Lele brings Brazil to Manila

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Lele brings Brazil to Manila

Anna Beth Baugher

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Within the warm confines of Manila, Arkansas, it is sometimes easy to forget that there is a world outside of the small town- a world full of diverse culture and extraordinary people. As a result, students at Manila High School were shocked and intrigued when foreign exchange student, Leticia Gabriel, journeyed all the way from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to expand her horizons.
Leticia, better known as Lele, is 16 years old. She will be attending high school at Manila from January of this year until December of 2019. This will be her last year as a high school student before she moves on to college in Brazil.
Gabriel is staying at Tracey and Scottie Reinharts’ home for the duration of her stay and is looking forward to all of the opportunities that wait for her in Arkansas.
“They [the Reinharts] are amazing, and I’m staying at their house because they’re really good to me,” she said. “I’m here to live this experience.”
Although Lele has never been abroad Brazil before, she has shown undeniable courage throughout her journey so far. At only 16, she is branching out to explore the unknown, even though she is just a teenager with her own hobbies and passions.
“I like to play guitar,” she said. “I like yoga, pilates- I really love beaches because we have a lot of beaches”
In Brazil, there are no cold winters- just warm weather and sunny days. That is why the frigid temperatures in Arkansas have been quite a shock to Gabriel.
According to Lele, schools in Brazil are run very differently from the schools in America. For instance, her high school attends classes January through December, with no summer break. They also only stay in one classroom for the entire day instead of changing classes every period.
“We don’t have good public school,” she said. “Our good schools- they are just private.”
Although the high schools are usually private, college is public and inexpensive in Brazil.
Leticia has made many comments regarding the change that she is undergoing in such little time, but she has also made it clear that she is enjoying the experience so far, especially our small town and its residents.
“It [Manila] seems really nice and really warm,” she said. “I see you like family. You are just so close and everybody knows each other, and they are so cute to each other- so good!”
Leticia Gabriel’s vibrant and kind personality has already left an impact on her new peers. She is helping others in seeing that exploring is an option, and it is possible.

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