Exchanging lifestyles

Senior Bruno Biazetto and junior Sophia Stedile are guest residents from Sao Paulo, Brazil, experiencing the life of a U.S. high school student at BVNW.

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Photo by Jack Oxley

It is early August, and senior Bruno Biazetto and junior Sophia Stedile have traveled over 5,000 miles to experience high school in the U.S. Having left their own families behind, the two students meet the host families they will live with,whom they have seen only through pixelated Skype calls.

Biazetto and Stedile are guest residents from São Paulo, Brazil and are temporarily attending BVNW to gain exposure to high school in the U.S. Both Biazetto and Stedile came to the U.S. through an agency, Educatius International, that connected the two to their host families.

Guest residents differ from foreign exchange students in that they are connected with their host families through a specific agency, and based on the location of the host family, they are connected to a school, Assistant Principal Katie Bonnema said.

Stedile said she decided to be a part of the program because she had heard from friends that the program was exciting and unique. Stedile also said improving her English in a country like the U.S. will greatly enhance her resume for job opportunities.

“I didn’t feel like giving up because this is an awesome opportunity and there’s not many people that can have this (opportunity),” Stedile said. “I knew this was going to be the best experience in my life, so I kept going.”

Photo courtesy of Bruno Biazetto

Photo courtesy of Bruno Biazetto

A certain requirement for foreign exchange students entering the district  includes requiring them to stay for an entire year rather than a semester, Bonnema said. However, she said there is no specific requirement for guest residents. While Biazetto is planning to stay for the rest of the school year, Stedile is moving back to Brazil at the end of the first semester.

“When (guest residents) have established that they are living in a home in Blue Valley, at that point, like we do with any kid, we roll out the red carpet and we welcome them,” Bonnema said. “We encourage them to get involved … with the clubs and activities that we offer here at BVNW.”

The two said it took a couple of weeks for them to be able to learn due to the language shift. However, Biazetto and Stedile said they have learned to adapt to their classes.

“My first two weeks were really hard because you start learning in English instead of Portuguese,” Stedile said. “It was a little bit stressful but then I kept going and it (got) better.”

Before transitioning to life at BVNW, Biazetto and Stedile said they had to accustom to life with their host families. Stedile is living with senior Ryan Kelly and his mother Debbie Kelly for the semester, while Biazetto is living with sophomore Julia Slack and her family for the entire school year.

Stedile said she knew her host family was going to be nice from the first time she talked to them on Skype.

On the other hand, Biazetto said he was nervous about coming to a different country, as well as about what kind of host family he was going to live with. However, Biazetto said he changed his mind as he got to know them.

“I [have] a good family to stay with,” Biazetto said. “I never had siblings and here I have a brother and sister so it’s a good experience.”

Slack said she was excited and willing to help her parents in housing Biazetto.

“(Biazetto’s profile) said Bruno liked sports and me and my brother are really into sports,” Slack said. “They also said he was really laid back, so it was almost like choosing a person you wanted to live with.”

Slack said Biazetto’s relaxed personality sometimes came in conflict with what Biazetto was expected to do when it came to punctuality and school work. Slack said getting Biazetto to go to school on time or any activity has been a struggle.

Debbie said Stedile has easily transitioned into the family and made the process easy for everyone in the family.

Photo courtesy of Sophia Stedile

Photo courtesy of Sophia Stedile

“She’s so adaptable that she really fit right in and didn’t have a lot of trepidation or anything,” Debbie said. “She made it pretty easy because she gets along with everybody and makes the best of the situation.”

Both families said they try to show the guest residents firsthand what  life in the U.S. is like.

Slack said she has treated Biazetto to activities like pumpkin carving, haunted houses, celebrating the Royals World Championship and also plans to take him to a Chiefs game.

Stedile said high school in the U.S. in comparison to high school in Brazil is a lot more fun and focuses on more than just academics. She said her high school in Brazil begins at 7:15 a.m. and ends around 1:30 p.m., and students have no say in what classes they will take. She said her entire school day is filled with core classes and no extracurricular activities of any kind.

Biazetto and Stedile said they enjoy the variety of extracurricular activities and classes offered in BVNW. Biazetto said he plans on trying out for the BVNW tennis team.

“I really enjoy high school here,” Biazetto said. “Here we have bands and sports, everybody goes to watch. We have art classes, music classes. In Brazil everyone does the same classes…you can’t choose.”

Photo by Jack Oxley

Photo by Jack Oxley


Biazetto said living with a host family and being a part of the high school system in the U.S. has changed him into a more responsible person. He said living without his mother has forced him to do his own laundry, clean his room and keep himself caught up on all his school work.

Bonnema said students at BVNW can learn from international students and that our school has also done a good job of helping these students understand what the U.S. culture is like.

“I think it’s a two-way street,” Bonnema said. “I think those students that move into BVNW learn from our students, and I think our students can take away a lot from them because they’ve had different experiences.”