By TIM CLEVELAND
For nearly 10 months, Canfield’s Brittany Bettile traveled throughout Brazil as part of a student exchange program sponsored by the Canfield Rotary.
Brittany was in Brazil from Aug. 26-June 2, living with three host families during that time. She also met with other exchange students from around the world for a trip to the Amazon. Brittany arrived back home just in time to graduate from Canfield High School.
She was selected to be in the student exchange program after a two-interview process conducted by the rotary.
“I asked my parents if I could go on our school’s Spanish trip to spend two weeks in Spain,” Brittany said. “My dad [Tony] said how about a 10-month stay in another country. Would that be better? When he brought it up and I thought about it; it was less than a month before I interviewed for it. It was really last minute.”
During the interview process, Brittany was asked a multitude of questions, such as if she kept her bedroom clean, what she does with her friends on weekends, did she smoke and what was her GPA.
“In the past, host parents were complaining how the kids were not clean or anything,” she said.
Brittany said things were difficult in the beginning due to her lack of ability in speaking Portugese.
“I did want a Spanish country since I took three years of Spanish in school,” she said. “I knew no words in Portugese. It was really difficult in the beginning. I only knew how to say ‘hi.’ It improved a lot from not knowing anything when I got down there. I got the jist of it.”
“It’s a life-learning experience,” Tony Bettile said. “It’s something that she’ll remember for the rest of her life, learning another culture, another language.”
Brittany ran cross country and track and played ice hockey at Canfield High School. During her stay in Brazil she was able to learn a new athletic endeavor.
“I just went to the gym every day,” she said. “At one point I joined a sport called capoeira, which is a kind of martial art that’s like a combination of dance and martial arts. I had to quit because I switched host families.”
Brittany was asked one of the things she learned during her time in Brazil.
“I noticed when I got down there a lot of people are more sensitive than people up here,” she said. “They take offense to things people up here wouldn’t care about.”
On June 6, Brittany gave a presentation at the Canfield Rotary about her experiences, her host families, her trip to the Amazon and the cultural differences between the United States and Brazil.
In the fall, she will be beginning the next phase of her life as she will be attending Youngstown State and majoring in exercise science. She was asked if the opportunity to travel to another country presented itself if she would go.
“I would do it. It’s a really great experience to meet so many different people,” Brittany said. “I have a lot more closer friends in Brazil than I do here in Youngstown. I liked it because they [the Brazilian students] wanted to get closer because I was the most famous person at the school. You know you’re going home and you want to meet as many people as possible.”