An Experience Of a Life Time

  Sixteen year old, Junior, arrived from Almas Pernambuco, Brazil on September 3/16, with a very short bucket list; he wanted to visit the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, he wanted to go to a comic book store, a dollar store, a movie, and he wanted to see the Northern lights. His host family set out to complete that list and ended up doing so much more!

Exchange student, host family

Jamie and Kurt, and their family live about 20 minutes from Brandon, Manitoba. The beach is a short walk down the hill behind their house. The perfect location for outdoor activities, no matter what the season.

The Adventure Begins

September 6, Junior gets on the school bus for his first day of school in Canada. Going to school where no one speaks his language was a big adjustment for Junior. He's also a high achiever, and not being able to do his school work to his usual standard was difficult for him. But he soon settled in, and found everyone to be very friendly. 

 Junior says he hopes to become a medical doctor in the future, and this trip to Canada will help him when he applies for scholarships. While many of the  Win the World exchange students from Brazil are involved in a music program, Junior's focus is more on academics and improving his English skills.

 One of his other interests is art. He spends hours just sitting and sketching, and managed to collect some art supplies while he was here.

 Junior and his host family were able to enjoy many outdoor activities during his first month here, as well as some sight seeing.

 Here they are having fun at Big Valley, north of Neepawa.

This was just one of many days enjoyed on the lake.

Kurt and Junior went along with about 30 others, quading along the Little Saskatchewan River, just south of their home.

More family fun!

They decided to take advantage of the nice weather, and go for a walk around Ducks Unlimited.

Out for a walk in the area around the acreage, enjoying the beautiful scenery.

 During the month of September the family also went to Winnipeg where they visited the Forks, and stayed at the Clarion Hotel. Junior had a great time in the pool and on the water slide!

  Besides these fun activities, there were some interesting moments around daily living. One of the first things Junior asked about was how the 'bread thing' worked. He was referring to the toaster. Once Jamie showed him how it worked, he laughed every time the toast popped! There are so many things we just take for granted, that people from other countries have never experienced....such as taking a bath. Junior had never had a bath. At home they shower, and because they have to conserve on water, he was used to turning the water off while he washed, and turning it back on to rinse. His first bath lasted an hour...he even had bubbles! Fortunately, a teacher back home had explained to him that he could flush the toilet, rather than throwing used toilet paper in the garbage! Seeing Kurt light a fire inside the house was a bit of a shock too! Junior had never seen a fireplace. And air conditioning was not only new...but he was cold when everyone else was enjoying it.

October Fun

The whole family went to the Pumpkin Patch at Oak Lake.

Carving pumpkins was a new experience, as was Halloween and trick or treating! Two other special days were also new to Junior; Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving. They looked these up online, to help explain them to Junior. 

The family took advantage of the warm fall weather, and took Junior to  Souris to see the Swinging Bridge.

 Some of the other activities Junior enjoyed in October were laser tag, miniature golf, a trip to the haunted forest, the Billy Elliot musical, drag racing, an overnight camping trip, and a day trip to Riding Mountain National Park.

November Activities

 One of the items on Junior's bucket list was to visit the Canadian Human Rights Museum. He was also able to visit a comic book store while in Winnipeg; another box checked on his bucket list.

 Boating and fishing in November, wearing shorts and flip flops...He's become a real Canadian! Too bad he didn't catch anything!

A trip to Crow's General Store in Brandon was something new for the whole family.

 Junior was able to go Glow Bowling three times during his time here! Bowling was a new experience, but  bumpers helped him out!

Winter Finally arrived!

 When Junior first arrived in Manitoba, he couldn't really understand the concept of extremely cold weather. Shivering in our warm September weather, he asked, "It gets colder than this?!" His host mom, Jamie, laughed and took him to the freezer. She opened the door and said, "Here, stick your head in!" It was the only way she could explain winter to him...of course there was no preparing him for the real thing!

  But once the snow came, it didn't take Junior long to adjust and he was soon enjoying all the fun activities a Manitoba winter has to offer.

 Here he is having fun riding GTs, pulled behind the Argo (an ATV).

December 6, It's a snow day; no school! Perfect time for riding the snow mobile!

Enjoying the Christmas season. 

Making gingerbread houses and doing jigsaw puzzles.

Not sure he'll need this hat in Brazil,
but it's a great souvenir!

January - Time Is Flying By!

In more ways than one....

January 18,  This was a particularly special day, as Kurt took Junior flying.

They flew over their house, and Junior was able to get some pictures.

January 21, They took a trip to The Assiniboine Park Zoo, where Junior was able to visit the Journey To Churchill exhibit. He enjoyed seeing some of the cold weather animals, and watching the seals swimming by.

Junior went skating for the first time, at the local arena in Rivers.

Junior finally saw his first fish come out of the lake. Kurt prepared it, cooked it in the ice shack, and they both enjoyed eating it!

  There were lots of 'firsts' for Junior, but he managed to do some things more than once...He went to the theater three times, and stayed at a hotel twice, where he was able to enjoy a pool and water slide. The only item from his original bucket list that he didn't get to see was the northern lights!

One last trip to Winnipeg, before Junior departs for home.
Having fun right up to the last day!

Everyone had breakfast together, before going to the airport.
Junior experienced a lot of new foods while he was here. 
One of his favorites was waffles.
Of course, Jamie took the picture, so she wouldn't be in it!

Speaking of favorite foods...
There's some Reeses Pieces and Ritz Crackers in that luggage.

Goodbye Junior!

  This was Jamie and Kurt's first experience with having an exchange student in their home. They packed a lot of activity into the five months, and the time has flown by. They feel that their family has benefited as much as Junior, and they were sorry to see him go. 

  Thank you, Jamie and Kurt, for sharing your host family experience with us!

For more information on becoming a host family, visit Study Manitoba.


  1. What a darling young man, with such aspirations! To think of helping him this way is so gratifying, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes, it was. They really enjoyed the experience, and are missing him!

  3. Wonderful details. Really enjoyed this post, Deborah! Thank you!

  4. Thanks, Michelle! Glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully it will encourage other families to become host parents as well.

  5. This was a really cute article. I got quite a few chuckles out of it. It sounds like they did a great job of being a host family and broadening his horizons.

  6. Thanks, Michelle...I didn't want it to be just a list of activities, so I'm glad I made you chuckle! And yes, they did a great job of introducing Junior to Manitoba.


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