Alanys Maria Arajújo de Paula is described as having a “beautiful spirit” and “full of life” by her host mom. Alanys, this year, was a new face at the beginning of the year at BMHS in the 2016-2017 school year, but now has become quite recognizable amongst peers and teachers alike. This is because Alanys is an exchange student from Reife, Brazil. Normal stereotypes that are associated with exchange students is that they all have a lot of money to travel across the world and do what they want, because they are not within their own country (both of which are myths). It is sometimes forgotten that some students have to work for the chance to be able to study abroad in a country far from their home. Such was the case with Alanys.
Her journey to become a student of Bernice MacNaughton High School began when she signed up for the program Ganba o Mundo (translated to: Win the World) which is a program that is offered in public schools. The program itself is quite prestigious as the government pays for everything (your grades have to be high in order to qualify and only one person is accepted into the program).
She signed up for English classes after school. Unlike here at BMHS, school begins at 7:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm. After school she would remain from 5:15 until 7: 00 pm in her English classes. And yet one was not simply accepted into the English classes. If a person wanted to take the English classes, you had to take an exam and only the best were accepted into the classes. While taking these classes, the student must be able to keep their average up at least into the nineties in English, Math and Portuguese. She had successfully managed to score high in both English and Portuguese, but there was some concern on her part as her Math grade was 85%. She had accepted the fact that she was probably not going to be able to get the scholarship and continued her life as usual. As she was being driven to school one day however, he got a call from one of her friends, telling her that she had won the scholarship. Arriving at school she was met with at least thirty other people who were waiting to congratulate her for her win.
That was her journey from Brazil to Canada to Bernice MacNaughton High School. But her adventure didn’t stop there. Because of her love of the arts, which includes watercolour painting and poetry, she joined Ms. Dunnet’s poetry and voice club where students from all over the school can go and learn how to recite poetry for the possibility for local and national competitions. Ms. Dunnet was pleased with her recitation and asked if she would like to represent the school and participate. There was one major issue, though. Alanys’s scholarship only lasted one semster from September to February and the competition was in April. And yet today on May 11, Alanys is here in Mr. Campbell’s Journalism class. Alanys is sitting beside Lara Buche chatting away on a topic of interest. What happened?
Both Ms. Dunnet and Alanys’s host mom were supportive of her poetry and went through painstaking measures to get her exchange program to renew her scholarship to allow her to be able to stay her for an extra semester. A part of it was because of Ms. Dunnet’s special persuasive skills and the other is that her host mom had told Alanys’s organization that she would allow her to stay the second semester without charging anything. She had mentioned that Alanys had become something akin to an “adopted daughter” to her. Now, Alanys is cherishing every moment she has with the friends she made as the last days of school creeps closer and closer. Alanys has proven that with enough willpower and determination, even the most distant goals can become attainable, and with the support of people that care about our well being, the impossible become possible. Let’s all learn from Alanys’s example and drive ourselves head first into our goals.