” describes the coordinator of the Bilingual Program.

The subjects throughout the day are English Language and Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Religion Class, Science, Spanish, Music, Physical Education, and Educational Guidance. “In the first week of school, our exchange students participated in all the lessons in an active and collaborative way, interacting with their teachers and classmates. They were given copies of the books to use during lessons and access to the school’s digital platforms. And like any regular student, they were also given homework”, she adds.

Another experience within the school has been the participation of Colégio São Luiz students in the weekly Masses, which take place on Wednesdays in the school’s gym, and are attended by students and parents alike. “In addition, the hymns sung each week are under the responsibility of one specific grade and exchange students Wilson and Helena have already had the opportunity to take part in the choir with the 8th graders,” says Mariane.

The students from Colégio São Luiz also took part in classes with an educational counselor, in a moment of important personal growth and development. “The guidance counselor started a series of activities on stress and anxiety management with the 7th and 8th graders, helping our students to recognize these emotions in themselves and that they are part of young people’s daily lives, regardless of the country they live in or the language they speak,” she explains.

Field Trip

On January 11, the exchange students took part in a field trip with the Sacred Heart School students. They went to the city of Memphis to visit the National Civil Rights Museum, which is located in the former Lorraine Motel, the place where activist Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

King was a great national leader in the struggle for the black community to win its civil rights in the USA, which was strongly marked by racial segregation inherited from the country’s slavery period. “The visit to the museum was already planned for Sacred Heart students, since learning about civil rights movements is part of the educational curriculum. For our exchange students, it was another great cultural and learning experience, aligning the struggles for equal rights and the search for respect between all races that are also happening in our country,” says Mariane.


As well as educational experiences, the students from Colégio São Luiz are also getting to know new customs and habits, including eating at school. “For us, who don’t have the habit of eating lunch at school, going to the cafeteria seems like being in a  scene from an American movie. The menu features Mexican and typical American food, with lots of chili, tacos, French fries, sandwiches, hot dogs and the traditional carton of milk. Every day is a discovery of some new flavor and texture,” say the exchange students.

Visiting the city to learn more about the local culture, as well as going to stores and supermarkets, to the cinema, and being in touch with the local people were also part of the Brazilian students’ program. “We also attended Mass at The Good Shepherd parish in Robinsonville, where we met several people from the community who were very curious about Brazil,” says Mariane.

Also on the weekend, the group took a trip to Memphis, where they visited the Peabody Hotel, Beale Street and a historic square in the city, where auctions of enslaved people took place during the slavery era. “A sad place. Where a single stone from the great stage has been kept to rethink the past and not repeat mistakes in the future.”


While they were on the sidewalk in Memphis, the first snowflakes, which had been announced by the weather during the week, began to fall in the region. On Monday, January 15, the snow increased in volume and the temperatures dropped dramatically. “According to the local population, the last big snowfall in the region was in 1984. That’s 40 years ago. Throughout the week, it was impossible to leave the house by car because of the amount of snow. As it usually doesn’t snow that much in the region and the town is very small, there isn’t enough equipment to take off that amount of ice, nor are the buildings completely adapted for the intense cold, where the temperature felt like -21 degrees Celsius,” says the teacher.

As a result, the exchange students and the Sacred Heart Students had online classes and, despite all the difficulties caused by the snow, the group was always welcomed by the community. “During this week of isolation, we felt the warmth and hospitality of the Dehonian community that welcomed us here. Every day, Sister Margaret Sue visited us and we also received other friends who brought us food and waterproof clothing so that we could be safer to play in the snow.”

Mariane also points out that every day of this atypical week was a learning experience and a daily exercise in empathy, respect and care for others. “We can surely say that so far this exchange between Colégio São Luiz and Sacred Heart School has achieved its goals. Important and intense cultural exchanges are taking place and our students are developing emotionally and culturally on an immeasurable scale,” she concludes.

Bridget Martin is the principal of Sacred Heart School. The idea of an exchange between Sao Luiz and Sacred Heart began several years ago when Bridget met Fr. Silvano Joao da Costa at an international meeting of Dehonian educators in Rome. The exchange program is in its second year. Mrs. Martin said the exchange is very exciting. The whole school community anticipates meeting the new group of students. The Sacred Heart students love to welcome in the exchange students and show them about life as a young teenager in Mississippi. They also enjoy hearing about differences in school days.

This program is very important to help the two groups of students realize the Dehonian Charism in two very different places is the same. Both communities care for those in need and place a great deal of importance on education.


Read the Privacy Policy and write to